The light weight and long battery life of the Apple iPad and Android tablets make them a great tool for travelers, but there are some useful functions that were left out of virtually all of these devices. Apotop Wi-Reader Pro (DW17) is an accessory that adds most of these features back in.
It lets your tablet access the contents of USB drives and SD cards, and it can act as a portable Wi-Fi router. You don’t need an electrical socket for either of these functions, and it works as an external battery, too.
Build & Design
The Wi-Reader Pro is roughly the size of a deck of cards and fairly light, so it’s easy to slip into your gear bag.
USB/SD Card Reader
No iPad has an external memory card slot or a USB port, and there are quite a few Android models that lack these as well. The Wi-Reader Pro fills in this gap — with it, your tablet can read and write to USB drives and SD cards.
It has to do this in a slightly indirect manner. You connect to the accessory over Wi-Fi, then use an app to access the contents of the drive/card.
You can use this app to view what’s stored, download it to your tablet, upload files from your tablet to a drive/card, and even rename and move files around. What you can’t do is move files from one card to another — only one port is active at a time.
If you don’t like Apotop’s app you don’t have to use it — the Wi-Reader Pro is a personal FTP server, so any software with FTP support can access its contents. And all the setting can be changed from a built-in web interface.
In addition, the contents of cards and this accessory’s settings can be accessed through the device’s web interface, which duplicates most of the features of the app.
Apotop’s product isn’t exactly as convenient as having a USB port and SD card reader in your iPad or Google Nexus 7, but it’s close. And there are advantages of this approach. Up to three tablets or smartphones can be pulling/streaming files off one drive/card simultaneously.
Don’t worry about losing your Internet access when you’re connected to the Wi-Reader Pro, because it can act as sort of pass-through.
If you haven’t grasped the ramifications of this accessory yet, it means you can carry around hours and hours of video on your next trip but don’t need to fill up your tablet’s limited storage. Or it could be ebooks or music, or files for work.
Mobile Wi-Fi Router
Virtually no tablets have an Ethernet port — this is a feature that’s even starting to disappear from laptops. But no worries: you can connect the Wi-Reader Pro to an Ethernet network and create your own Wi-Fi access point.
Many hotels offer free Wi-Fi, which is great. But I’ve stayed at many places where this runs at a snail’s pace. I’ve learned through long experience that the in-room Ethernet port is often much, much faster. Plug the Wi-Reader Pro into it, connect to your own personal Wi-Fi network, and you can be zipping along.
One of 21st century life’s odder paradoxes is that the more a hotel costs, the fewer services it gives you for free. So if you are staying in a four-star resort you can expect to pay up to $30 a day for Wi-Fi access. But in some cases there’s a way around this: the hotel will make Ethernet access free. So plug the Wi-Reader Pro in and bobs your uncle.
Even in situations where the hotel charges for both Wi-Fi and Ethernet, using the wired connection is often faster.
But not all travel is to hotels. If you’re staying with your parents/grandparents it’s not unusual to find that they have high-speed Internet but no Wi-Fi. This is the situation where Apotop’s accessory shines best.
As convenient this is, the documentation for the Wi-Reader Pro isn’t the best I’ve ever read. You should figure out how it works by testing it on your home network before you try it in a strange hotel. You’re going to need to plug the device into the Ethernet cable, connect to it over Wi-Fi, then be sure it is in the right mode.
We spend most of our lives in easy reach of an electrical socket, but when we travel that changes. We can find ourselves fighting over a socket in a crowded airport, or with simply no access on a plane.
That’s why anyone who regularly travels with their tablet needs an external battery. While these devices generally last many hours on their own, it’s great to not exit the plane with a 10% charge.
You recharge this accessory through its microUSB port. You plug the recharging cable for your external device to its full-size USB port.
As this is more of a secondary function, the battery capacity isn’t huge. In my tests it can run my iPad for about 2 hours.
To reiterate something said before, all the functions of the Wi-Reader Pro are available when it’s plugged in or running off the battery.
Frequent travelers who have occasionally found themselves pulling their hair out with missing features of their tablet should like the Apotop Wi-Reader Pro (DW17). It has a lot to offer, most notably a a USB drive/SD card reader and a portable.
This accessory is available at a number of webstores, where it sells for about $90.