A wireless portable drive that is sound in theory, but comes with restrictions.
The Kingston Wi-Drive is a portable wireless flash drive that was designed primarily for iOS users in mind, because while most Android devices can expand their memory by way of memory cards, iOS devices such as iPhones and iPads have no such option.
The super-thin Wi-Drive weighs a mere 84g and is therefore extremely portable. In essence, it works like any other flash drive, but wirelessly. It achieves this by broadcasting as a Wi-Fi hotspot, and can share content with up to three devices simultaneously. And if there’s an existing Wi-Fi network, the Wi-Drive bridge can also act a Wi-Fi bridge, so that devices connected to the Wi-Drive can also have access to that particular Wi-Fi network.
Content is copied onto the Wi-Drive just like any other flash drive. There’s no need for additional software, just plug it into your system with the supplied USB cable and you are good to go. Speaking of which, it is a pity that USB 3.0 isn’t supported.
Although the Wi-Drive was conceived with iOS devices in mind, Android devices (and indeed any device with a web browser) can access it. There are two ways which users can gain access to contents of the drive. The first is by downloading the free Wi-Drive app – available on the Apple App Store for iOS devices, or Google Play for Android devices. The second – which was recently included by a firmware update – is by using your device’s web browser. this enables the Wi-Drive to be used with a wider range of devices including Windows phone and regular notebooks.
But while all sounds great in theory, there are some shortfalls to the Wi-Drive, and the most glaring of all is video playback with Apple devices. Because the Wi-Drive is only a media streamer, it doesn’t transcode videos. This means users can only play videos that are natively supported by their device. For iOS devices, that means an extremely limited number of video formats. The Wi-Drive app offers the option of opening videos with third-party apps such as OPlayer and VLC, but this feature doesn’t work properly, causing the app to crash on many occasions.
The best way around this is to simply encode your video content in a format that is supported by your device first. But this is time consuming, and Kingston doesn’t provide any sort of video conversion software.
Furthermore, we also found that the Wi-Drive app’s interface is decidedly basic in terms of features. For example, it doesn’t sort music files according to ID3 tags. As such, for users with lots of music, it is highly recommended that you manually sort them out into folders for easy navigation.
In terms of battery life, we found the Wi-Drive to be good for around four hours, which is decent. However, and quite frustratingly, the Wi-Drive can be charged only with a USB cable and it takes a mind-numbing six hours to reach full charge. Worse, you can’t use it while it is charging.
Overall, the concept of the Kingston Wi-Drive is sound, but it is let down by a host of restrictions.