Monday, 8 July 2013

Review: MobileLite Wireless

When Kingston sent me their press release for this new gadget, I requested a review unit. One of the frustrations I have with tablets, as opposed to laptops or netbooks, is their lack of ports. My partner's iPad and my Nexus 7 rely on wi-fi for very nearly everything except the USB port which can be used for both charging and connectivity. That's fine if what you want is in the cloud and you have access to an open wifi connection, but that is not always the case.

For instance, at my old house, we cut off the cable some time ago as we were not there to use it. But talking about getting rid of furniture with a neighbour I learned he was interested in antiques. My partner has some - and we have pictures. But I wasn't carrying my camera at the time. And even if I could have used my tablet, those particular pictures weren't on the web anywhere. And anyway, the tiny screen on a camera is not really adequate for deciding if you want an antique desk. In the end I printed some postcard sized pictures - and he lost interest in the mean time.


This neat device is about 5"x 2" and less than half an inch deep (OK if you insist - 124.8mm x 59.9mm x 16.65mm) and very light (98g) It comes with a short USB cable and also has a slot for SD cards - as well as adapters. They also suggest that it will be useful as a backup for a cell phone battery. But I suspect that means if you are travelling you need to be very organized to have all the right connectors with you. Just out of curiosity I plugged it into the tablet when that needed charging and it did provide about half a charge for that. It is also very straightforward to use. It comes with the usual get started sheet, but perhaps more useful are the range of YouTube how to videos



I no longer have small children to take on road trips in the back of a minivan so that's one suggested application I won't be needing. But there are occasions - and I am sure you have them too when you are using a tablet - when you are not near an open wifi connection to the 'net, but you wish you had a portable wireless network between your devices. I got the apps for both the iPad and Google Nexus from their respective sources (App Store, Google Play) and installation was a breeze. 

The device is now available in Canada, and I have been planning a trip where I intend to leave behind my MacBook Pro - just because it is so heavy. The idea is that I will use the MobileLite to transfer pictures from my camera's SDHC card to the web. I have been testing that and can report that so far I have been successful uploading pictures to flickr that way. But only when using the iPad. There is an issue with the Google Nexus 7 - which runs Android. And it is not confined using this wifi device (which, by the way does remain connected to the internet and your mobile devices making life easier than I expected). So far I can see pictures on the Nexus but I can't actually do anything with them. The tablet does not load them into its own gallery, which means they cannot be uploaded elsewhere. On the iPad there is a menu which includes both "camera roll" and some social media sites (but not flickr). So using the camera roll in the iPad means I can upload - using the web browser. I haven't managed that yet with the Nexus - but I have asked Kingston to look into that.

The response I got was that there are many varieties of Android out there and they cannot guarantee that the software they provide will work the same way on every device. When my Nexus 7 recently upgraded its operating system I had hoped that might make a difference. It didn't.  

UPDATE  May 28, 2014

I left my MacBook Pro behind on my recent trip to Venice, expecting to be able to use the MobileLite to upload pictures from my camera's SDHC card as reported above using the iPad. The software for both the iPad and Android apps has recently been updated. I can see the pictures from the card on my Nexus tablet. I still cannot do anything with them, like upload to flickr. With the upgraded iPad app I cannot even do that. It simply does not see the card. Useless. 


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