[Review] RavPower Wifi Disk/Power Bank 5-in-1 RP-WD01

Discussion in 'RavPower.com' started by TerenceL, Aug 8, 2013.

  1. TerenceL

    TerenceL Member

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    This is a detailed article reviewing one of RavPower's top-selling products
    RP-WD01 5-in-1 Wifi Disk/Power Bank. The reviewer thinks it's perfect to
    use during a flight and loves the functions of this product.

    You may get it now from Amazon for just $44.99 now:
    Amazon.com: [5-in-1] RAVPower® Wireless SD Card Reader,USB External HDD / SDD / USB Flash Disk Reader,3000mAh External Battery Pack & NAS File Server & Wi-Fi Hot Spot Wireless Media Streaming FileHub RP-WD01: Kindle Store

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I can barely contain myself long enough to write this review. For the longest time
    I’ve been searching for the ultimate, portable solution for storage for my non-microSD
    slot Nexus phones and tablets.

    We need more storage. No matter how much memory your device has on board,
    you need more; movies, documents, music, personal files – whatever it is you need –
    there is never enough room for it all. So you turn to cloud services to help ease the pain.
    Of course, there is a problem with that. What if you have no 4G? No WiFi?
    What if you’re on a plane? The cloud doesn’t help you.

    We Need A Solution

    In my article on learning to live without an SD card slot, I gave Nexus users some
    solutions to not having a microUSB slot.

    Hey, what about OTG? On The Go USB dongles that let you plug a USB storage
    device into your tablet or phone. Sure, that sorta works. If you want that USB
    charging plug blocked while you’re using it. Oh, and OTG requires ROOT to do write
    operations too. Smart consumers may also realize that OTG ports also don’t have
    enough power to drive a portable 2.5″ external drive for seriously MASS storage.

    What you REALLY need is a wireless hard drive. Yes, that would be perfect.
    What? I have to plug it into the wall? Well that ruins my plane trip. What about a
    self-powered wifi drive? They have those. The problem is – they require you to use
    a special, crippled app to access your files. Hope you didn’t bring MKV video files with
    you because that app won’t stream those. Oops. So much for THAT solution.
    Wait, what? I can’t use my WiFi connection while I’m connected to the drive? WHAT?
    Doesn’t ANYONE think this stuff through?

    Ever been on vacation and filled your camera’s SD card up and wished OH so much
    that you could dump them to your tablet? Phone? That portable drive attached to
    your notebook back at the hotel? Maybe just post one on Google+ or Twitter right there
    on the spot? An OTG cable might help out – but your tablet probably doesn’t have that
    much free space to hold those pictures either. Drat.
    We can do this all day; coming up with realistic, daily needs for storage and finding
    half-assed solutions to them.
    Everything we’ve discussed above – and more – the RAVPower WiFi Disk (WiDisk from now on)
    solves for you today for $50.
    Note: this review was done using the device with Android-based phones and tablets.
    iOS or other devices? YMMV.

    The Hardware

    The WiDrive comes to you in a 4.65″ x 3.11″ x .55″ white little device featuring clean,
    rounded corners and a pleasing aesthetic design. While a glossy finish, the white color
    easily hides the fingerprints and you’ll immediately appreciate how light the unit is (at just over 4 ounces).

    On the left side of the unit, you’ll find a nice quality power button and a microUSB port.

    The top sports 4 lights showing you power, R/W access, Wifi connectivity and internet connection.

    The front of the unit has an full-sized SD card slot (time to dig up an adapter), a deep set
    RESET button and a full-sized female USB plug.

    On the inside, you’ll have a 3000 mAh lithium battery (non-removable).

    The device comes with a standard 1.5′ USB to microUSB cable (the same type your phone probably uses).

    The packaging is clean and attracting – and it comes with a small folded quick start guide
    that will take you through pretty much everything (not that most power users will need it).

    Construction is plastic, but the unit feels VERY well put together. You won’t feel the urge to gingerly use it.
    Since there is no mechanical parts inside, you can abuse this thing a little without worry (perfect for
    my wife who is very hard on these sorts of devices). The ports are tight and responsive.

    IMG_20130501_172559-225x300.jpg

    Getting Started

    This device’s primary storage medium is a standard sized SD card. These are typically found in
    your digital cameras still and it is likely you have like 10 of them gathering dust in a drawer somewhere.
    I took my OTG 32GB microSD card and put it into an adapter to make it a full sized SD card.
    Some of you are already groaning, I can hear it. You want a HARD DRIVE wireless storage solution;
    after all you need LOTS more storage – not just a LITTLE more storage.

    You can get a decent 64GB SD card at the time of writing for about $45 if you look around.
    These are light, small and easy to change out. You could easily carry terabytes of these things with
    you if you needed to at a fraction of the space a hard drive would take up. But if that STILL isn’t
    good enough – I have a surprise for you later, stay with me.

    I hit the switch and the unit powers up. The WiDrive came pre-charged (at least some) so it was
    immediately ready for use.

    Connecting

    The WiDrive powers up as a wireless access point. That means when you go to your device’s WiFi
    settings, the unit will appear as a connectable location. You’ll use eight 1′s for the password and
    poof – you’re connected. At this point, the WiDrive is your access point.

    The manual tells you to open a browser up to http://10.10.10.254 (easy to remember).
    You’re greeted with a simple, but useful web-based interface. From here you can run the WIZARD
    which will let you configure the device to connect to an internet-connected WiFi Hot Spot (like your
    home router). Once your WiDrive can connect to your internet access point, it will act as an internet
    pass-through so you can connect to the drive and STILL use the internet! That’s huge.

    The WiDrive reboots and you’re ready to connect again to it. There are tons of things to
    configure – rename the SSID, change the passwords – all that good stuff. It works great, even on a
    basic phone web browser.

    I powered the unit off and powered it back up. From power button push to WiFi availability, it takes
    about 30 seconds. That’s a little long, but it’s worth it.

    Screenshot_2013-05-01-17-28-57-168x300.png

    The Power of Two

    While SD card is the preferred medium of storage, the WiDrive doesn’t stop here. The USB plug will
    happily accommodate a second USB device; flash drive, thumb drive, card reader and even a real 2.5″
    hard drive! That’s right, thanks to the battery in this sucker being powerful enough – it will power
    your self-powered external USB drive without another source of power. It doesn’t sound like much,
    but this is simply an incredibly useful feature for a lot of us. We HAVE these big ass drives
    laying around – but to use them on a mobile device is cumbersome to impossible. So they gather
    dust or we use them to cart stuff between our PCs.

    You can use BOTH devices at the same time; that is, the SD card and USB port are active at
    the same time – all with no external power – and ALL connected wirelessly. It is amazing to behold.
    With both SD and USB port device online, you can do file operations between the two devices without
    copying it locally first. More on this later.

    Access Layer 1: The Web

    Once your device connects to the WiDrive, you bring up the web interface for the simplest access to
    the files stored on the SD card. At this point, you use the functional web-based file explorer app.
    If you need to do any heavy lifting? This will make you miserable. But, if you need quick access to a file – it works.

    You can download, etc. from there – but this isn’t an interface for “streaming” anything.
    Basic file management. You can even upload files this way.

    The best part of this layer is that ANY wireless/network device can use the WiDrive.
    No special apps. Phones, tablets, netbooks, notebooks – even the PCs on your home network can access it. Sweet.

    I was even able to access the WiDrive on my Nintendo 3DS and Wii U via the web browser!

    Screenshot_2013-05-01-17-31-29-300x168.png

    Access Layer 2: The App

    If you have an Android or iOS device, you can get a dedicated app from Google Play (or App Store on iOS).
    Finding it can be a bit tricky – just search for “MobileFun” from Power7 Technology.

    Once installed, open it up and it will auto-find your WiDrive. Nice. You’re then presented with your
    storage device as a basic native file manager. You can move files between the storage unit and your
    local storage quickly and easily.

    Touching any media file you have a player for will launch the player and STREAM the file to the player.
    It’s just what you would hope it would be; a gateway from your stored content to your favorite player
    of choice. I used a variety of players, including my favorites like MX Player Pro and VLC.
    This is your means to stream all your media content. Non-streamable content will download locally and
    attempt to open with whatever it can. Obviously not the choice for editing documents on the drive,
    but wait – there is another solution coming.

    This file manager gives you access to both SD card and USB port device – allowing you to easily copy
    or move files between SD card and USB device. That’s right – you can take the full SD card out of your
    camera and transfer the files to a fat external hard drive plugged into the USB port. Wipe. Wash, rinse,
    repeat. Dump your wife’s camera SD card. Grab your kid’s phone and plug IT in and dump the pictures.
    Use your cell phone to upload these to Google+ while never once being connected to a power source or
    playing OTG cable swap games. Insane.

    Access Layer 3: Samba

    Look, this is all fine and well. You aren’t hampered by some goofy app that won’t stream MKVs or WMA
    files; the native app works fantastic with whatever you’re rocking for media playback. But what about
    REAL file access? Like REAL file sharing? Samba technology allows you to access network shares with
    your mobile device. MOST wireless drives do NOT support Samba – which is why you’re trapped in their
    crappy app.

    Samba allows you to use any Samba-compatible application to access the files as if the folder was on
    your device. For power users like me? This is REQUIRED.

    Thanks to Samba, you can use almost any file manager on Android. Most good music and video players
    support Samba streaming. This means the sky is the limit.

    If you have a compatible device, you can use CIFS to mount the WiDrive to the local file system – making
    it just as good as OTG.

    Access Layer 4: USB Cable

    Thanks to the industry standard microUSB plug, you can simply plug this device directly into a PC or other
    USB compatible device and it acts like a card reader. The caveat here is that the WiDrive cannot be both
    a WiFi drive and a USB “card reader” at the same time. In fact, it won’t auto switch either – so you must
    tap the power button ONCE to toggle modes once you’ve plugged in. Simple, but this might throw you if
    you don’t try it yourself; especially since it isn’t in the manual. You can get around this by POWERING UP
    the WiDrive while plugged into the USB port of a device. Either way, you cannot access the USB port on
    the WiDrive while plugged into the PC; just the SD card. Shouldn’t be a problem – just unplug the USB drive
    from the WiDrive and plug it into the PC.

    Obviously this is the fastest mode of connectivity.

    Direct Connect vs Network Connect

    Once your WiDrive is connected to your router, you can access it through your network (via the device
    name “wifidrive” – i.e. http://wifidrive). This methodology will introduce a lot of latency into
    accessing your files. Videos may skip and stutter. You may find decreased transfer speeds.

    If you want the MOST speed possible (which ties up your mobile device’s wifi so you cannot get out to
    the internet) – you should connect directly to the WiDrive’s own access point. I was able to stream full
    HD MKV files silky smooth from the WiDrive to my Nexus 10 tablet via MX Player Pro. If you re in the wild,
    this will be how you connect anyway.

    Sharing

    Up to five devices can hop on the WiDrive’s access point and share your files from either the SD card or
    USB port device. They can also share your internet connection via the device.

    Oh Yeah – It’s a Charger Too

    With all this fun, we almost forgot this little guy has a pretty formidable battery in it. When you aren’t
    using it to hit your hard drive or SD card? Use the WiDrive to charge your favorite USB device.
    With 3000 mAh of juice, you can top off pretty much any modern day smartphone with extended battery
    from zero to hero. Of course, it will also work just to keep you level during most normal use.

    I’ve yet to put the device through an exhaustive er, battery of tests regarding power consumption and
    up time. Most reviews I’ve read said it will run comfortably for a good 5 hours with SD card only operations.
    That’s a pretty long flight.

    You can bet your bottom dollar that if you plug in a mechanical drive like a 2.5″ external drive that it’s
    going to suck the battery down pretty quick.

    What’s Wrong With It

    Honestly? So far? Nothing. I’ve mentioned a couple of minor issues and there are a few issues that
    will vet over time. How long will it REALLY last in real world conditions? When I drop it the first time,
    will it shatter or hold up? Will it lock up when it gets warm with a long wifi use?

    We won’t know these answers for awhile.

    The major issue that people will concern themselves with is the fact this is SD and not HDD (even though
    it CAN be, sorta). If your device has 32GB on board, adding another wireless 32GB “drive” doesn’t seem
    “huge”; certainly not adding 1.5TB of wireless storage. I can’t argue with that. I was actually HESITANT at first too.

    What I will say is that SD offers insane advantages that you can’t deny;

    • Super low power consumption vs hard drive
    • Removable for almost endless storage
    • Cheap media; even cheaper than microSD
    • Available up to 128GB at time of writing (these can be had for under $100)
    • More durable and rugged
    • Much lighter than hard drives

    Let’s keep this in perspective, too. If you throw in a 64GB card, you’re talking about:

    • Over 10,000 songs in MP3 format (average 4 minute songs at 192kbps)
    • Over 5000 12MP photos (based on light JPG compression)
    • 6.5 full seasons of a prime time one-hour TV show (standard definition, 350MB files)
    • 42 full length movies can be stored (average 1.5GB per file)
    • For you emulator lovers, that’s 3.5 copies of a full MAME rom set (no CHDs)

    She’s fat enough for you, old man … no matter what the cargo.

    Summary

    This WiDrive has something for EVERYONE – and at a price anyone can afford; wireless access,
    SD<->USB file operations, charger .. all in an attractive, durable package that you won’t be
    embarrassed to show to your friends and family. Imagine this at your next party or event; having
    all your friends hop on and drop off their pictures in one shared location (not everyone uses Google+ Events yet).
    If you’re going on vacation, this is your go to device.
     
  2. TerenceL

    TerenceL Member

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