August 05, 2011, 2:13 PM — A couple of weeks ago I wrote briefly about the Kingston Wi-Drive and now that it's shipping and I've got the latest firmware installed on my evaluation unit, it's time to take a deeper look.
The Wi-Drive is a portable, battery-powered, Wi-Fi-enabled storage system designed to provide additional storage capacity for up to three computers over Wi-Fi connections. It can support bridging to another Wi-Fi service, and offers specific support for iOS devices through free apps.
At 121mm by 62mm by 10mm, the Wi-Drive is smaller than an iPhone and weighs a mere 85 grams (I've gone metric this week ... that's three ounces in real money).
There's a USB 2.0 port, two of the dreaded blue LEDs to indicate Wi-Fi and bridging activity, and a power button that lights up according to the battery charge (green for 75%-100%, orange for 25%-75% and red for less than 25%). Curiously, for once, the LEDs aren't too bright; if anything, they aren't bright enough! In particular, the power button color is hardly visible under regular office lighting!
The rechargeable battery is good for about four hours of use though, once running, you can connect it to the included power adapter and have unlimited operation time.
The Wi-Drive provides secured 802.11n Wi-Fi access (both WPA and WEP are supported) to both its content and to any network it bridges to. Wi-Fi access to onboard content is read-only via HTTP, but you'll want to be careful who you let access your Wi-Drive as there are no other access controls for content, bridging or the Wi-Drive's configuration.
ANALYSIS: Why Wi-Fi as we know it is in trouble
The iOS apps are, as I noted in my previous column, stable and functional, but they aren't particularly sophisticated. For example, they don't attempt to switch the Wi-Fi connection to connect to the Wi-Drive; if the Wi-Drive can't be found, the app just dumbly sits there until you get a connection and click on the application's "home" button.
The iOS apps actually aren't complicated: They simply reframe Web pages loaded from the Wi-Drive via HTTP, which means any device with a Web browser connected to the Wi-Drive via Wi-Fi can also access the same Web pages, albeit with a slightly "clunkier" user interface.