Date: June 27, 2014
Author(s): Rob Williams
There are mobile media readers, and then there’s Kingston’s MobileLite Wireless G2. When not serving files over Wi-Fi, it can accept a wired LAN connection to become a travel router, and it can also use its huge battery to help charge your mobile phone while you’re on-the-go. Who doesn’t love a device that can act as a jack-of-all-trades?
When I met with Kingston at CES in 2011, the company showed me a product prototype that went on to “wow” me – despite it being rather simple in design. At the time, the product was codenamed MobiSX, but it became Wi-Drive for launch. We reviewed it later that year.
The reason Wi-Drive wowed me is because Kingston was offering iOS users a way to expand their storage. Let’s face it: Even phones with 32GB of storage space can be a bit limiting for the media-hungry user, so the ability to expand that storage outside of the device – without the cloud – was huge to me. It was clear that such devices wouldn’t be iOS-exclusive for long, or much less Kingston-exclusive.
Fast-forward to early 2013, when Kingston released the MobileLite Wireless, a device similar to Wi-Drive in that it gives mobile users access to data from an external device, without the need of a cord. That first-generation model was very well-received overall, and while the second-generation model looks similar on paper at quick glance, it proves itself to be a fantastic improvement.
In case the purpose of MobileLite is still not entirely clear, it’s best considered a mobile storage router. With it, you can plug memory cards or USB flash drives in, and then log into the MobileLite through a mobile device and access the storage on that connected media. If you happen to have the device with you but don’t need it for its usual purposes, you can instead use it to feed whatever battery-life it has left into one of your other mobile devices, like a phone or tablet.
The G2 offers one major feature the G1 doesn’t: It can act as a travel router. If you’re at a hotel, for example, you can plug the available Ethernet cable into the device, at which point it will begin serving Internet access to anyone connecting to it. This is one of those features that might not be used to often, but believe me, when you do need it, you’ll appreciate that it’s there.
As the top shot shows, the MobileLite Wireless G2 includes a microSD card adapter; in all, the device supports SD and microSD, and the “HC” and “XC” variants of each. It also includes a microUSB to USB cable, which allows you to charge the device through a computer. If you happen to have an AC adapter that allows you to plug a USB cable in (common for phones), you can use that as well.
At the front of the MLWG2 are three status LEDs (charging, Wi-Fi, power-on), the power button, the microUSB port, and its branding (which is actually quite attractive). Kingston’s Redhead logo is found front and center on the top (albeit in a more suitable white color).
On the other side of the device is the Ethernet port, allowing you to use the device as a travel router. That feature helps make this MobileLite far more than just a reader, and it’s one feature I’m very glad Kingston decided to implement.
At one of the ends is where the USB and memory storage plugs in. Being that the SD card I plugged in is pure black, it’s nearly impossible to see in this shot, but the same can’t be said about Kingston’s bright DataTraveler Mini 3.0 drive.
Let’s get to testing the device out, shall we?
To take full advantage of the MobileLite Wireless G2, you’ll want to download the official app either through Apple’s App Store or Google’s Play Store – searching for the simple term of “Kingston” should bring it up as the first result (it did for me on multiple Android devices).
After installing the app, connecting to the MobileLite Wireless G2 is as simple as joining a Wi-Fi network. Yes – that means that by connecting to Kingston’s device, you lose Internet access, but that’s only until you log into the MLWG2 and configure Internet access through there. Kingston has definitely got us covered.
The MLWG2 has no wireless security by default, something that you’ll likely want to remedy as soon as you log in through the mobile app. Once you do that, and a password is set, the device will secure itself using WPA2 PSK security.
After taking care of business and opening the MobileLite app, you’ll be able to select the device in the list and start rummaging through files, or tackle some settings. I highly recommend doing the latter first, so that you can take care of the open wireless connection right away.
The settings you’re able to adjust include changing the SSID name, changing the auto-shutdown timer, configuring wireless (including the channel), configuring Internet access if needed, and choosing whether or not a 3G dongle is plugged into the USB port. This feature would be especially useful if you wanted to use the device as a travel router without the wired connection.
Overall, the MobileLite app isn’t what I’d call particularly feature-rich or attractive, but it definitely gets the job done, and it’s clean (a big plus). The photo-viewer and music player both work similarly to other such solutions I’ve used in the past. With regards to the photo-viewer, I’d recommend not using it for really large images, in terms of resolution and / or filesize. They’ll look fine once loaded, until you zoom in, which is when some detail will be noticeably lost.
When music is playing, you can hit the newly created icon in the top-right corner to control it, which includes the ability to loop or shuffle.
If you configure the MLWG2 to have Internet access, accessing the network through the mobile device itself (not the app) will feel the same as if you connected to that network directly. This means you can access local network shares without the interesting configuration getting in the way.
However, say that you’re not wanting to use Kingston’s app, or it’s not properly loading a file. If you disable the ability for the device to access the Internet, then scanning for network shares through an app like ES File Explorer will reveal the device itself as an available share. Why this is useful: You can enter that share and access your files just as you would through normal phone storage, which means you can open files that Kingston’s app takes over in your own apps.
I mentioned above that some images might not look perfect through Kingston’s app, so I used this solution to look at the images through QuickPic instead. In a similar vein, you may wish you listen to music through your own app. Kingston’s app itself offers very good functionality and media support, but as a power user, I definitely like being able to use this technique to access the data through my preferred apps.
Kingston’s MobileLite Wireless G2 is a product I didn’t even realize existed until I received a care package of sorts from the company earlier this week, but this is one product I’m glad decided to show up unannounced – it’s turned out to be a product that I definitely want.
I’ve always liked mobile card readers, and I’ve always liked travel routers. To have the two combined means that this is a product right up my alley – but then it gets better. It also has the ability to use its excess battery charge to keep my smartphone alive longer, should I not be able to plug it into a computer or power socket right then and there.
As I’m sure you can tell, I am definitely stoked about this device, and look forward to using it regularly. If there’s a definite downside, it’s that current pricing hovers at around $60, which is a huge bump from the current $30 pricetag of the original model. The original model has less than half of the battery-life, however, and can’t act as a travel router. Plus, it has a two-year warranty rather than just a one-year. The G2 costs more, but you definitely get more.
Kingston MobileLite Wireless G2 Media Reader
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