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Kingston Wi-Drive 16GB review

Alan Lu
7 Nov 2011
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
65
inc VAT

The Kingston Wi-Drive is a clever way of accessing and sharing lots of media files between multiple iOS devices, but its limitations make it a niche product rather than a must-have

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Specifications

0 disk bays, 16GB storage supplied, x N/A Ethernet ports

As Apple's iOS devices, the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, don't have memory card slots, you can't add more storage if your library of media files has outgrown your device. Kingston's Wi-Drive is an unusual and inventive solution to this problem. It's a portable, battery-powered network attached storage (NAS) device designed for iOS devices.

Even though the Wi-Drive contains flash memory, a battery and a wireless access point, it's no bigger than an iPod Touch. We reviewed the 16GB model, but a 32GB version is also available. You copy media files to the Wi-Drive by connecting it to your computer over USB2, which also charges the battery. You'll need to set aside some time to do this, though, as large files copied to the device at a relatively slow 12.3MB/s, which is around half the speed of a good USB flash drive.

Kingston Wi-Drive 16GB

When you switch it on, the Wi-Drive creates its own Wi-Fi network, and you connect to it from your iOS device using a free app from the iTunes Store to access your files. An Android app isn't currently available, which is unsurprising since most Android devices have memory card slots, although one is apparently in the works.

By default, the Wi-Drive's wireless network isn't password-protected, but security can be enabled from within the app. Cleverly, the Wi-Drive supports bridging with your existing wireless network, so you can access your media and the internet without having to switch networks. There's no battery indicator on the hardware itself or within the app, which is frustrating. The Wi-Drive also has significantly less battery life than both the iPhone and iPad, lasting for just four hours and 26 minutes when playing an H.264-encoded video on repeat.

The iPhone/iPod Touch app is rough around the edges, but it gets the job done. We had no problem streaming the same standard-definition H.264 movie to two different iOS devices at the same time, although attempting to stream to a third resulted in dropped frames. Unlike Apple's Videos app, there's no support for extras such as chapters and subtitles, nor can you resume watching from where you left off.

Kingston Wi-Drive 16GB side

Although the most common use for the Wi-Drive is likely to be streaming movies, the app can also be used to stream music and photos. Although it displays album art and song information when playing music, only browsing by file name is possible – there's no support for browsing by ID3 tags such as artist and album. There's no playlist support either, although playlists can be approximated using folders. Viewing photos works well enough but, depending on the resolution of the images, there can be a lag when swiping from photo to photo.

The Wi-Drive only supports the file formats already supported by iOS, so non-H264/MPEG4 videos will have to be converted to an iOS-friendly format first. It's also possible to view PDFs and Microsoft Office files stored on the Wi-Drive, although unusually the Open In and Download buttons are accessed using the swipe gesture usually used to delete files. Despite the odd gestures, these controls work fine, and let you open files in another app such as an office suite, or just save them to your device's internal memory. Sadly, it's currently not possible to copy files from your iOS device to the Wi-Drive, allowing the originals to be deleted and freeing up space.

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