Corsair Voyager Air review: Flawed, but still excellent

If you connect a laptop to the Voyager Air's Wi-Fi signal, the device immediately become available as a network-attached storage (NAS) server that you can browse using a network browser (Windows), map network drives, and copy data from and to it. On a Mac, it automatically appears on the Finder. The Voyager Air shares its entire contents to everybody with full read/write access and there's no way to restrict this.

Limited support for file formats
The Voyager Air's mobile app is very simple. Unlike the case of the Wireless Plus of which the mobile app automatically organizes contents into different category, such as photos, video, documents and so on, when you access the Voyager Air using its app, you can only browse by folder. Basically what you see on Voyager Air when using it as a portable drive, is what you get when using it as a mobile server. While this is not a big deal for videos, it's rather a pain for other type of contents, especially when you store information in many folders and subfolders.

The Voyager Air mobile app doesn't offer a media organizer but just a folder browser.
The Voyager Air mobile app doesn't offer a media organizer but just a folder browser. Dong Ngo/CNET

The second complaint I have is the lack of playback support for digital content. I tried the Corsair Voyager Air with both iOS and Android devices and streaming was only a smooth experience if the file formats are natively supported by the app. And the list of supported formats is very short. Basically, as far as video is concerned, other than content made specifically for the mobile platform, I couldn't streaming anything else using the mobile app, including popular formats for HD videos, such as Matroska and Xvid.

Note that, similar to the case of the Wireless Plus, for formats the app doesn't support natively, the app offers the option to download the file onto the connected device to be played back with a third-party app. While this works well with documents, it's not a viable solution for videos since the downloading process would take a long time for a full movie or a full episode of a TV show due to the large file size of HD video content. On top of that you probably want a device like the Voyager Air because you're running out of storage space on your mobile device in the first place. Hopefully the file format situation will improve via updates.

And, also like the Wireless Plus, apart from playing back content directly from Voyager, and downloading it onto the connected device to play back without it, the mobile app allows for uploading user-generated content from the mobile device back to the Voyager Air. Again, it worked very well with photos in my trial but not so well with video due to the large file size. Uploaded files are saved in the root directory of the Voyager Air.

As a home NAS server
With the addition of the Gigabit Network port, the Voyager Air can also work as a home NAS server. All you have to do is connect it to an existing network with a cable and turn it on. For long-term usage, it's better to plug in to the power outlet with the included adapter.

The Corsair Voyager Air supports both Windows and Mac computers for data sharing. Similar to the computers connected to its Wi-Fi network, computers connected to it using the wired network have full access to its entire storage space with no restriction options available.

The G-Connect and the Voyager Air both come with a network port, but the Voyager Air also comes with a built-in battery.
The G-Connect and the Voyager Air both come with a network port, but the Voyager Air also comes with a built-in battery. Dong Ngo/CNET

The Corsair Voyager Air can work both as a wired NAS server and a mobile media server at the same time. Unfortunately, in this case, devices connected to it via network cable and those connected to its Wi-Fi network belong to two separate networks. This means they can't exchange information; those connected to device's Wi-Fi network can't share the same Internet connection as those on the wired network. This is disappointing because travelers can't use the Voyager Air to share a hotel Internet connection provided via an in-room network port and home users can't use it as the only Wi-Fi access point for wireless client.

Performance
I tested the Voyager Air with all the roles it can play and the device delivered.

When used as a portable drive it scored 105MBps and 107MBps for writing and reading, respectively, among the top three on the charts. It also did well when used with USB 2.0, averaging 28MBps and 32MBps for writing and reading, respectively.

When used as a home NAS server, the Voyager Air was also impressive. Via a Gigabit connection, it scored 20MBps for writing and 50MBps for reading, ranking among fast single-volume dedicated NAS servers and in fact was faster than many.

As a mobile media server, the device also worked very well. I used multiple devices with it and most of the time, the streaming was smooth with an effective range of up to 75 feet. The battery life was also very good with close to 7 hours. In real life this might get longer or shorter depending on how heavy the usage is, and how many devices you use with the device at the same time.

Overall, I was impressed by the Voyager Air's solid performance. It also worked smoothly throughout the testing process and remained relatively cool. It did get a little hot when charging but this is fairly normal for a device of its type.

External hard drive USB 3.0 performance scores (in megabytes per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Read  
Write  
Seagate Wireless Plus
109.75 
109.5 
IoSafe Solo G3
110.98 
109.1 
Corsair Voyager Air
107.45 
104.6 
Seagate Backup Plus
110.1 
90.9 
Lexar JumpDrive Triton
112.19 
90.8 
Toshiba Canvio Desk
103.74 
88.9 
Silicon Power Armor A80
102.7 
87.8 
LaCie Minimus USB 3.0
104.9 
87.7 
Clickfree C6
103.4 
87.7 
LaCie FastKey
115.5 
87.1 
G-Drive Slim
100.3 
86.7 
Hitachi Touro Mobile Pro
103.5 
86.2 
WD My Passport Edge
97.68 
82.6 
Seagate GoFlex Slim
101.9 
82.4 
HP Portable Hard Drive
83.65 
69.4 
LaCie RuggedKey
116.82 
41.7 

External hard drive USB 2.0 performance scores (in megabytes per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Read  
Write  
Seagate GoFlex Slim
37.3 
27.7 
LaCie FastKey
36.6 
28.8 
LaCie Minimus USB 3.0
36.5 
28.7 
LaCie Rugged Key
35.22 
26.6 
Lexar JumpDrive Triton
33.13 
28.8 
Clickfree C6
33.1 
28.7 
Seagate Backup Plus
33 
28.74 
G-Drive Slim
32.74 
25.6 
Toshiba Canvio Desk
32.71 
25.8 
WD My Passport Edge
32.69 
25.1 
Corsair Voyager Air
32.67 
26.5 
Seagate Wireless Plus
31.77 
28.3 
G-Technology G-Connect
31.3 
30.9 

Read and write tests (in megabytes per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Read Test  
Write Test  
Asus TS Mini
86.3 
58.4 
Buffalo CloudStor
78.6 
44 
WD My Book Live
66.2 
42.5 
Verbatim MediaShare
54.4 
28.1 
Corsair Voyager Air
50.4 
19.7 
LaCie Wireless Space
20.6 
17.6 
D-Link DIR-827
15.8 
8.5 
Asus RT-N66U
11 
16.5 
Asus RT-AC66U
9.6 
16.7 
Vizio XWR100
7.5 
4.5 

Conclusion
While not entirely a new concept, the Corsair Voyager Air combines what its competitors individually do well into an almost perfect storage accessory for mobile users. If you own multiple mobile devices, and travel often, or live in a small apartment and want a quick network storage device with media streaming capability, you can't go wrong with the Voyager Air.

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Total Storage Capacity 500 GB
  • Type standard
  • Data Link Protocol Gigabit Ethernet
    IEEE 802.11b
    IEEE 802.11g
    IEEE 802.11n
    SuperSpeed USB 3.0
  • Compatibility Mac
    PC
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