In my last post, I focused mainly on the mechanics of using the 1TB Western Digital My Passport Wi-Fi hard drive (there is also a 2TB model). I concluded that Western Digital has done a nice job of providing us with a conveniently small (physically) storage device that also gives us very easy to use access from our mobile devices and computers via Wi-Fi. My initial goal in taking a closer look at this drive was to see if it was something someone who does not have a computer, just a higher end camera and mobile devices, could use to store and access his/her captured images. For its storage and access capabilities, I give an unqualified thumbs-up! Certainly, it doesn’t replace the functionality of a full fledged computer. However, we are reaching a time with technology when some folks, typically older, new to embracing technology, folks are quite satisfied with a mobile tablet, whether it’s an iPad or an Android tablet and, perhaps, a smartphone. All they want to do is keep in touch with their families, children and grandchildren, via e-mail or text messaging. They are learning how to do online shopping and maybe even online banking. They can do all of this quite nicely with a smartphone or tablet. If they do, however, get interested in photography, as my tutoring client has, they will quickly run out of space on their devices. The My Passport Wi-Fi drive is a perfect solution.
Whether you fall into the above category or are one with a computer and many external hard drives, you will want to know just how one uses this drive on a daily basis. In this post, I hope to describe just that. First, though, here are a few points I didn’t make in my earlier articles on this great drive. The drive can be accessed by up to eight different devices at once. Assuming you don’t have eight devices of your own, this means several friends or members of your family can all use the hard drive at the same time! And four different videos can be streamed from the drive simultaneously. Taken from promotional material: “Stream up to 4 HD videos simultaneously to multiple devices. Plus, stream your media to connected TV's, media players, gaming consoles and other DLNA/UPnP devices.” I did mention this feature but it bears repeating: you can connect the drive to a Wi-Fi hot spot (home, hotel, or other location) and, thus, share that Internet connection with up to seven other devices besides your own. The time I see this being the most useful is at a family gathering where your guests want to access your wireless network, but you also want them to share pictures they take while visiting. If this is in a public place, since you can password protect your My Passport, you can ensure you have a secure connection even if sharing a public access point.
The My Passport drive is intended to be a media drive, that is, it is for storing and viewing images and videos. As far as I can tell, there is no way to access other types of files from mobile devices. So, it doesn’t appear possible, for example, to click on a word processing document on the device and open it in, say, Pages or some other like app. However, since it acts like any other hard drive when you access it from your computer, you could save and retrieve any other type of file. So, given that limitation, here are some ways I see using the My Passport.
At Home for Easy Storage and Retrieval and as Wi-Fi Extender
I covered this usage in my previous articles, but it is worth repeating that it is possible to use this wi-fi device to extend your home network somewhat. Note, however, that this is not its purpose! I just found that it gave me a little better signal if I put it on the far corner of our back deck, close to my wi-fi base station (an Apple Airport Extreme), connected to it with my iPhone, and then went out about 50’ (15+ meters) to our grill.
I have also written about using PhotoSync to transfer images between my mobile devices and my laptop. The My Passport drive can take that app’s place if I simply upload the image files I want on another device to the wi-fi drive and then retrieve them from the drive to my iPad, for example. So, the My Passport acts like any other network storage device, whether at home or on vacation. I can see using it as a collection point, for example, of all the images family members or friends take on an outing or vacation. Last summer our son’s family and our daughter’s family spent two weeks with us at the beach. Everyone has iPhones. I have yet to get any of the images they took with their iPhones to use in a photobook I want to put together. If I had had the My Passport, I could have simply had it running in the condo and asked everyone to share their best photos to one folder on the drive. Voila! I would have all the photos in one place when I returned home!
En Route on Trips as an Entertainment Delivery Device
If the folks you are traveling with on a long trip have smartphones or mobile tablets, you can run the My Passport drive in the car and your passengers can watch different videos (up to four!) on their own devices while you drive. No more, “Are we almost there?” questions. Everyone can be entertained. I have a power inverter in our car that plugs into a standard lighter outlet in back part of car. So, in addition to other electronic devices, I can plug the drive into a regular outlet so the battery will last for trips that last longer than 4-6 hours. The use of the drive as a multi-video streaming device is something I have not yet tried myself. I will do this sometime soon and share my experience in a future post.
In Hotel Room or Coffee Shop Storage Space for Images to Work On I have come to expect free wi-fi in hotel rooms. Unfortunately, it is not always the case. Most hotels, whether they offer free wi-fi or not, usually have a wired Ethernet connection available for a daily fee. If you opt to go that route and also have another very useful and inexpensive device, the HooToo TripMate Nano Wireless N Pocket Travel Router ($18 - http://amzn.to/1FeKt5I. More info: http://bit.ly/hootootripmate and a mention in a previous post of mine: http://www.infotor.com/blog/photo-management-what-if-you-dont-have-a-computer/). You can plug the Ethernet cable into the TripMate Nano and then connect the My Passport to the HooToo. That is, of course, a whole other story and material for a future post after I have tried this arrangement. However, if your hotel room - or wherever you can access a free public wi-fi network - does have wi-fi, you can connect your My Passport drive to it and by securing your drive with a password you make your own online transactions more private.
I know some free-lancers actually use their local coffee shop, Starbucks for example, as their “office” away from home. I hang out at a local MacDonald’s while I wait for my car to be repaired. In both of these locations, one has free access to wi-fi. My MacDonald’s time is time to work on things and those things can be images on my My Passport drive. Since I can connect the drive to the free wi-fi network available, I can still get out to the Internet via the drive as I work on images.
Yes, this is one useful addition to my arsenal of technology tools! I won’t be going many places without my trusty My Passport drive!
Check out my free eBook on Mastering Your Camera's Priority Modes: http://www.infotor.com/ebooks. Download and enjoy!
In addition to offering scheduled, hands-on photography classes periodically, I am also available to do one-on-one tutoring or small group lessons designed to meet YOUR needs and what you want to learn in the area of photography, using flashes, or the use of Apple products and software. Give yourself the gift of learning: http://www.infotor.com/photoclasses! And check out my tutoring bundle: http://www.infotor.com/photoclasses/tutoringbundle.php as well. A PDF of my brochure is at http://www.infotor.com/photoclasses/brochures/WHBI-Brochure_2015.pdf.