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Which Storage Device Is Right For You?

Six Battery-Powered Wireless Storage Devices, Reviewed
By , Achim Roos

All of these devices look like familiar USB-attached storage devices, and they can, in fact, be used like that. But they're all more functional. Their prices are a good indication of this; each product is notably more expensive than simple external storage.

Fortunately, USB connectivity isn't just a bullet point on the feature list of Seagate's Wireless Plus, Corsair's Voyager Air, and PQI's Air Bank. Thanks to compatibility with USB 3.0, they all achieve as much as 110 MB/s in reads and writes. Perhaps owing to its form factor and memory type, SanDisk's Connect Wireless Flash Drive is interesting-looking, but posts USB dismal performance as low as 18 MB/s.

The most interesting features we saw were probably integrated Wi-Fi and built-in batteries. Both features, taken together, let you create a mobile hotspot with wireless storage available to client systems. Put a drive in your backpack, and you're able to access a complete media library for any mobile device, wherever  you are.

Corsair's Voyager Air and Seagate's Wireless Plus will even stream content to the friends around you, along with DLNA-compliant devices like smart TVs, Blu-ray player, and game consoles. The two PQI devices aren't as compelling. They don't offer Internet pass-through, so you're stuck facing a choice between online access and access to your stored data. You can't do both at the same time.

Enabling an easy setup and smooth user experience requires good Wi-Fi performance and a well thought-out interface. Each of these vendors provides an app able to run on modern mobile devices. But none of them achieve what we'd consider to be stellar wireless speed (the top option topping out at around 5 MB/s). That might be sufficient for streaming music or video, but you'll find yourself waiting on larger data transfers, to be sure. The exception is Corsair's Voyager Air, which you can plug directly into an Ethernet network and use as a NAS to achieve transfer rates as high as 30 MB/s.

Most of the app do what they need to do, but none of them have us particularly impressed with their creators. Two stand out in our minds: one for good reasons, and one for bad. PQI's uninspired implementation of the Air Bank+ software left us disappointed, particularly when it came to the app's multimedia functionality. It lists all songs alphabetically in a single folder, disregarding meta data. Once you have more than a handful of albums that employ similar naming conventions (for instance, a track number and song title), you're going to start losing track of albums in your head. Seagate, on the other hand, gives us something to praise. Its app lets you quickly sort multimedia files according to several defined categories, such as song title, genre, or artist, somewhat similar to iTunes.

The Voyager Air, Air Bank, and Seagate Wireless Plus each include an internal hard disk with 500 or 1000 GB of storage capacity, and hence are best suited to large data collections. Kingston's MobileLite Wireless, PQI's Air Drive, and SanDisk's Connect Wireless Flash Drive are smaller, lighter, and less expensive, but offer less storage flexibility; they rely on SD or microSD cards for holding your information.

Display all 9 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , April 24, 2014 12:00 AM
    Would you like a device capable of functioning as USB-based storage, a Wi-Fi hotspot, an archive for your media, a streaming server, and a rechargeable battery? The six devices in this round-up are versatile, including a combination of those features.

    Six Battery-Powered Wireless Storage Devices, Reviewed : Read more
  • 0 Hide
    rbagany , April 26, 2014 8:01 PM
    @ Bernie Fresh: dude, TMI... "avid adult film collector", "flick of the wrist", "wash your hands"
  • 1 Hide
    blackmagnum , April 24, 2014 12:36 AM
    All these devices are undeniably beneficial but their functions already built into modern smart phones and tablets so they are somewhat redundant.
  • 0 Hide
    Snipergod87 , April 24, 2014 6:59 AM
    I have never seen the point of these devices.
  • 1 Hide
    wffurr , April 24, 2014 8:45 AM
    I don't get the point of using them as a wifi hotspot when connected to wired ethernet. I haven't had access to a wired network without a wifi access point at any point in the last ten years.

    I can see the utility of the wifi hardware for peer-to-peer connections ala AirDrop, but I didn't see that mentioned as a feature on these.
  • 1 Hide
    Bernie Fresh , April 24, 2014 10:09 AM
    As an owner of a non-reviewed Adata Dashdrive Air ae800, and avid adult film collector. I think of this these products as the modern version of the closet "shoebox". Have something to hide, but still want to use? company computer? wife's laptop? Just a quick flick of the wrist...and youve got access to all those warm fuzzy ish feelings.
    Buy the 500gb models and wash your hands.
  • 0 Hide
    Traciatim , April 24, 2014 10:16 AM
    Where's the iUSBPort and iUSBport Mini in this test?

    http://www.hypershop.com/HyperDrive/iUSBport/
  • 0 Hide
    PEJUman , April 24, 2014 5:32 PM
    i have the kingston mobilelite, and it's nice device for portable movie hub, with 2 toddlers: 2 ipads, 1 iphone and 2 androids, it simplify my uploading/downloading requirements. Instead of uploading the same file to 5 devices, and wasting 5x the storage by storing the file in each device, I simply upload it to the 64GB SD card.

    very useful for in the car/when traveling, each devices connects automatically, the kids even learned how to find & navigate the apps on their own.

    Then I simply take the device with me when get to the destination (i.e. mall/park/etc), and they can resume watching while eating lunch, resting, etc.

    I think these are aimed at multi-user families.
  • 0 Hide
    Pyree , April 24, 2014 5:47 PM
    Quote:
    I have never seen the point of these devices.


    I have a NextAV D100 wifi drive (not reviewed here). I can tell you it is quite handy when you travel. 1. The battery can charge your phone. 2. You can carry a lot of movies and music so you can watch and listen for long trip. 3. Backup photos and videos. The drive I have has a SD card slot and a USB port. The storage of the drive is provided by the SD card you slot into the wifi device. The USB port is where you plug in to charge your phone and where you can plug a HDD so you can backup things from the SD card from your camera or camcorder into a HDD.
  • 0 Hide
    rwinches , April 25, 2014 3:43 AM
    These devices are good if you have a phone or tablet or MS surface that has no SD slot.
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