The emphasis on mobility plays a large role when designing products in modern times. This is mostly as a result of the prevalence of smartphones in modern society. Looking back a decade ago, mobile phones didn’t offer much in the line of a mobile office, apart from calling and texting. While users performed most, if not all, of their work on laptops and desktops, we’re fast approaching the crossover point where one day we’ll be performing the same function solely from our smartphones, whether natively, or via some docking station.
Storage, however, still remains a large problem in this space. Whether it’s your photos, videos, or documents, smartphones still aren’t equipped to sufficiently deal with this challenge, and users often deplete their remaining storage within 6 months of receiving their new phones. While cloud storage does offer some relief, it isn’t quite feasible for larger documents accessed regularly over the course of a month. There have been a few wireless storage options available in the past 12 months. Verbatim has also entered the market with the release of the MediaShare Wireless.
Build and Design
The MediaShare Wireless is quite compact, measuring 112x79x14mm (L x W x D), and weighing 250g. That being said, there are other units that a more portable experience, but the difference isn’t drastic, perhaps 20-30g. The unit is made mostly of plastic, a matte black finish on the top, and a slightly glossier, grey finish on the bottom. The left side houses the on/off button with the microUSB port to its right, used for charging and direct smartphone connection. On the front side you’ll find the SD card slot on the left and a USB port on the right, with a reset button in the middle. The LED notification lights are fitted to the top. The notification lights include the power (battery level), read/write, wireless, and internet connectivity indicators, each flashing between blue, green and red depending on the status.
While the unit weighs 127g, it’s mostly made up of the 3,000mAh lithium battery inside the casing. This battery is expected to last up to five hours on a single charge, which is rather conservative. This, however, you may achieve when in standby mode. Using the device as a playback medium, reading and writing files, or simply as a wireless access point, reduces the up time to between one and two hours.
What We Liked
Delivering on the promise of portability is a much for the MediaShare Wireless. Thankfully, it caters for just that with, effectively, four storage connectivity options in the form of the USB port, microUSB port, SD card slot, and even wireless transfer. Getting them all to work concurrently, however, is the real struggle, but more on that below.
In order to use the MediaShare Wireless, users will have to download Verbatim’s MediaShare app from either the Google Play Store, or Apple App Store. While easy to setup and use, it is quite limiting in that videos have to be played via another player on your device, although music is played natively within the app itself. What is useful about the app is its Wi-Fi extender. In order to use the MediaShare Wireless users will have to connect their smartphones to it via Wi-Fi, which effectively kills their internet connection, which is where the extender comes into play. Users, by means of the app, are, then, able to sign into their normal Wi-Fi to use the internet.
What We Disliked
Compared to the WD My Passport Wireless, the Verbatim MediaShare Wireless doesn’t offer the same indicated battery life, and also loses out in terms of its own onboard storage. Effectively, the unit is simply a wireless bridge between numerous storage devices, and smartphones. But, even that it doesn’t perform quite well. The unit struggles to deal with more than a single device at any given time. For example, while you’re easily able to connect two smartphones (I wouldn’t recommend much more), if one user is reading from any storage attached, the second smartphone either causes the first to stagger, or pause playback if streaming a video, or the second smartphone itself isn’t able to read or write to that storage.
The Wi-Fi extender is fairly useful in providing internet through the unit’s own Wi-Fi tether, but it doesn’t resolve the issue for users connected to 3G or LTE instead of Wi-Fi. In addition, there is often a lag in response and is not recommended for activities requiring low ping rates.
As mentioned previously, the battery life isn’t the greatest either, and users will have to have the unit plugged in for most of the day, with limited use when disconnected while on the move.
The unit offers wireless security in the form of WPA/WPA2 password protection, but there is an anomaly to this. The default password is found on the bottom of the casing, and given the fact that most users aren’t overly keen on changing default settings, the password is easily attainable by those in the surrounding work environment. But, if you do wish to change the defaults, the app does allow users to change the SSID and password (or disable password if needed), as well as changing the Wi-Fi channel for less interference in the office.
The Verbatim MediaShare Wireless isn’t a bad device by any means, but does lack a few obvious necessities, as pointed out above. At a cost of R520, the unit isn’t overly expensive as a wireless storage solution. As with the WD My Passport Wireless, which carries a R3000 price tag (although with a built-in 2GB drive), the Verbatim MediaShare Wireless isn’t 100% on the money. That said, the concepts are very useful, despite the shortcomings of a product whose potential was not fully realised. It is, however, worth noting that, apart from the exclusion of a storage drive, many of the issues could be rectified by means of firmware and app updates. And I certainly do hope that these changes aren’t too far off.