Hot on the heels of Seagate launching its GoFlex Satellite wireless external storage device for iOS devices, Kingston has trotted out its own flash-based external drive--the Wi-Drive--which offers very similar features.
With mobile devices like the iPad offering limited memory (and no expansion slot), the idea behind these accessories is that you'd store large video files, as well as other content (including photos, documents, and music) on the drive and then wirelessly access that content via a direct Wi-Fi connection (you don't need an actual Internet Wi-Fi connection to stream content; you stream directly to and from the drive to your mobile device). Currently, up to three users can access the drive at the same time, so you could, for instance, have three kids watching three different movies on different devices in your car.
Seagate's $199.99 GoFlex Satellite is a hard-drive-based system with 500GB of storage. The smaller, flash-based Kingston's Wi-Drive comes in 16GB and 32GB configurations for $129.99 and $174.99, respectively.
We got a demo of the Kingston Wi-Drive in action and it performs much like the Seagate. You have to run a free downloadable app to access content on the drive, and from there you can access any video, audio, or image files that your iOS device would support (H.264 video, MPEG-4, Motion-JPEG, AAC, MP3, Audible, Apple Lossless, A IFF, WAV, Microsoft Office, iWork, PDF, and JPG, BMP, and PNG images).
Alas, one of the limitations of both the GoFlex Satellite and the Kingston Wi-Drive is that the video codec support is currently fairly limited. Kingston reps told us they hope that in the future, their drive will be compatible with other video-streaming apps that do offer support for more video file formats.
Like Seagate's GoFlex Satellite, the Wi-Drive will gain support for Android mobile devices--an app is in the works--though the reps couldn't tell us exactly when that app would go live ("within two months," they said).
We're not sure what the street price will be for the Kingston Wi-Drive, but we told company reps that the price delta between it and the Seagate drive needed to be greater. While the Kingston Wi-Drive is at least half the size and weight of the Seagate GoFlex Satellite, the Seagate drive is still fairly compact and having 500GB of storage vs. 32GB (for nearly the same price) seems more appealing despite the advantages of flash-based storage. It's also worth noting that both drives offer similar battery life: Seagate's does 5 hours of continuous streaming video while Kingston's does 4.
Kingston says the Wi-Drive will be available in late June.