My Passport goes Wireless
WD has become the latest manufacturer to enter the burgeoning wireless-storage market with the launch of the My Passport Wireless.
Available in 500GB, 1TB and 2TB capacities, the new addition to the popular My Passport line is effectively a wireless-enabled external hard drive designed to challenge existing solutions such as the Seagate Wireless Plus and Corsair Voyager Air.
The premise is simple enough: worried about the storage constraints of your various mobile devices? Then a wireless hard drive might be just the ticket. With a built-in battery and Wireless N connectivity, the My Passport Wireless can connect to up to eight devices simultaneously, giving users a means of storing, sharing and accessing content on smartphones, tablets and PCs.
WD's 1TB drive is under the spotlight and our first impressions are positive. The black-and-silver unit is reasonably light at 278g yet feels reassuringly well put together - despite the use of plastic materials, the chassis is rigid and exhibits no squeaks or rattles.
Dimensions of 86mm (W) x 24.4mm (H) x 127mm (D) ensure easy portability, though do be aware that there is a slight size discrepancy between capacities. The 500GB model is thinner at 21.8mm and the 2TB range-topper is the chunkiest of the lot, measuring 29.8mm around the midsection.
Four small rubber feet help keep the device planted to a table, and WD's presentation is neat and uncluttered throughout. The front face features just the two LEDs - one indicating power status, the other WiFi - and the battery indicator provides at-a-glance updates; it'll glow blue when full, then changes to green, orange, and finally red as the internal battery depletes.
The bulk of the activity takes place at the top of the device, where you'll find a USB 3.0 connector flanked by a power button and a WiFi connect button that can also be pressed to highlight battery status when the My Passport Wireless is powered off.
Simple enough so far, but WD's most important addition is arguably the SD card slot integrated along the side of the device. A real boon for photographers, the My Passport Wireless can be configured to automatically copy across the contents of an SD card, making it easy to back up your photos while on the go and keep shooting.
My Passport Wireless can be charged from any USB interface (a mains adaptor is supplied) and is powered on with a single button press. The device takes toughly 30 seconds to boot to a usable state, and the first thing you'll want to do is connect to the device and configure it to your needs.
The easiest way, we feel, is to establish a direct wireless connection from a PC or laptop. The My Passport Wireless automatically broadcasts an unsecured network (SSID MyPassport) and once connected you can point your browser to http://mypassport (or http://mypassport.local on a Mac) to access the built-in dashboard.
WD's on-screen wizard starts by asking you to secure the preconfigured access point with a WPA2 password. That essentially is all most users will need to do in order to get up and running, as any device can at this point connect to the MyPassport network securely and access drive contents.
More advanced users will want to seek out the other available features. Choose the Wi-Fi tab and you can configure the My Passport Wireless to connect to a third-party network for Internet-passthrough, doing so converts the device into a hotspot and gives smartphones or tablets web access while connected to the drive.
WD is keen to point out that the My Passport Wireless makes use of a dual-stream (2x2) radio, resulting in good range, reliable connectivity and decent 802.11n speeds. Connecting to the web via Internet-passthrough will never be as quick as a direct connection to your router, mind you, yet while latency is higher, we didn't have any speed concerns and were able to stream HD content without problem.