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3 wireless media hubs: Extra storage for mobile devices

Rick Broida | Sept. 16, 2013
Travelers who want to take some extra storage and battery power along with them should check out these three mobile devices.

Stocked with a 5,200mAh battery, the Wi-Copy can run for 14 hours -- nearly three times as long as Kingston's hub and 50% longer than Iogear's. (But if you forget to turn it off, tough luck: There's no auto-off feature to preserve the battery after a period of inactivity, as I discovered the hard way.)

And like those units, it can deliver power via its 2A USB port, a great way recharge your gizmos (tablets included) on the go. You can also plug in an Ethernet cable and turn the Wi-Copy into a mobile wireless router -- handy for hotel rooms that lack Wi-Fi.

Although every feature I tried worked as advertised, the Wi-Copy app (which is what enables media streaming and file management) suffers from some issues.

First and foremost, there's no simple pass-through option -- no way to reconnect to a Wi-Fi network after you've connected your phone or tablet to the Wi-Copy. It's possible, but only by venturing into the browser on your mobile device and manually accessing settings that should be available within the app. And this confusingly named "Wi-Fi Repeater" mode is described only in the full manual, which is available only online, not in the included quick-start guide.

The Wi-Copy app lacks a search option, and it's terrible at streaming music. You can choose individual songs to play, but not playlists or even just folders. There's no shuffle option, and on my iPhone I couldn't get the next-track function to work. What's more, although I had an easy time offloading photos from my Camera Roll to an SD card, all of them revealed upside-down thumbnails when I viewed them in the Wi-Copy app.

Another nit: SD cards are left protruding way out from the front of the Wi-Copy, instead of tucking all the way in like they do on the Iogear and Kingston drives.

Bottom line
With its big battery and impressive feature set, the Wi-Copy deserves consideration. But Carry Technology definitely needs to improve its apps before it earns a full recommendation.

Iogear MediaShair Hub
Price: $99.95 (direct); $57.48 - $79.46 (retail)

The 4-oz. MediaShair looks like a miniature router, an apt description because it doubles as a mobile access point. And, like the other two hubs in this roundup, it triples as a mobile charger. But Iogear's device, which measures 2.8 x 3.7 x 0.6 in., has the best design of the three, from its beautiful glossy white finish to its large LED icons that clearly indicate battery, Wi-Fi, Internet and SD status. Amazingly, it's also the most compact of the hubs, even if it does weigh a fraction more than Kingston's MobileLite Wireless.

 

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