Some people pass on getting an iPad or Android tablet in favor of a laptop just because they want a computer that can access USB peripherals, SD cards, and Ethernet networks. That’s no longer necessary because the MobileLite Wireless G2 from Kingston can add all these features to the iOS or Android device of your choice, and it also acts as a backup battery.
Build & Design
This accessory is a flattened rectangular block with curved edges. It looks relatively professional.
The MLW G2 performs so many functions that it’s not surprising it’s well supplied with ports. On one end there’s a USB port for accessing thumbdrives and external harddrives, as well as an SD card slot for memory cards. On one long side is an Ethernet port and on the opposite one is a micro-USB port to keep this device charged.
At 5.1 x 3.1 x 0.4 inches (129mm x 79mm x 19mm) and 0.37 lbs. (171g), this product is a bit bulky for something designed to go everywhere, but it does combine three products in one. And besides, a large percentage of that bulk is an internal battery that can power the device, as well as recharge a tablet or phone.
Pushing the power button for 1 second sends current to the USB port, turning this accessory into an external battery. Holding the power button down for 3 seconds activates this device’s card reader and other features.
Next to the power button are three LEDs that are there to inform the user about battery status, and which of the MLW G2’s Wi-Fi functions are operating.
Kingston developed a free application to give iOS and Android users access to all the features of the MobileLite Wireless G2. It serves as a file manager for removable drives, and it’s also where the accessory’s Wi-Fi network is configured.
There are versions of this app for iPad and Android, as well as Amazon’s Fire tablets. There are small differences between these, but for the most part they work the same.
Many of the functions of the MLW G2 require a Wi-Fi connection, as the only time it needs to be touching the tablet is when it’s acting as an external battery. Users can and should set up a password-protected network, and change the default SSID, too.
USB/SD Memory Card Reader
Those who like to store files on a harddrive or USB drive will be pleased to learn that these can easily be accessed by plugging the drive into the USB port on the MobileLite Wireless G2. And SD cards from digital cameras can be put into the accessory’s memory card reader to transfer pictures to a tablet. The accessory comes with an adapter so the microSD cards that are used by most smartphones can be put into the SD slot.
The main function of the MobileLite app is to display the files and folders of the external storage media, arranged in the manner everyone has been accustomed to on PCs for decades. Files can be moved and copied between the cards and the tablet. They can also be deleted but not renamed.This software can help out those who have not organized their files – a list of all music files can be displayed, regardless of where they are stored on the drive. The same is true of pictures as well as videos.
Transferring files from a USB drive to either an iPad or an Android tablet is a quick process, taking about 30 sec. to download a 100 MB file from the drive, and roughly 1 minute to upload the same file. For microSD cards, Android has an advantage, taking approximately 30 sec. to transfer a 100 MB file from the card to the tablet, and 45 seconds to move it back. iOS users, on the other hand, are going to need some patience. In our tests, moving a 100 MB file from a microSD card to an iPad took just under 3 minutes, while transferring the same file from the iPad to the SD card took about 2.5 minutes.
While multimedia files generally take up the most room and are therefore the ones most likely to be put on external storage, they are just part of what the MLW G2 has been designed to handle. Uses can just as easily work with large collections of Office files, or PDFs, or ebooks.
On the iPad, the MobileLite app has a built-in viewer for some types of files and documents, and it supports transferring files to other applications with the iOS “Open In…” feature. So, for example, an MP4 or MOV video can be saved to the Camera Roll and played from there, or a .DOC file can be moved to Microsoft Office, edited, and transferred back.
The version of this software for Android and Amazon Fire models makes use of the viewers that come bundled with their operating systems, or files that have been moved to the tablet’s internal storage can be opened with native apps.
The USB port and the SD card reader can be used at the same time, so documents can be transferred from one to the other. With the use of a second USB SD card reader (sold separately) files can be moved between SD or microSD cards.
The USB port on the MLW G2 does not allow any type of tablet to use USB keyboards, scanners, etc. The only USB accessories it supports are storage related, as well as some older 3G cellular-wireless data cards.
The days when it was hard to find a Wi-Fi wireless network in a sea of wired Ethernet networks are, for the most part, behind us. Still, there are still enough homes and offices that only have Ethernet to justify a mobile hotspot like this one.
Also, the Ethernet port on the MobileLite Wireless G2 is a handy addition because sometimes wired networks can be carrying less traffic and are therefore faster than overloaded wireless ones. When staying at a hotel or conference center that offers both Wi-Fi and Ethernet and the wireless network is painfully slow, it’s nice to be able to plug the MLW G2 in and create a Wi-Fi hotspot no one else can access.
Set up is just about as simple as it can be. Plug the Ethernet cable into Kingston’s accessory, connect to its Wi-Fi network, and it’s done.
Our tests show that this accessory functions as quite a good wireless access point, offering the same upload and download speeds as a non-mobile router. That’s a rare thing for mobile hotspots, which often offer half the data transfer speeds of regular ones.
Kingston says the 4640 mAh internal battery in the MobileLite Wireless G2 is capable of keeping it going for up to 13 hours, but in our tests it was closer to 10 hours acting as a mobile hotspot. This is because the battery life varies by what the accessory is doing – acting as a Wi-Fi access port, streaming one or more movies, etc.
In most cases, however, the extremely long battery life is unnecessary because the user can activate the MLW G2, download all needed files to a tablet or phone, then turn the device off. The process can be reversed later to upload any updated files, if required.
When acting as a wireless access point for an Ethernet network, the accessory can be plugged into a wall socket at the same time, as there are few occasions in which Ethernet is available and power is not.
When acting as an external battery, Kingston promises that the MLW G2 can give an iPad Air a 30% charge, give a Samsung Galaxy S4 more than a full charge, or completely recharge an iPhone 5 twice.
The Kingston MobileLite Wireless G2 is an accessory no tablet-toting road warrior should be without because it brings missing critical features to any Apple iPad, Kindle Fire, and even many Android models.
It’s available from a variety of retailers for $50 – $60, which is a bargain for those who want a combination card reader, mobile hotspot, and backup battery in a singe package.