ASUS Singapore sent me the ASUS Travelair AC (WSD-A1) for my review, and it does not look like the usual tech product. Upon unboxing, a turquoise-coloured plastic disc sits within a paper box covered with silky fabric in similar colour tone. One would be forgiven to think that it is a beauty product or fashion accessory.
The ASUS Travelair AC is a wireless flash storage device with built-in 32GB storage, and SD card reader that supports up to 256GB. When you plug the Travelair AC to a computer using the micro USB 2.0 cable, the computer will recognise the Travelair AC as a flash storage device and you can then transfer files as usual.
To access the contents wirelessly, install the ASUS AiDrive app on the devices running on Android, iOS, or Kindle Fire, and connect via Wi-Fi that the ASUS Travelair AC broadcasts. A switch allows me to select either the 2.4GHz (802.11n) or 5GHz (802.11ac) band. You should select the 5GHz which transmits at higher speed unless your smartphone does not support. When connected to 2.4GHz, the second LED shows blue, and on 5GHz, the second LED shows orange.
The AiDrive app lets you explore the files to stream, download, or upload.
Media files like photos and music can be consumed without downloading. Music files can even be played at the background without keeping the app running in the foreground. Videos require external app to stream the files.
There is also option to enable SAMBA and UPnP, which are media sharing protocols to allow other consumer electronic devices (like TV) to connect to Travelair AC and stream media easily.
What is the purpose of a wireless storage device like the ASUS Travelair? Here are some benefits if you have one in your bag.
More Storage Space
There are still many smartphones that do not come with expandable storage, like Apple iPhone. So having the WSD-A1 allows users to access additional storage on-the-go. If you are asking about cloud storage, accessing it utilizes free data units or incurring data charges. With WSD-A1, you can move files and free up space on the smartphone for other purposes, and even access them without chalking up data charges. I transferred a 220MB video file and it took 53 seconds.
Same Files on Multiple Devices
Another benefit of WSD-A1 is the ability to allow multiple computing devices to connect and access files. Once you upload files from a smartphone, it can be accessed from a tablet or another smartphone. This saves the hassle of copying the same files to all your devices. The WSD-A1 supports up to 5 connected devices, 3 if streaming HD video.
Pairing to smartphone is easy as the WSD-A1 comes with NFC chip. If your smartphone supports NFC, just place the phone at the top of the device and the pairing will initiate.
Portable Backup Storage
You might have some files that you do not want to keep in your smartphone (like video files of several gigabytes). Or you want to back-up the SD cards containing photos and videos shot with your camera. The WSD-A1 would be ideal for such case. The AiDrive app has a transfer status page to display the transfers in progress, successful and failed transfers, so that you can keep track of the progress while you browse around the app.
The AiDrive app has a convenient option to backup the Contacts or the Camera content on your smartphone. When initiating backup, the AiDrive app will only copy files that are not already backed up to the WSD-A1.
If you need a larger storage capacity, you can consider the ASUS Wireless Duo (1000 GB) which I also reviewed previously, or any harddisk-based products with built-in Wi-Fi. Unlike the Wireless Duo, there is no option to automatically backup files from the SD card inserted into the AiDrive.
The built-in battery powers the device for 10 hours. with the remaining battery life indicated on the app for ease of battery management. The first LED on the device will also change from green to red when battery is low.
As your smartphone is connected to the WSD-A1, it is still possible to bridge access to the Internet by configuring the WSD-A1 to connect to any Wi-Fi network. When you are outdoors, connect to a public Wi-Fi like Wireless@SG to maintain Internet connection while you use the WSD-A1. The need for Internet bridging is a one deterrent to use wireless storage device for long periods if there is no Wi-Fi network, because it loses mobile data connectivity (unless your device supports dual connectivity: mobile network plus Wi-Fi network). This constraint applies to all other wireless storage devices as well.
It is possible to use the WSD-A1 purely as an Internet sharing device without the AiDrive app. Once WSD-A1 is bridged to a Wi-Fi network, other devices can connect to the WSD-A1 Wi-Fi network and access Internet. On average, the WSD-A1 can stream at half the speed compared to when the tested devices are connected directly to the bridging Wi-Fi network. When multiple devices are connected to the WSD-A1, the subsequent devices achieve much lower speed.
There are many portable wireless drives in the market, but the ASUS Travelair AC WSD-A1 looks nothing like the usual tech gadget. ASUS claims it is the world’s first 802.11ac wireless flash drive device, and the product design appears to target at non-techie consumers. The device can store 32GB plus up to 256GB in SD card, which may be insufficient for heavy users. I like the ease of backing up the existing smartphone camera photos with a simple step on the AiDrive app. Retails for S$99 available at the usual electronic retail stores.
Product Website: https://www.asus.com/sg/Optical-Drives-Storage/Travelair-AC-WSD-A1/
Supported OS: Windows® 10, Windows® 8, Windows® 7, Mac OS X 10.6 or higher, iOS7 or higher, AndroidTM 4.0 or higher, Kindle Fire HD and HDX
Weight: 120 g
Network standard: IEEE 802.11 b/g/n/ac
Battery capacity: 3000 mAh
Battery life: 10 hours
Number of connected devices: 5 (3 when streaming HD video)
Contest Giveaway (ended 9 Oct 2016)
Thanks to the folks at ASUS Singapore, I will be giving away the ASUS Travelair AC WSD-A1 to one lucky reader. Visit my MusicPhotoLife Facebook page to find the contest post of the Travelair AC and leave your comment to describe how you will use the Travelair AC.