Mobile technology keeps getting better – and for sharing too, writes Hugh John
Shorter and narrower than a regular smartphone but significantly thicker, this device is not going to rival the svelte Wi-Drive in the looks department but the squat plastic case in muted silver and black livery houses some impressive Wi-Fi technology that creates a local wireless hotspot which can be accessed by Android Apple and Windows devices. And Android and iOS users get their own app to make it even easier.
MobileLite apps can be downloaded free from Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store. Both work very well and present imported content as music, video. photos or general data files. But you don't even need an app. Access with a windows 8 tablet was simple, and in our test a movies was being streamed to the windows tablet within a minute or so.
MobileLite has no memory of its own but accepts most sources
Unlike the Wi-Drive (see “Now your mobile memory sticks are going wireless”), whose flash memory has a fixed storage capacity, this unit accepts SD cards in a variety of formats, SD, SDHC, SDXC and Micro SD, courtesy of the supplied SD/Micro SD adapter. It can also, via a full size USB port, accommodate regular USB storage devices such as finger drives and portable hard drives including the new breed of USB3 multi-terabyte brutes. I must admit to a feeling of trepidation when I plugged in one of these, wondering if the MobileLite had enough battery power. I needn’t have bothered. The contents of the drive showed up almost immediately in the app’s window and the film I clicked on started up with no problem. Better yet, it’s possible to stream three different films/images/data files to three separate devices; an obvious attraction for parents travelling with restless children or teachers taking a school group on a field trip.
There are two other smart features worth mentioning. Unlike many of its predecessors, the MobileLite is equipped with internet pass-thru. Where previous devices would hog the Wi-Fi signal between sender and receiver, this unit uses bridging technology to allow you to access the MobileLite while still being able to surf the Web. And, neat touch this, the on-board battery doubles as a battery charger for any mobile device with a micro USB socket. Using the supplied USB to Micro USB cable it’s simple enough to transfer juice. A word of caution here; the MobileLite’s rated capacity is 1,800 mAh (milliamps per hour) enough to give a hefty boost to, say, a run down iPhone 5 (1,440mAh) but when you get into the realm of Android smartphones (Galaxy S4 2,600mAh) or iPad 4 (11,500mAh) you’re far better off using a heavy duty power bank such as Mophie or Anker. Still, it’s the sort of feature that could be very useful when there’s no power socket in reach.
A marker for future wifi development
So, SD cardreader, wireless media streamer across three discrete channels and emergency back-up battery. No bad at all for just over £30. And with the cost of 32 Gb SD cards now around £15 you’ve got an incredibly flexible data device for less than £50. That’s about the same as the entry level 32Gb Wi-Drive. There are a few minor niggles which Kingston could perhaps address in future models – battery life (the five hours claimed is perhaps a shade optimistic) and the lack of any sort of case to protect the device from life’s granular accretions, grit, pocket lint, the bane of hi-tech gadgets with unprotected ports.
With the MobileLite, Kingston has laid down a marker for future wifi development. New products will need to be reliable, multi-functional and reasonably priced to have any chance of success in an increasingly competitive marketplace. The introduction of transferable SD cards and plug and play USB drives heralds a more flexible approach to data storage.
Don’t be fooled by the squat, unexciting exterior. This is an exceptionally well designed and engineered device that comes highly recommended.
Ratings (out of 5)
Fitness for purpose 5
Ease of use 5
Value for money 5
The Kingston MobileLite is a wifi-enabled storage device for sharing data which it can stream to up to three devices simultaneously. Has no internal storage of its own but can handle a wide range of storage options from memory cards and sticks to USB3 mobile hard discs. Available online, including Amazon, for around £32
Cost of standard 32 Gb SD card, around £15