Last year we got with Kingston and had the opportunity to try out and show you guys the Kingston Wi-Drive. They had three models at the time, 16GB, 32GB or 64GB storage options. Later on they released a 128GB model. The device was small, portable and offered quite a unique experience. Allowing you to connect 3 devices at one time to stream video files or music, download and share documents and a little bit more. All without the need to have an actual data connection available because the Wi-Drive created its own Wi-Fi signal.
This year we swung by their booth once again to see what Kingston has been up to and their plans with the Wi-Drive line. Lucky we did too, because we got our hands on the new Wi-Drive+ MobileLite Wireless beta unit. It is most likely going to drop the Wi-Drive+ name just go with MobileLite Wireless. It is the next evolution in portable storage and sharing. The basic principle is the same. The MobileLite creates its own Wi-Fi signal for Android, iOS or PC/Mac to see and access. Android will have its own app soon where as iOS already has a beta app available for the new device.
The MobileLite doesn’t have the locked down internal memory that last years models did. It now sports a Micro SD card slot, a Standard SD card slot and a USB port. On the box it states that each card slot can support up to a 32GB sd card, giving you a total of 64GB of accessible storage. Of course we tested that theory out with various micro SD card sizes from 2GB to 32GB. It had no issues seeing any of them and playing a movie file or loading a document that our device supported for viewing and working with. In addition to being able to access and stream any of your files from the unit, the device also acts as a card reader for your PC. When plugged in to a PC you will have access to each card and the USB port. This eliminates the need to constantly pull out memory cards to transfer data to them to use in the device.
The addition of a USB port opens up a whole new world of possibilities though. Being able to plug-in a thumb drive is nice and all, but what about a full on external hard drive? We plugged in a 120GB external hard drive to the USB port to see if it could shell out that info as well. Much to our surprise, it pulled the hard drive up and we were able to access all the files and watch a movie. It had some skipping and pausing issues on a few occasions, but we weren’t expecting it to be perfect because the we are still using the old Wi-Drive app. Since the hard drive will be pulling power to power its self, that will easily shorten the amount of streaming time or access time you will get while it is plugged in. Kingston mentions that there is no size limit to what the USB port can support. So of course I tested it out with my 1TB external drive that I have connected to my PC. I let the app sit for quite a while, figuring that it was indexing the files to be viewed or something. After 20 minutes of waiting and it still not pulling anything up, I called it quiets. That doesn’t mean that it won’t work though. The key thing to remember that this is a beta unit and the Android app that is currently available is not even truly designed to support the MobieLite Wireless product yet anyways.
In a home, hotel or traveling situation where a charger is available, you might be able to keep it alive all day with no issues. We didn’t give that a shot though. The MobileLite will charge from a PC as well, but when it is plugged into a PC it disconnects the Wi-Fi portion of the drive and prevents you from streaming whole connected.
The MobileLite also has one other added benefit built-in. Since it supports a USB plug, it can also act as a portable battery backup. It won’t charge your phone from 0 to 100, but it will still give you a boost if needed.
On a small side note, this is a beta unit and Kingston only has an official beta app out for iOS, not Android. We were very aware of that when we first snagged it while talking with a Kingston Engineer. We were advised that the original Wi-Drive app should work just fine for it, but that it might pose a few issues. Don’t go basing your thoughts about this upcoming accessory on a few glitches we had while beta testing.
Pricing and launch details are still a bit scarce. The device is still in a beta stage and the name could change, the design could change so could some of its functionality. As it sits right now, they are aiming for a public release sometime in Q2 of this year. Since the new device doesn’t have any internal storage, they should be able to keep the cost down considerably. We expect to see it hit for under $100. Even at $100 it is well worth the money. The current Wi-Drives are going for $95 for the 64Gb and $150 for the 128Gb version.
What do you guys think of the new design and new access option? Will you be holding back some of the tax dollars to pick one up when they finally hit the streets?