Too much is never enough. Not only does it sound like the title of a lost Sean Connery “James Bond” film, but it’s often true when dealing with tablets. For while their processors may be getting much faster and their apps more sophisticated, the amount of storage shipped with tablets is still a fraction of what you’d find on most laptops and most don’t have standard USB connections. One solution to this are wireless drives — islands of storage that create their own wifi hotspot — to which tablets such as the iPad can connect and access photos, music and, of course, movies.
1. For the Movie Mogul: Seagate GoFlex Satellite
Buy: From Seagate
Do you need to get away from it all except your data? Are you planning to a hot air balloon flight around the world or jail time in the most minimal of security prisons? Then the Seagate GoFlex Satellite is the external wifi-based storage option for you. Boasting 500GB of storage in a banded frame that looks a bit like a boxier iPhone 4 chassis, the device can hold hundreds of movies and seasons and seasons of television shows, not to mention more music than you could listen to in several months of nonstop listening. Alas, it’s also the largest of the products tested, and something that probably shouldn’t be jostled too much while in use.
The GoFlex Satellite works with Macs and PCs and can accommodate much larger files than other products; the catch is that you have to run a small installation program on the Mac that lets it recognize certain types of PC files. And given the sheer number of files it can accommodate, the drive’s iPad app goes to lengths to sort things in different categories as opposed to the vanilla lists of other wireless drives.
2. For the Flash Mobber: Kingston Wi-Drive
Buy: From Amazon
Price: $73 to $140
While it may not have the rich history in flash memory that Seagate has in hard drives, Kingston is one of the premiere RAM and flash memory brands, The Wi-Drive starts at 16GB of RAM. If the GoFlex Satelite looks a bit like a fat iPhone 4S, the Wi-Drive seems inspired by its predecessor, the iPhone 3GS with its curved back and slim platform. The slimmest of the devices in this Roundup, the Wi-Drive slips easily into a pocket, although its companion iPad app is somewhat barebones.
3. For the Card Player: AirStash A02
Buy: From Amazon
Price: $120 to $14
The original AirStash was one of the first portable products to share data with a mobile device by creating a hotspot. Its second iteration is smaller and more streamlined and the company added an iOS app long ago to simplify the transfer. The smallest of these products in terms of overall footprint. It resembles a fat USB memory drive and includes a USB connector that, like the now-discontinued Flip camcorders, eliminates the need for a cable in transferring files. The AirStash comes bundled with an 8GB SD card, half of what comes with the Wi-Drive, but you can upgrade that or pop in the one in your digital camera to transfer images wirelessly to your iPad. The makers of the AirStash are also working on an addition that can let you access the AirStash and the internet at the same time, a feature that the GoFlex satellite offers.
Ross Rubin is principal analyst at at Reticle Research, an advisory firm focusing on consumer technologies. He is also a senior columnist for Engadget, where he has written the Switched On column since October 2004. Ross blogs at Techspressive and you can follow him @rossrubin.