One of the most frustrating aspects of Apple’s iPad and some Android models is that the versions with maximum storage capacity cost so much, and there’s no way to add more. Fortunately the Kingston Wi-Drive is here to help — this handy accessory acts as a sort of external hard drive for your tablet.
It would be wonderful if all tablets came with memory card slots so we could easily expand their capacity, but many do not. If your device is full, and you’d like to bring along more video and audio files when you travel, you can put them on the Wi-Drive and access them over a Wi-Fi connection.
Build & Design
This accessory is a very light-weight, slim, black rectangle that’s easy to carry around, especially if you use a case for your tablet. That said, it’s considerably larger than a microSD card, but if your device doesn’t have the required slot, that’s a moot point.
On one side is the power button, and on one end is a mini-USB port used to charge the Wi-Drive and do file transfers. There are also a pair of tiny blue LEDs to inform the user of connection status.
To access the files stored on this accessory, you connect to it as if it was a Wi-Fi hotspot, then run an app on your tablet. The software is simple to use — files are stored in folders, you find the one you want to use, tap on it, and it will start to play as the content is wirelessly streamed to your device.
It would be nice if this app had a few extra features, though. The one I’d like most of a battery meter — there’s no good way to tell how much longer you have other than an LED warning light when the battery is almost drained.
The viewer supports all the video and audio types that are natively supported by your tablet. Generally speaking, that’s the standards, like MOV, MP4, MP3, etc.
Surprisingly, this accessory supports multiple simultaneous connections. So, for example, on a car trip two children in a backseat can be watch different programs.
To put your files on the Wi-Drive, you need to connect it to a desktop or laptop via a USB cable — it’s wireless file-transfer capabilities don’t extend to PCs or Macs. It appears as a removable drive, and you can drag-and-drop files over, delete old ones, copy files back onto your PC, whatever you’d like. The transfers go fairly quickly.
While it’s easy to think of this as a multimedia storage device, it can handle many types of files. For example, if you want to carry around a few gigabytes of work-related PDF files for reference, you could.
One of the more useful features of the Wi-Drive is its built-in web browser, as this allows you to connect to the device with a range of applications and devices. Thanks to this I rarely use the Wi-Drive app, as I prefer to use a more fully-featured video app which has a built-in web browser. I can transfer and watch my shows with just this app.
When you are connected to the Wi-Drive, you aren’t connected to a regular Wi-Fi hotspot that can give you Internet access. Thankfully, this gadget can act as a bridge, so you can receive emails when watching a movie, for example. Setting this up is a bit cumbersome, though, and it slows your connection down.
A weakness of this device is its battery life, which isn’t great. In my tests it lasted around 4 hours, which is plenty to watch a movie or two, but after that you have to turn it off and plug it back in.
On of the few genuine flaws is that you can’t leave the Wi-Drive plugged in to charge while you are using it. Any time the USB cable is connected, the wireless features turn off because the device thinks you want to add files from a computer.
This is why I generally don’t stream video off this accessory. Instead I use the built-in web browser to download files onto my tablet, then turn the Wi-Drive off. Used this way, you can get days of use.
If you’re like me, your tablet turned out to be a lot better at showing video that you thought it was going to be, and now you’re kicking yourself for getting the 16GB version. Or maybe the versions with more storage capacity were beyond your price range when you were first buying your device. In either case, the Kingston Wi-Dive can be a lifesaver.
Plus is flexible: you can use it with multiple devices — at the same time or if you buy another tablet someday you’ll still have this extra storage capacity.
This accessory is sometimes a bit kludgey and it isn’t cheap — the 16GB version goes for $50 to $60 — but it fills in a significant flaw in the iPad and Galaxy Tab. As such, you might almost consider it priceless.