WD My Passport Wireless review: A versatile mobile drive for photographers

That said, the app is much better than when I first used it on the My Cloud server. For example, content stored on the drive is now automatically organized into three categories: Photos, Music, and Videos. There's also a search function, which is very helpful.

After the app starts, it will display everything stored on the My Passport Wireless. You then can browse each folder one by one. Interestingly, however, you can't use the app to browse for the content on an SD card. As a result, you'll first need to copy or move the contents of the card onto the My Passport Wireless before you can view the photos. That's both inconvenient and counter-intuitive since most of the time I want to quickly preview the photos before backing them up.

What's more, viewing a connected mobile device's library also is convoluted. When you want to back up content from your tablet to the My Passport Wireless, you first need to click on an unnamed and rather obscure button in the top right corner of the app's interface. Only then can you select the Upload command on a drop-down menu. Then, a new window will open, bringing up even more steps to complete before you can actually back anything up. Again, this is quite inconvenient. Nonetheless, the backups worked well and quite fast in my testing, especially for photos.

wdmypassportwireless-5.jpg
The My Passport Wireless' power light changes its color to indicate the battery level. Dong Ngo/CNET

Limited streaming file formats

Similar to the Seagate Wireless Plus, the My Passport Wireless' mobile app only lets you stream file types that are natively supported by the mobile device itself. For other file types, such as the open-source Matroska multimedia container (MKV), or XviD, you'll need to use a third-party mobile apps.

It's a worse story for documents, unfortunately, as the WD My Cloud app doesn't have built-in support for any documents types at all. If you don't have third-party apps that can open Word, Excel or PDF files, you're out of luck.

Internet sharing and common NAS functions supported

The My Passport Wireless can connect to another Wi-Fi network and relay its Internet connection to any clients on its own. In my trial, it connected to any Wi-Fi networks, including those that required a password.

On top of that, it also can connect as a client to a Wi-Fi network. In that case, it functions as a regular NAS server that supports standard file sharing and DLNA steaming protocols. From a connected computer, such as a laptop, you can access its files via Finder (on a Mac) or Windows Explorer (on a Windows computer). And strangely, in this scenario only, you can access files on an inserted SD card directly.

Performance

As a portable drive, the My Passport Wireless did very well in my testing. Via USB 3.0, it registered sustained speeds of 11oMBps for writing and 112MBps for reading, making it one of the fastest on the market. The drive also works with its USB 2.0 port, averaging around 33MBps.

CNET Labs' USB 3.0 external drive performance

WD My Passport Wireless
109.9
112.39
Samsung Wireless
108.7
112.3
Seagate Slim
110.4
111.49
Seagate Wireless Plus
109.5
109.75
WD My Passport Slim
107.7
107.89
Corsair Voyager Air
104.6
107.45
LaCie Fuel
104.7
106.89

Legend:

Write
Read

Note:

Measured in megabytes per second

As a mobile wireless drive, the My Passport Wireless also did very well. From a mobile device, HD content loads relatively fast and the streaming was generally smooth in my testing. Photos, however, took quite a while to load and I don't like that the mobile app must download an entire photo before displaying it. There's no caching for images, either, meaning photos that you've already viewed take as long to load again as they did the first time.

As a mobile NAS server, the My Passport Wireless worked quite well with photos and documents. When I played back an HD movie from a laptop, the connection was too slow for the video to play back smoothly. This is likely because the device's bandwidth is not fast enough to support screens larger than those of mobile devices.

The My Passport lasted about 5 and half hours in my testing on a full charge. This wasn't the worst battery life, but not the best I've seen either. ( The Samsung Wireless , for example, lasted close to 7 hours.) I did notice that the internal drive on the inside ran almost constantly, even when there was no other activity (possibly the reason why battery life wasn't better). The LaCie Fuel and the Samsung Wireless, for example, come with a variety of ways to conserve the energy, a feature that the My Passport Wireless lacks.

On the other hand, the My Passport Wireless' Wi-Fi range was very impressive with an effective range of around 100 feet, the longest for a device of this type. For the best HD streaming, however, you want to be no more than 50 feet away.

Conclusion

In the world of wireless mobile drives, the WD My Passport Wireless is rather late to the game, but it's worth the wait. The addition of the SD card slot makes it as versatile as the SanDisk Media Drive , yet at the same time still has a lot of storage space.

The WD My Passport Wireless is far from perfect, however, mostly thanks to its comparatively short battery life, and the week mobile app. Hopefully, these will improve via future firmware and app updates. But if you can't wait, even in its current state it's still one of the best mobile wireless storage drives on the market.

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