In this column I have reviewed a couple of wireless, disk-based storage options—the Seagate GoFlex Satellite and the Maxell AirStash. The Seagate device is a traditional hard disk drive that streams its contents to other devices over a Wi-Fi connection. The AirStash uses a standard SD/SDHC card to store data. Recently I have been using a device similar to the AirStash—the Kingston Wi-Drive. With 16G or 32G of storage using flash technology, the Wi-Drive allows users of Wi-Fi-enabled iOS, Android and Kindle Fire devices to access data wirelessly via apps.
Compared to the other wireless storage devices I have tested, the Wi-Drive was definitely the easiest to set up. The Wi-Drive ships with a mini USB cable to connect the drive to your computer to transfer files and/or charge the battery. You also receive a wall adapter that you can use to charge the drive. The Wi-Drive is highly portable and can easily fit in your pocket; it only measures 4.8 inches by 2.4 inches by 0.4 inches (length by width by height).
The first thing you need to do is add contents to your Wi-Drive. The drive is compatible with Windows 2000 or later, Mac OSX 10.5+ or Linux 2.6+. File transfers are done by dragging and dropping them from your computer to the Wi-Drive device. Likewise, the only way to modify or delete content is to connect the Wi-Drive to your computer. When the Wi-Drive is mounted as a USB drive, its Wi-Fi services are disabled, which means you cannot sync content from a PC over USB to the Wi-Drive and simultaneously access the Wi-Drive via Wi-Fi.
Once you have data on the drive, you are ready to connect the Wi-Drive using your mobile device. This is done via a free app. Originally, the Wi-Drive only supported iOS devices, but in recent months apps have come along for Android (currently in beta) and the Kindle Fire. For this review I tested the Wi-Drive using my iPhone 4S and iPad 2.
After downloading and installing the free app from the Apple App Store, I powered up the Wi-Drive by pressing the clear On/Off button on the side of the device. You must wait a few moments for the blue Wi-Fi activity light to start blinking, which tells you the device is ready. Using an Apple device, you then go to Settings, go to Wi-Fi to make sure Wi-Fi is turned on, and then select Wi-Drive from “Choose a Network.” Once connected, you open the Kingston Wi-Drive app to access the contents of the drive.
I was able to connect to the Wi-Drive with my iPhone and iPad on the first try and was streaming music over both in a manner of minutes. I was even able to stream simultaneously on both devices, since the Wi-Drive allows you to share its content with up to three devices at once. The only time I experienced a loss of connection was when I took the drive beyond the 30-foot range of its integrated Wi-Fi 802.11 g/n connection.
The biggest drawback with the Wi-Drive is its storage capacity. The Seagate GoFlex Satellite offers 500G of storage space, but it is a traditional hard disk drive (, meaning it is not nearly as portable and is susceptible to bumps and jolts. The Wi-Drive is only available in 16G and 32G capacities, buts its solid-state flash drive technology makes it highly portable and reliable. Frankly, I don't see where having “only” 32G of storage would be a problem, especially considering the types of files I use on my iPhone and iPad.
The Wi-Drive does overcome one of my biggest complaints with the GoFlex Satellite: If you were connected to the Satellite’s drive, you could not access the Internet. However, the Wi-Drive offers a “bridged” network connection, which allows you to access the Internet while continuing to stream Wi-Drive content. In effect, you connect the Wi-Drive to your local Wi-Fi network using the Wi-Drive app, and then its content is streamed over that network while you continue using the local network to access the Internet.
According to Kingston, the Wi-Drive’s battery provides roughly four hours of continuous streaming, which is roughly 20% that of the Maxell AirStash.
The Kingston Wi-Drive is the best overall wireless storage solution I have run across thus far. It is very easy to set up, and it performed very well. While it doesn’t have the storage capacity of the Seagate GoFlex Satellite, it is much more portable and durable. The Wi-Drive is a much better value than the Maxell AirStash, with a 16G Wi-Drive costing less than half that of a comparable AirStash. If you are looking for a wireless storage option for use with your iOS, Android, or Kindle Fire device, the Kingston Wi-Drive deserves a long look.
$77.00 16G (reviewed), $129.99 32G (currently $48.95 for 16G model from Amazon.com)
Wayne A. Thorp, CFA, is the author of “Gadget Corner.” All reviews are based on firsthand experience of the product or service. No third-party compensation is received for opinions on products, services, websites or topics. However, sometimes the author is not required by the manufacturer or their PR firm to return the product under review. In such instances, it is our policy to convey this within the review. The views and opinions expressed in these reviews are strictly those of the author. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider.