Review: WD My Passport Wireless
Most of you will know that I hate wires and cables the previous tech reviews I have done. If I can buy something that comes wireless I will! When I was given the chance to take the WD My Passport 1TB Wireless Portable Hard Drive for test run, I jumped at the chance!
In a nutshell, what the WD My Passport 1TB Wireless Portable Hard Drive is is a portable hard drive with a wifi network and built-in battery pack. If you are looking lightweight, convenient, compact unit to store and transfer your data without the need of cables or wires, this could be the answer you have been searching for.
Using a Bus-Powered USB 3.0 portable drive, with embedded wi-fi network capabilities AND built-in battery, when connected to a computer, the WD My Passport Wireless Portable runs just like any other portable hard drive. You can save, transfer, alter, etc data like you normally would. However, if running using its inbuilt battery and not plugged into your PC or laptop, it then becomes a wireless server for your various media.
|Drive type||2.5-inch external USB hard drive with internal Wi-Fi access point and battery|
|Connector options||USB 3.0, USB 2.0 (for both data and charging)|
|Dimensions||500GB: 5 by 3.39 by 0.86 inches (127x86x21mm) | 1 TB : 5 by 3.39 by 0.96 inches (127x86x24.4mm) | 2 TB: 5 by 3.39 by 1.17 inches (127x86x29.8mm)|
|Weight||500GB: .55 lb (0.25kg) | 1TB: .60 lb (0.27kg) | 2TB: .77 lb (0.35kg)|
|Apps included||WD My Cloud (Android and iOS)|
|Capacities / File system||500GB, 1TB, 2TB / ExFAT|
|Supported operating systems||Android, iOS, Microsoft Windows XP or later, Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later|
|Concurrent Wi-Fi clients supported||8 total, 4 for HD streaming|
The WD wireless portable hard drive is very compact unit. It’s small enough to fit in the palm of your hand or slip in to a pocket. It’s not bulky and like most WD external products, its design and ‘feel’ are pleasant on the eye. At around 12.5cm long and 8.5cm wide, its just shy of being the size of an old iPhone 4. Depending on whether you opt for the 1TB or 2TB hard drive, the thickness of the unit will vary slightly, but at just under 3cm thick for the 2TB model, it’s by no means bulky. Comparatively, the unit is about the same size as most small external hard drives on the market, it just has better capabilities.
Looking at the unit, the Passport Wireless has a power indicator light and also a light to indicate the strength of the WiFi network you have created. The power light changes colour according to the amount of juice it has left.
To one side you will find a micro USB 3.0 port which can be used for charging the device, but also for wired data connections. There is also a small button which sits next to the USB port. This button not only controls the on and off functions, but it will also illuminate battery indicator light if pressed once. Holding this button for a few seconds will allow to connect with other devices which have Wi-Fi turned on.
How it works
Most portable hard drives on the market are bus powered. This means that they get their power from the device that they are connected to such as a USB port on a lap top. What is great about the WD portable is that you don’t need to carry around a cable to access your data, music, photos or whatever it is you keep on the hard drive. Simply turn it on, connect your device (laptop or tablet) to the Wi-Fi connection it and then access the files. It really is that simple! No cords. No wires. No fuss!
Stream music or videos with ease and without clogging up your laptop or tablet’s hard drive. Set up an access point during a meeting for attendees to access your documents in once central location. It’s streamlined and easy to it’s easy to use.
You will need to download an app if you want to use your phone or tablet to access the files. It did take a little bit of getting used to; however the app has your three main file types mapped out – music, photos and videos so they are relatively painless to gain access to.
You will need to make sure that the device you are using to access the data from has the relevant applications such as PDF view, Excel or Word etc to be able to open the files.
The My Passport wireless comes pre-formatted in ExFAT straight out the box. This allows use for both Windows and Mac OS. There is no ‘Windows Only’ or ‘Mac OS only’ which was a big tick in my books as its not only costs effective (as Mac external drives can be pretty costly!) but it makes transferring data across the two operating systems far easier as there is no conflict.
Speed wise, the My Passport Wireless is pretty quick off the mark. Using the USB 3.0 connection, we were able to get on average of around 110MBps for both reading and writing. Obviously this will change depending on the size of the file that you are transferring over. USB 2.0 will be substantially slower.
I did like the fact that there was an SD slot on the device. This made accessing photos from a camera quite easy, but you will need to move anything that you have saved and want to access from the SD card over to the hard drive first. I found this a little backwards myself, however the accessibility of being able to move your data from the SD card onto the hard drive whilst out an about (on a holiday for example) kind of evened my feelings out about this minor ‘annoyance’ I had about it. It was a pretty quick process; it just seemed a little odd that I couldn’t access the right off the card directly.
When playing back a movie on my laptop (it was high def quality) there was a little deterioration in the quality of the stream and it was a little jolty at times. However, when playing the same movie on my Samsung tablet it was perfect. Again, not a major annoyance, but it is a little bit of a downfall in the bandwidth speed not being able to keep with the likes of a laptop having a much larger screen to display on.
The Wi-Fi range was quite impressive. The My Passport Wireless reportedly has around a 30mtr range. I personally didn’t test this to the metre (my neighbours were already giving me odd looks as I was walking backwards down the driveway testing it out!) however, I got about 15-20mtrs away from it whilst playing back music and it was still going strong with no interruption. I would say around the 12-15mtrs maximum distance for streaming a high def movie as it did start to crackle a little and lose some quality. But again, who is going to be wandering that far away?
The unit has around a 6 hour battery life and whilst this doesn’t seem like a lot, the bulk of the battery will be sucked up by the fast wi-fi connection you are getting. This will go down slightly if you had multiple users connected at the same time. However, you do have the option of plugging it in via USB should it need a recharge. I can’t imagine myself needing to access files off a hard drive for 6 hours straight, so this really wasn’t too much of a concern for me. Standby battery life is around 20 hours, however like most tech items, if you turn them off when not in use the battery will last much longer.
I did not that the drive was constantly humming, even after I had disconnected the devices from it. This will contribute to the battery life draining away, so as noted above turn it off if you aren’t using it to preserve the battery.
Whats the verdict?
Overall, the My Passport Wireless is brilliant! I can’t fault too much on it at all. Besides the short-ish battery life (and by short-ish, most external wireless drives have around a 7-8 hours battery life!),it has good data transfer speeds (when using USB 3.0), its light, compact and relatively easy to use. It’s capability to be able to connect an SD card on the go means no more lugging around a lap top if you want to view photos via your phone whilst on holiday. The app could be a little more user friendly, but an update should fix that. The My Passport Wireless is a pretty nifty and handy product to have in your arsenal with regards to data storage and with a WD name attached to it; you know you are buying a quality product that does the job.