Top 5 Wireless Portable Hard Drives



With a web developer, an avid photographer and a graphics designer in the team, we have invested in network storage and backups in our workplace including cloud solutions for backing up to the web. But we were never quite sure how to bring our files with us especially when we are on assignments abroad or working away from the office.

Accessing files remotely or in the cloud meant we had to have a reliable Internet connection in the country we are in and that usually meant relying on our expensive and metered mobile data plan or internet connections in the cafe. Working with big graphics and photos also meant transferring huge files over the Internet is inefficient. We needed a solution…

Life would have been so much easier for us and other mobile workers out there if we had a wireless portable hard drive that can be shared among all the different devices; laptop, smartphone and tablets but why limit it to just business and work.

Why Wireless Portable Storage

Here are some other reasons why one might need a wireless portable storage solution. Spending hours on long haul flights, trains or buses for your commute to work and wished you have all your High Definition movies, entire season’s TV series, music collection, photos or even work with you.

Or knowing that you are going on a road trip and wished you can bring enough movies to keep the kids happy on their devices. Or wished you had a way of backing up all your photos from your smartphone, camera and mobile devices while you are on holiday, to free up some space for more photos.

The answer is a  portable hard drive with mobile WiFi and battery built-in. Here is a quick comparison of the top 5 most popular wireless portable hard drive currently in the market.

Wireless Mobile Storage Devices

The list below shows our criteria for comparison. For each device we are going to look at the following:

  • Storage size(s)
  • Wireless capabilities
  • Mobile app and file formats supported
  • Dimension & weight
  • Battery life
  • Price(s)
  • Rating

We will be comparing the following:

Update 2014

Earlier this year at CES 2014, Lacie announced the Lacie FUEL, a portable wireless storage solution aimed at iOS devices. This neat little package features a rugged look and bright orange corner that doubles as a hook more on this at the bottom of the article so keep reading

Latest Wireless Mobile Storage Devices

Over time, more and more Wireless Portable Hard Drives have become available. We are looking to review more of the same in the very near future. BUT, if you can’t wait, here is a quick list for your consideration:

corsairvoyagerair1Corsair Voyager Air 1TB USB 3.0 Portable Wireless Hard Drive – Red/Black 7 hours

The Voyager Air is a three in one portable wireless drive. It can function as a home network drive when connected to the router via its Gigabit Ethernet port or the home wireless network, the only device in this line up that comes with an Ethernet port. You can connect it directly using the USB 3.0 port to your computer as a external hard drive or turn on the wireless hub mode to serve files to your mobile devices while on the go.

 

When on the home network, use smart TVs, Blu Ray players, gaming console or streaming media boxes to access videos or music from the hard drive. Or charge it up and take it with you as your mobile office companion or entertainment hub serving up your files (movies, TV shows, music and files) for long road trips, business trip, long commutes and vacations.
Its built in wireless capability meant multiple mobile devices can connect to it and access its media library without the need for an external wireless network. Corsair claims that it can hold up to 5 devices streaming high definition video content simultaneously for up to 7 hours between charge.

There is a feature that not all devices listed here has it, the Voyager Air allows you to connect to a public hotspot (hotels or libraries) and enable wireless pass through to share Internet access with other mobile devices. iOS app supports AirPlay. Car adapter included.

Storage size(s): 500GB, 1TB
Wireless capabilities: 802.11B, 802.11G, 802.11n, Streams HD video to up to 5 users at one time, connect up to 8 devices, range up to 90 feet, wireless hub with pass through for Internet access sharing. [Best Performer]
Mobile app and file formats supported: iOS (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch) and Android (smartphones and tablets) with Corsair Voyager Air app

  • Video: MP4, MOV (iOS only), M4V (iOS only)
  • Images: JPG, PNG
  • Music: MP3, M4A (iOS only)
  • Documents: DOC, XLS, PPT, PDF

Connectivity: Gigabit Ethernet, WiFi or USB 3.0
Dimension & weight
243 x 174 x 50 mm 531 gram [Biggest and Heaviest]
Battery life: 7 Hours
Price: £139 (1TB)

Rating: 5.0 Star ★★★★★ [Tie with Seagate Wireless Plus]

seagatewirelessplus1Seagate 1TB Wireless Plus USB 3.0 Mobile Device Storage – Brushed Metal 10 hours

The Seagate Wireless Plus lets you carry and stream your movies, songs and access files on your mobile devices while on the go. It comes with a USB 3.0 port so you can connect to your desktop and laptop and transfer files to it quickly. The free Seagate Media app is available for iOS (iPad, iPhone), Kindle Fire and Android devices.

 

The built in WiFi is capable of streaming up to 3 different HD movies to 3 devices simultaneously, and up to 8 devices connected at the same time to access photos, songs or documents. While it doesn’t come with an Ethernet port let alone Gigabit Ethernet, the 10-hour battery life more than make up for it.

As with Corsair’s Voyager Air, it is capable of creating its own WiFi network removing the need for wires, internet hotspot or tethering on your phone. Access the media library using DLNA compatible devices such as game consoles, media players, smart TVs and Blu-ray player to enjoy movies, photos and music on the big screen. There is also a dedicated App on Samsung’s smart TV media hub that lets you access the library on a visually rich interface.

The Seagate Media app on iOS has AirPlay feature allowing you to not only stream and view videos on your iPad or iPhone but lets you switch to the big screen via Apple TV or listen to songs on AirPlay enabled speakers. When connected to a WiFi Internet hotspot, it is also capable of of sharing its Internet access with 7 other devices and lets you access the media library while you browse the Internet.

An earlier and cheaper model, the Seagate GoFlex Satellite Mobile Wireless Storage is also available with 500GB storage and 5 hours battery life.

Storage size(s): 1TB. 2TB
Wireless capabilities: 802.11B, 802.11G, 802.11n, Streams HD video to up to 3 devices at one time, file sharing up to 8 devices, range up to 150 feet, wireless hub with pass through for Internet access sharing.
Mobile app and file formats supported: iOS (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch), Android (smartphones and tablets) and Kindle Fire with Seagate Media app. For file formats which are not supported natively, the app offers the option to download the file onto the device and use a third party app for playback, alternatively there are third party app that will stream videos directly.

  • Video: H.264 video, MPEG-4, Motion-JPEG
  • Images: JPG
  • Music: AAC, MP3, M4a, Audible (formats 2, 3, 4), Apple Lossless, AIFF, WAV
  • Documents: Microsoft® Office®, iWork®, Adobe® Acrobat® (PDF)

Connectivity: WiFi or USB 3.0
Dimension & weight127 x 89 x 19.9 mm 256 gram [Smallest]
Battery life: 10 Hours [Best Battery Life]
Price: £109.00 (1TB), £166 (2TB)

Rating: 5.0 Star ★★★★★ [Tie with Corsair Voyager Air]

buffaloministationair1Buffalo MiniStation Air 500GB USB 3.0 & Wireless Portable Storage – Black 4 hours

Available only with 500GB storage option, the Buffalo MiniStation Air is one of the first wireless portable storage in the market. The unit is the smaller among those reviewed here with a built in hard drive but not the lightest. Upload and share files over the WiFi from smartphones and tablets using the MiniStation Air app. It allows internet access via WiFi connection when using ‘Internet mode’.

WiFi setup is easy with WPS or AOSS (pressing connect button), secure connection with WPA2 wireless encrypton. For large files, use the wireless hard drive as a connected storage and transfer files via the USB 3.0 port. For its poor battery life, limited functionality and only half the storage size compared to its hard disk based peers, we give it a 3 star rating.

Storage size(s): 500GB
Wireless capabilities: 802.11B, 802.11G, 802.11n, stream HD videos simultaneously up to 3 devices, connect up to 8 devices at one time, range not available, wireless hub with pass through for Internet access sharing.
Mobile app and file formats supported: iOS (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch) and Android (smartphones and tablets) with MiniStation Air app.

  • Video: MOV, MP4, MPV, 3GP, MPEG-4 V2 (simple profile), H.264
  • Image: GIF, JPEG, PNG, TIFF, BMP
  • Music: AAC-LC, MP3
  • Documents: MS Office 97 or later, PDF, Text, Rich Text Format (RTF) documents

Connectivity: WiFi or USB 3.0
Dimension & weight: 130 x 84 x 23 mm 285 gram
Battery life: 4 Hours
Price£101.38 (500GB)

Rating: 2.0 Star ★★☆☆☆

patriotaero-iso-left300Patriot Aero PCGTW1000S/PCGTW500S USB3.0 Wireless Mobile Drive – Black 6 hours

Available with 500GB or 1TB storage option, the Patriot Aero is by no means inspiring in terms of design. Also available is the Patriot Gauntlet Node Wireless Hard drive enclosure. Stream HD movies (720p) simultaneously up to 5 devices (maximum connected devices 8).

Other features include WiFi access point with Internet pass through for Internet connection sharing, wireless security using either WEP, WPA or WPA2, push button battery level indicator and support for 3rd party apps. It has a middling battery life at 6 hours, better than the 4 hours on Buffalo MiniStation Air but not as good as the Corsair Voyager Air (7 hours) or Seagate Wireless Plus (10 hours)

Storage size(s)500GB / 1TB
Wireless capabilities: 802.11B, 802.11G, 802.11n, stream HD videos simultaneously up to 5 devices, connect up to 8 devices at one time, range not available, wireless hub with pass through for Internet access sharing.
Mobile app and file formats supported: iOS (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch), Android (smartphones and tablets) and Kindle Fire app with Patriot Connect app.

  • Video: MP4, MOV, M4V
  • Image: JPEG, PNG
  • Music: MP3, M4A
  • Documents: DOC, XLS, PPT, PDF

Connectivity: WiFi or USB 3.0
Dimension & weight: 139 x 86 x 24.4 mm 295 gram
Battery life: 6 Hours
Price£166.95 (1GB)£118.96 (500GB)

Rating: 3.0 Star ★★★☆☆

spskysharehd101-300Silicon Power Sky Share H10 500GB or 1TB USB3.0 Wireless Hard Drive – Piano Black 5 hours

While the WiFi performance is good with built-in 2T2R antenna that provides 1.5 times faster data transfer rate at speeds of up to 300Mbps, the battery life is again, slightly on the lower side at 5 hours. The package is small and light, in a piano black plastic body with a circular ripple design that focuses on the power button. This design is multiple award winning (Golden Pin Design Mark 2012 and Tom’s Hardware Best of Computex 2012).

As with all the devices featured here, it supports network connection mode (WiFi bridge mode) allowing devices to access the hard disk while connected to the Internet. The Sky Share app lets you download and upload files from mobile devices and change the wireless settings on the wireless mobile hard drive. The drive can be recharged using the USB 3.0 port.

Specifications

  • Storage size(s): 500GB / 1TB
  • Wireless capabilities: 802.11B, 802.11G, 802.11n, stream HD videos simultaneously up to 3 devices, connect up to 8 devices at one time, range up to 100 feet, wireless hub with pass through for Internet access sharing.
  • Mobile app and file formats supported: iOS (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch), Android (smartphones and tablets) with Sky Share app
    • Video: MP4, MOV, M4V on iOS, M4V, MP4 on Android
    • Image: JPEG, PNG, BMP, GIF on iOS, JPEG, PNG on Android
    • Music: MP3 on iOS, MP3, WMA on Android
    • Documents: DOC, XLS, PPT, PDF
  • Connectivity: WiFi or USB 3.0
  • Dimension & weight: 133 x 86 x 23.5 mm 255 gram [Lightest]
  • Battery life: 5 Hours

Price£101.79 (1GB)£78.45 (500GB) – Offer Prices [Best Value]

Rating: 3.0 Star ★★★☆☆

LaCie Fuel 1TB or 2TB Wireless 3.0 USB – Gray and Orange – 10 Hours Battery Life

Thanks to one of our readers, we have come to learn more about the LaCie Fuel. This is the only other device that has the long battery life of 10 hours. It’s one thing to be portable, it’s another to stay on for further and longer so well done to LaCie for designing longevity into the FUEL. Capable of up to 150 feed or 45 meters transmission range, this is sufficient for normal use. The FUEL supports up to a maximum of 5 devices at any one time and the ability to hold 3 HD video streams simultaneously (8 hours of continuous video streaming). LaCie boast that the FUEL is compatible with iOS devices and is able to stream to Apple TV and AirPlay enabled devices (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch).

If you are on the go; long road trip, hours on the training or transit at the airport, the device can operate in router mode and serves up its own WiFi network allowing up to 5 devices to connect and access its storage together without the need for an Internet connection. BUT should you be stopping at a cafe or hotel with WiFi, then the FUEL can connect to the Internet via the hotspot and allow up to 4 wireless devices to go online. In preparing for your long trip, should you need to carry all that High Definition video, simply connect the FUEL up to your laptop and transfer this quickly using the USB 3.0 cable supplied.

So what about App you may ask. These devices need to come with compatible App, surely to support browsing and streaming of the different media as well as files. Here is where it gets interesting. LaCie recommends Seagate’s Free Media App. Seagate Media App also featured here for the Seagate 1TB Wireless Plus portable hard drive is a versatile app that supports a great list of different files; video, images, music and documents. The app also works as a back up or local storage application that lets you transfer files between your mobile device and the hard drive. You can also set the Seagate Media Sync software to synchronise all your media files with the FUEL automatically to make you that you have a backup copy.

A great all rounder app backed by one of the biggest names in storage. Best of all, the Seagate Media App is available for iOS, Android and Amazon Kindle, so if you have more than one type of device in the family, the FUEL will play well with all of them. We found cross promotions between Seagate and LaCie as they use the same App on their respective websites. The package comes with the Hard Drive, USB 3.0 Cable, USB wall charger and quick guide. With its 1TB storage, the following numbers are quoted for the different types of media.

  • 300 high-definition (HD) movies (1.5GB MP4 H.264),
  • 125,000 songs, or
  • 100,000 photos.

Specifications

  • Storage size(s): 1TB, 2TB
  • Wireless Capabilities: Wireless Ethernet 802.11 b/g/n with up to 5 devices connected simultaneously, support 3 HD video stream at once.
  • Mobile App: Seagate Media App to access your media library on Lacie Fuel as well as stream to Apple TV and AirPlay devices
  • Connectivity: WiFi (b/g/n) or USB 3.0
  • Dimension & weight: 115 x 115 x 23 mm 300 gram [New Square Profile]
  • Battery life: 10 Hours

Price: £125 (1TB)£165 (2TB)

Rating: 5.0 Star ★★★★★

The Other Wireless Drives

WD My Passport Wireless Mobile Storage – Black and Gray 6 Hours

WDMyPassportWireless

 

What You Need to Know

  • Storage size(s): 1TB, 2TB
  • Wireless capabilities: Wireless N and MIMO enhanced wireless performance, supports 4 HD video streams at one time, connect up to 8 devices, range up to 90 feet, wireless hub with pass through for Internet access sharing. Configure, manage, secure and diagnose the drive using the intuitive dashboard.
  • Mobile app and file formats supported: WD My Cloud Mobile app for iOS (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch) and Android (smartphones and tablets)
    • Video: MP4, MOV (iOS only), M4V (iOS only)
    • Images: JPG, PNG
    • Music: MP3, M4A (iOS only)
    • Documents: DOC, XLS, PPT, PDF
  • Connectivity: WiFi or USB 3.0 and Built-in SD Card Slot
  • Dimension & weight: 12.7 x 8.6 x 3 cm, 349 grams
  • Battery life: 6 Hours (20 hours standby time)

Price: £172 (1TB), £216 (2TB)

Rating: 3.6 Stars

Intenso 500GB/1TB Memory 2 Move WiFi Mobile Hard Drive USB 3.0 – Black or White  6 hours

IntensoMemory2Move

What You Need to Know

  • Storage size(s): 500GB, 1TB
  • Wireless capabilities: Wireless 802.11b/g/n with WPA/WPA2 encryption supports 4 HD video streams at one time, connect up to 5 devices, range up to 90 feet. Wireless hub with pass through for Internet access sharing. Configure, manage, secure and diagnose the drive using the intuitive dashboard.
  • Mobile app and supported file formats: Memory 2 Move app for iOS (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch) and Android (smartphones and tablets)
    • copy, edit or delete personal file
    • upload photos and videos from your mobile devices
    • download or stream music, video or pictures to your mobile devices
    • share data securely over WPA and WPA2 up to 5 users at the same time
    • access data and surf the Internet simultaneously with Internet pass through
  • Connectivity: WiFi or USB 3.0
  • Dimension & weight: 19 x 3.5 x 11.4 cm, 204 grams
  • Battery life: 6 Hours

Price: £63 (500GB), £91 (1TB)

Rating: 3 Stars

Samsung 1.5TB Wireless Mobile Media Streaming Device USB 3.0 – Gray 7 Hours

SamsungWirelessMobileMediaStreaming

What You Need to Know

  • Storage size(s): 1.5TB
  • Wireless capabilities: Wireless 802.11b/g/n supports up to 5 devices at once. It also lets you charge your mobile device using the USB port. Wireless hub to support local streaming and provide Internet access.
  • Mobile app and supported file formats: Samsung mobile app for Android. No app for iOS or Windows Phone.
  • Connectivity: WiFi or USB 3.0
  • Dimension & weight: TBC
  • Battery life: 7 Hours

Price: £115 (1.5TB)

Rating4.6 Stars

Buffalo 500GB /1TB MiniStation Air 2 Mobile Wireless Storage USB 3.0 – Silver 12 Hours

BuffaloMiniStationAir2

What You Need to Know

  • Storage size(s): 500GB1TB
  • Wireless capabilities: Wireless 802.11b/g/n supports up to 8 devices and up to 3 HD streams at once. It also lets you charge your mobile device using the USB port. Wireless hub to support local streaming and provide Internet access. Uses the Buffalo AirStation One-Touch Secure System and WiFi Protected Setup (WPS) for quick and easy connection.
  • Mobile app and supported file formats: Buffalo MiniStation Air 2 mobile app for iOS and Android
  • Connectivity: WiFi or USB 3.0
  • Dimension & weight: 14 x 8.4 x 1.8 cm, 254 grams
  • Battery life: 7 Hours

Price: £91 (500GB), £129 (1TB)

Rating: 5.0 Stars

Corsair 1TB Voyager Air 2 Plus Mobile Wireless Storage USB 3.0 and Gigabit Ethernet – Black 7 hours

The successor to the Voyager Air featured above, the Voyager Air 2 Plus is smaller and lighter than its predecessor and still spot the same 7 hours battery life, Gigabit Ethernet and USB3.0 connectivity. Wireless hub with pass through for Internet access sharing. Also supports cloud storage syncing with Dropbox and Google Drive.

VoyagerAir2

What You Need to Know

  • Storage size(s): 500GB1TB. Can be formatted for OS X and Time Machine compatible
  • Wireless capabilities: Wireless 802.11 b/g/n supports up to 5 devices and up to 5 HD streams at once. Wireless range up to 90 feet (30 metres). Compatible with AirPlay and DLNA devices. Supports cloud storage sync with Dropbox and Google Drive.
  • Mobile app and supported file formats: Redesigned Corsair Voyager Air mobile app for iOS and Android
  • Connectivity: Gigabit Ethernet, WiFi or USB 3.0
  • Dimension & weight: 82 x 137 mm
  • Battery life: 7 Hours

Price: £112.80(1TB)

Rating: 5.0 Stars

Final Thoughts

The appeal that you need not be limited to the expensive storage especially on iOS devices (iPhone and iPad) to hold your media files and that you can backup your image files (photos) and document from your iPad to free up even more space for Apps and captured media (video and more images) are definitely strong points for buying an wireless portable hard drive. The possibilities of taking your data with you be it for work or play on a device with sufficient battery life to last through the day or more gives users more reason to get one. 2014 is going to be the year for portable wireless hard drives albeit quietly.




Sam is a tech evangelist, e-learning and learning platform enthusiast, tablet and smartphone chomping maniac, mac and windows zealot, wireless & network genius, developer, designer, user experience tinkerer, moodle and sharepoint two timer, social media junkie, web analyst and server engineer (and an all round good guy). He has over 17 years of tech experience ranging from ground-breaking university research networks to high level secure government extranet projects. He has overseen many megabuck project deployments from Building Schools for Future to harnessing technology, improving sustainability and realising a performance framework for technology in school. And now, while every other so-called expert and consultant is plotting away on world domination, Sam is quietly working on helping each and every teacher, lecturer and trainer, one school at a time to make the most of Technology for Teaching to enrich every child’s learning experience.

7 Comments

  1. Wireless Portable Media Hubs | Colour My Learning
    Feb 05, 2014 @ 15:53:08

    […] […]

    Reply

  2. TRC
    Apr 30, 2014 @ 19:24:30

    I don’t know if I can ask you here about a product, but reading your Top 5 Wireless Hard Drives article had me wondering.

    I have a SetTopBox Media Player connected to my TV, and I also have a USB HDD which I use to copy movies and such on it, and watch it on my TV. Occassionally I record some shows and watch them later. But if I need to copy some other material on it, then I have to unplug my USB HDD, bring it to my PC, copy the files on it, then bring it back…etc. It’s a bit of a troublesome thing to do. Then I’ve read your article.

    The reason I’m writing to you is this: I’m looking for a Wireless USB HDD that I can use with my SetTopBox. I’ve searched everywhere, but I’ve found no answers to my question, and I hope you have the answers for me.

    The Wireless Usb HDD I’m looking for can work with both WiFi and USB modes, because I may want to watch some movies connected via USB WHILE I copy some files over WiFi. I hope you know a device like this, with a minimum amount of 100 GB capacity, or if I could upgrade the HDD in it that would be good as well. I don’t need extra things like Internet, streaming and such, I’m just looking for a solution that works with USB usage (watching movies while connected via USB to my SetTopBox) AND copying files over WiFi (while connected to USB and watching movies).

    Reply

    • Colour My Learning
      Apr 30, 2014 @ 19:26:57

      Hi TRC,

      Not sure about the specifics but you could try the following as a solution, a wireless media hub.

      The portable wireless media hub lets you use your existing flash memory and USB hard drive and is cheaper to buy.

      There is a second USB port on the media hub that supports direct connectivity which should work with your set top box but do check with the
      manufacturer.

      You can connect your existing USB flash drives or even USB hard disks, and share it wirelessly with all your mobile devices (laptop, smartphone,
      tablet).

      You can also connect it straight to your router or local area network as some media hubs comes with Ethernet network port.

      Take a look at the EasyAcc Wi-Stor as an example.

      This is not the easiest to configure if you read the thread on the video below but it gives you an idea of what the device is capable of.

      I hope this helps. Do let us know how you get on.

      Reply

  3. Rakesh
    Jul 23, 2014 @ 17:07:07

    Can these wireless storage be accessed simultaneously while using wifi for internet connectivity

    Reply

    • Colour My Learning
      Jul 24, 2014 @ 12:39:32

      Hi Rakesh,

      Most wireless storage comes with feature to connect to the Internet using existing WiFi hotspot. You can then connect to the hub and access the media files on the hard drive and the Internet simultaneously.

      If you are thinking of using a smartphone to access the Internet and creating a Personal Hotspot for your other devices, the wireless storage will need to be connected to this Personal Hotspot while your other devices, tablets, laptops etc will need to connect to the wireless hub to enjoy the Internet pass through feature.

      Remember to check the specification of the wireless hard drive you are thinking of purchasing. There should be a feature for Internet access sharing that lets you connect to the hard drive and access both the files on there and share the Internet connection simultaneously.

      Reply

      • Rakesh
        Jul 24, 2014 @ 16:06:39

        I wish to use the wifi HDD not as a hub but direct access from a laptop while simultenously surfing the net

        Reply

  4. Rakesh
    Sep 12, 2014 @ 04:49:11

    I am looking for portable disk drive with wifi access for my MS-office suite files (word, excel). I am come across wifi disks for media files but yet to find some thing which can be useful for usual day-2-day use files

    Reply

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