[Review] Kingston Wi-Drive (32GB) [Video]

kingston_wi-drive

Unfortunately, with some devices, we just don’t have enough space for the content that we’d like to have on them. What’s worse is that more and more devices nowadays don’t offer a way to expand the amount of storage. Fortunately, Kingston has a solution. Meet the Wi-Drive, a small device that’s essentially a USB flash drive with wireless capabilities. It’s not the most ideal solution, but it works quite well. The product doesn’t come cheap, though. The 32GB model will set you back by about $90 (Amazon), while the 64GB version will cost about $40 more. As long as you have a device with Wi-Fi, you can use the Wi-Drive to store and access those files wirelessly, should your own device be full or if you want to easily share something with someone else.

Usage Scenarios

First, I’ll tell you about a few occasions where the Wi-Drive would be excellent to have, just in case you’re confused about what this product actually is.

Let’s say you’re going on a trip, but your iPad is low on space. There’s a hot-new movie that you’d like to watch on it, but that can’t happen because, again, you’re low on space. Simple copy the movie to the Wi-Drive, connect your iPad to it via Wi-Fi, and you’ll be able to access it via Kingston’s companion app, or through a web browser. None of this requires Internet access, either.

Another situation could be when you have some files that you’d like to share with multiple people, but Internet access isn’t available to them. Simple power on the Wi-Drive, have them connect to it, and they’ll be able to access those files.

What’s Included

Because this is a wireless drive, it includes a built-in rechargeable battery (which, in my testing, can last a good 4 to 5 hours of continuous usage). To recharge it, Kingston provides you with a wall charger with a standard USB port on it. They also include a USB A to mini B cable (the Wi-Drive uses a mini USB port for charging and syncing), but chances are you already have one somewhere. Lastly, you get a quick-start guide, that will “quickly” get your “started” with your new product.

To charge, you won’t actually need to use the included charger. If you have one, perhaps one that’s more compact, you’ll be able to use that without any problems.

Design

The overall design of the device is rather standard and plain. Made of shiny black plastic, be sure to have a cloth handy if you want to keep the amount of fingerprints on the Wi-Drive reduced. In terms of dimensions, it basically matches those of the iPhone. You’ll find some Kingston branding throughout. A soft-touch/”satin” sort of finish would’ve been preferred.

On the front, you’ll find a few activity LED indicators. There’s one for disk activity, one for network status, and one for network activity. To power the device on and off, and to view the battery status, you’ll want to use the button on the right. A built-in LED will change from red, yellow, or green, depending on the amount of battery left. The power button itself is a bit “mushy” and hard to press. Above that, there’s a small pinhole for the reset switch.

Functionality

The product works exactly as advertised. Simply turn it on, connect your device(s) to it, and you’re ready to go. But first, you’ll need to load it up with content which you CAN do wirelessly, but it’ll just take longer. The preferred method is via USB 2.0. Unfortunately, it’s a bit slow, with speeds ranging from 10 to 20MB/s for writing and reading, respectively.

So, once your content’s on the Wi-Drive and your device(s) are actually connected to it, you can access the content in one of two ways: use your device’s web browser, or use Kingston’s Wi-Drive companion app, available for free for iOS and Android. Kingston’s app isn’t really necessary, but it includes easier navigation and file transfer capabilities. Unfortunately, that’s all that it brings to the table. Simple things, such as battery percentage information, would’ve been appreciated. I found that, sometimes, going to the device via your web browser is a bit easier.

To access the content via a web browser, go to the following IP address (it’s the same for all Wi-Drives): 192.168.200.254. The built-in web server/file manager will kick-in. It’s a bit plain, but it works. If you go into the “config” folder, you’ll be able to setup the Wi-Drive. The settings are the same whether or not you use the app or your web browser.

Internet Access

You may be wondering to yourself how you’ll still get online if you’re connected to the Wi-Drive via Wi-Fi. The way that this works is that the Wi-Drive will work as both a wireless router and a wireless range extender. You can sync your existing Wi-Fi network with the Wi-Drive, and it’ll then share that network through its own connection. Basically, the Wi-Drive isn’t only a wireless storage device that can be accessed from your entire network, but it can [technically] be used to help boost a Wi-Fi dead-zone that might be in your house or place of work.

Performance

As mentioned in the beginning, you can connect up to 5 devices to the Wi-Drive. I wasn’t able to test that many at once, but I was able to test 3 devices simultaneously pulling content from the Wi-Drive. None of them had any issues while streaming movies at the same time. Quickly scrubbing through video files wasn’t an issue at all. Music files played back-to-back within a few seconds of each other. Overall, I was quite happy with the Wi-Fi performance, especially with multiple clients connected.

Conclusion

In the end, the Wi-Drive proved to be a success. I was easily able to load it up with several gigabytes worth of content and view it on my gadgets, all wirelessly. My only problem is a personal, aesthetic one, being the glossy plastic body. It can quickly attract dust and fingerprints, and will overall look a bit disgusting. Other than that, this is an excellent product that works very well for what it’s made to do.

Wi-Drive on Kingston’s website

The 32GB Wi-Drive on Newegg ($89.99)

Video Review