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Buffalo MiniStation Air 2 review

Alan Lu
21 Sep 2014
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
87
inc VAT

The MiniStation Air 2 is a good mobile NAS, although it’s a little expensive and file format compatibility needs work

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Specifications

Capacity: 500GB, 3.5" hard disk bays (free): 0 (0), Networking: 802.11n, DLNA media server: yes, Print server: no, Dimensions (WXHXD): 84x18x140mm, Weight: 0.25

The Buffalo MiniStation Air 2 is a wireless portable NAS available in both 500GB and 1TB capacities; we’ve reviewed the 500GB version. Commendably, the Air 2’s built-in wireless network is password-protected out of the box with the default password printed on the bottom of the Air. Unusually for a mobile NAS, the Air 2 has a second USB port for topping up the charge of a smartphone or tablet using its built-in battery, which adds further convenience.

Although you can access the Air 2 from your computer via SMB, it’s really designed for use with iOS and Android mobile apps to compensate for those devices’ comparatively limited built-in storage. In use, MPEG4 and H264 files played back fine on iOS, but occasionally suffered from jitter and dropped frames on Android. Both mobile platforms tripped over videos with an alternate audio track, such as a director’s commentary. There’s no way to choose which track plays, so they both play simultaneously, which isn’t ideal. MKV files wouldn’t play at all on iOS and played without audio on Android. Divx files were unpredictable, with some videos playing fine while others stubbornly refused to open.

Video file format compatibility is hit and miss, but the Air 2’s app is one of the very few we’ve seen to support resumption of playback from where you left off, which is very handy for epic movies or if you’re simply interrupted. The app’s music player hasn’t been overlooked; it supports ID3 tags and playlists. These may be basic features but are often absent from mobile NAS apps. Files can be downloaded from the Air 2 to your mobile device, but you can’t cancel a download, which is annoying if you’ve accidentally started to download a large file.

Android users can upload any file they want from their mobile device to the Air 2, although the copy and paste interface is a tad fiddly. Although iOS users are limited to uploading photos and videos from their camera roll, Buffalo’s app is the first we’ve seen to recognise the events and tagged faces categorisation options used by Apple’s Photos app. 

In our tests, the Air 2 had a wireless range of around 20 feet which is good for a mobile NAS. The app’s wireless pass-through mode worked fine, so we could stay connected to our existing wireless network for internet access while connected to the Air 2 at the same time. Although its performance when connected to a PC over USB3 wasn’t quite as fast as its competitors when it came to small files, it wasn’t too far behind. Small files were written at 25.2MB/s and read at 45.3MB/s. Large files were written at 96.5MB/s and read at 106.4MB/s.

The 500GB Buffalo MiniStation Air 2 is a respectable mobile NAS device, but it’s flawed due to its relatively high cost per gigabyte of 17p and its imperfect file format compatibility. The 1TB Corsair Voyager Air 2 costs more, for instance, but it has a lower price-per-gigabyte of 13p. If Buffalo can fix these two flaws then it’s onto a winner.

Hardware
Capacity500GB
Default file systemNTFS
File attribute supportyes
Price per gigabyte17p
Hard disk interfaceSATA3
3.5" hard disk bays (free)0 (0)
RAID modesnone
Interfaces
Networking802.11n
Front USB portsnone
Rear USB portsnone
Other portsUSB
Networking
Universal Plug and Playno
DLNA media serveryes
Print serverno
USB disk serverno
Web serverno
FTP serverno
Mac file sharingyes
SSHno
WebDAVno
Other servicesUSB charging port
Features
Dimensions (WXHXD)84x18x140mm
Weight0.25
Buying information
WarrantyOne-year RTB
Price£87
Supplierwww.ebuyer.com
Detailswww.buffalo-technology.com
Part codeHDW-PD500U3-EU