Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Kingston 16GB Wi-Drive Review by Kirk Spencer

Are you running out of storage on your smart device wishing you had more? Do those videos just take up too much space? Maybe your device doesn't have a memory card expansion slot (can you say iPad?)? Wish there was a solution available? Some of you out there may have been praying for something like this, and here it is! Today we're reviewing a device from Kingston, Wi-Drive 16GB, which addresses these issues. The drive acts as a portable media server that can double as additional file storage.

Capacities:2 16GB,
Dimensions: 121.5mm x 61.8mm x 9.8mm
Wireless Network Interface: Wi-Fi 802.11g/n with wireless security
Rechargeable Battery
Cable: MiniUSB to USB cable included
User can upload files and content from their PC/Mac to the Wi-Drive using the
USB cable
Operating Temperature: 32°F to 122°F (0°C to 50°C)
Storage Temperature: 14°F to 158°F (-10°C to 70°C)
Convenient: pocket-sized for easy transportability
Simple: just plug into a USB port
Guaranteed: one-year warranty
App: FREE, downloadable at Apple's app store
Compatible with iPad, iPhone 3/3GS/4, iPod touch (3G is limited to
Configurable APN (access point name) and Key functions to connect to
Wireless Access Point (Internet Connection)
User selectable Wi-Fi priority list when there are multiple APN/Key
Supported File Formats:
Audio: AAC, MP3, WAV
Video: m4v, mp4, mov, Motion JPEG (M-JPEG), AVI
Image: jpg, bmp, tiff
Document: pdf, doc, docx, ppt, pptx, txt, rtf, xls

The Wi-Drive measures in at a slim 9.8mm thick making it a very pocketable device. With its fancy rounded corners and weighing in at a mere 3 ounces this wi-drive will slide into your pocket and you'll soon forget that it's there. The housing for the device is a shiny black plastic which is what makes it so light.

The Wi-Drive comes with a built in configurable wireless network. You could be in the middle of nowhere and you'd be able to access your files from your phone/tablet. I shared files with a co-worker all wirelessly over the wi-fi network it establishes. Not having to rely on an established wi-fi network for file transfer is definitely not a feature to overlook. Sitting at the airport and your significant other wants to watch a video you put on the drive? No worries. Kinston's Wi-Drive
has you covered. Going camping where you know you won't have a connection to the outside world for any content consumption? Load up the Wi-Drive with videos and music and your sleepless nights worrying about being eaten by bears can melt away as you fall asleep watching your favorite show.

Kingston provides a free app on Apple's App Store, Android's Market and Amazon's App Store for Android. The first thing you'll need to do after installing the app is connect to the wi-fi network. The SSID should be Wi-Drive. Launch the Wi-Drive app and you should see your device in the list and you can click on it to browse and consume its contents.

The first thing I noticed was that now that my phone was connected to this wi-fi network I no longer had access to the internet. No worries there, Kingston thought of everything. The Wi-Drive can be configured to act as a bridge sharing internet with any device that connects to it.

The Wi-Drive comes packaged in a small box. Inside you'll find the drive packaged with the getting started manual and a mini USB cord and wall adapter. It felt like I was unboxing a cell phone and I even had someone ask me what kind of cell phone it was.

USB Speeds
Our average read speed was 16.6 MB/second. So it's nothing to write home about as far as speed performance, but then again it's not being marketed as some ultra fast hyper drive either. It's a portable media server. As expected, the write speeds were somewhat slower than the read speeds coming in at 13.8 MB/second.

Signal Strength
The Wi-Drive is rated for up to a 30 foot range. In our tests we were able to go about 35 feet before the signal was dropped. I'd also like to point out that it was 35 feet with a couple walls in the way. Is the signal strength as good as what you would get in something like an 802.11n
router? No, but odds are you don't want to be that exposed anyway.

Battery Life
The non removable rechargeable battery is rated for four hours. At a full charge we were able to squeeze 2.5 hours out of it before the LED light turned orange. The light turns orange letting you know that it is getting low on power. Eventually it will turn red to let you know that it's about to die and you need to plug it in. Our device didn't die for another two hours giving us about 4.5 of usage. Keep in mind that your mileage may vary depending on the number of devices connected and how active the device is reading and writing during the time that it is on.

Personal Experience
I wasn't completely sold on the idea of a portable media server until I tried the Wi-Drive by Kingston. As a lover of Android I want to take a moment to point out a couple of things I noticed. Devices running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich will not have the best user experience. The app
from the Android market has trouble establishing a connection to the Wi-Drive. Kingston is aware of this and they are hard at work to provide a solution. They are also working on a media player that will support a large number of content types for your viewing pleasure. The android app worked as expected on all of the Gingerbread phones I tested it with.

You can pick up the 16 GB version from Amazon for $49.99 and the 32 GB version is currently going for $89.99. It certainly is not the best GB/dollar data storage out there, but I don't think you'll find anything else as thin, portable and running its own wi-fi for devices to connect to for this price. I was pleased with the experience I had with Kingston's 16 GB Wi-Drive and at the current $49.99 price it's really hard to pass this one up. For all that we're giving the Wi-Drive our Highly Recommended award.

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Elite Screens ezFrame 100 Inch Fixed Frame Screen Review

More and more people are bringing the movie theater to their home. Front projectors have come down in price significantly, and now one can enjoy a 100" or more picture in their home. When I got my first front projector several years ago, at first I used a large white sheet. But to get the best picture, you need a screen. Up for review today is the 100" 4:3 Elite Screens ezFrame R100V.
There is a lot to be said of the elegant look that you get from a fixed mount frame. And a standard CineWhite or CineGrey material does not work with every application. That is why today we are reviewing the ezFrame with Wraith Veil screen material. It's features and specs include:
  • Award winning Home Theater Screen with full tension uniformity
  • Models available with CineWhite 1.1 Gain, CineGrey 1.0 gain, Wraith Veil (rear) 2.2 gain, and AcousticPro1080 (sound transparent) 1.0 Gain material
  • Anodized black aluminum frame with black velour surfacing to enhance the appearance with the stylish masked border that absorbs projector light overshoot
  • Easy to assemble and install in minutes
  • Sliding wall mounts ensure the installation is properly centered
  • Available in 4:3, 16:9 and 16:10 aspect ratios
  • Diagonal sizes ranging from 84" - 226"
  • Custom sizes are available
  • 2-year manufacturer warranty
The Elite Screens ezFrame R100V came well packaged. Opening up the packaging showed a high quality product in both fit and finish. The included instructions were also easy to follow. I was able to put it together by myself in less than an hour, taking my time.
The frame itself comes in 6 pieces, and held together with 6 joints. Tension rods slide into the sleeves on the edges of the screen. The rods then fit into a groove in the frame and are held in place with plastic clips. To make it even easier, there are red marks on the frame to know where the clips should go. It was quite ingenious actually. The product was a good looking screen that was well tensioned.

The Wraith Veil screen material is a clearish material that is designed for rear projection. The image is projected from behind the screen. It is quite different from the traditional white or grey screen, but then again, those screens don't work in all installs. The Wraith Veil material does fill a need.

The Wraith Veil material works well in bright lit rooms. The 2.2 gain did help to brighten things up. It's surface coating allows the screen to make the colors look more brilliant. Black levels are also improved. You may have seen this material used at your local movie theater hallway to show previews.
Watching on the screen also did not disappoint. Images were quite brilliant and bright. Color uniformity was also excellent. The 1080p resolution of my blu-ray came through beautifully with all of it's visual glory. Black levels and shadow details also came through well. The Elite Screens ezFrame with Wraith Veil screen proved to be a necessary tool to provide the eye candy I was expecting.

With all said and done, there is no better way to get the best image possible than using a dedicated screen. And a fixed mount screen just gives a better look. With the velvet finish on the ezFrame, you get on elegant one. It's quality was great, and the assembly was simple. Once completed, the built product looked stunning! Based on its design, features, and quality, the Elite Screens ezFrame R100V has earned our Editor's Choice award. While the Wraith Veil screen material included in the review is not for everyone, as it is for rear projection, the ezFrame has multiple fabric options to work with your particular install needs. At an MSRP of $579.00, it is also a good value. They also have all the formats: 4:3, 16:9, as well as 16:10. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at http://www.elitescreens.com/.

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