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BUFFALO MiniStation Air 1TB USB 3.0 / WIFI Wireless Mobile Storage HDW-PD1.0U3
  • 1 TB expanded mobile capacity
  • Wi-Fi Hotspot
  • Connect up to 8 devices simultaneously
  • Charge the smartphone on-the-go
  • Up to 12 hours battery life
  • 3 years warranty
  • $199.99
  • $169.99
  • Save: $30.00 (15%)
  • Free Shipping (restrictions apply)

Pros:

- 25MB/s write speed on USB2.0, 108MB/s write speed on USB 3.0, 3MB/s write speed over wifi. 5MB/s. read speed…this is horribly slow.
- 1TB capacity. Tons of storage if, like me, you'll be streaming to tablets and small devices. Then you can re-encode your videos to smaller mp4 files that are fully supported by the device and fit more on the 1TB of space.
- uPNP, Samba, and web interface. Pretty much everything you need for any application.
- On Android, ES File Explorer detects SMB shares and MX Player plays everything from avi files to ogv (Ogg Video) files. This is superior to any proprietary DLNA/uPNP app, including Buffalo’s own.
- The interface runs on lighttpd for the web UI and the twonky configuration files are accessible through SMB and when the disk is mounted. (For you tinkerers, it appears you can edit the configuration files, if you’d like, there is not ssh access or anything developer-friendly, unfortunately.)
- “Disclose to network” Security implementation. When accessing the Buffalo from a different network I get the error “This device is currently connected to the MiniStation through an access point. To switch to another access point, connect to the MiniStation directly.” This lets me know that if someone were to break through the WAN (or another client on a public wifi network) then it wouldn’t be wide open to meddling.
- If you enable “Disclose to network,” however, then you can access the Buffalo (web, DLNA, SMB) from other clients on the host network the Buffalo is connected to.
- Power saving settings: “Don’t sleep”, “Balanced”, and “eco”. By default it is set to “Don’t sleep.” Balanced seems more reasonable.
- Extensive help information right on the web interface for those who may not be so savvy. Included instructions were very informative as well.
- It can act as a repeater for up to 5 clients. (You can also set it up with AOSS/WPS [PIN and PBC] though I always strongly advocate against WPS altogether.)
- 3-Year warranty!
- Additional USB charging port to charge other devices form that beastly 12-hour battery (I think…see cons.)
- Solid, sturdy build.

Ministation Air2 Android app:
- Surprisingly smooth though it did force close often when running in the background on my Nook. I’ve converted most of my files to mp4 format to save on space so the device works well for it.
- Says “Designed for phones.” But looks fine on tablets.
- Is a full remote to the device meaning you change all the MiniStation settings, see drive free space, battery %, and even power off the device from the app.
- “Auto upload” feature can be enabled. If you pair your smartphone with the MiniStation often then it can act as a backup device for your pictures and images.
- Can navigate away while it’s playing music and it continues to play. The app crashed once when I did this and uploaded simultaneously but when I opened it again it continued uploading where it left off. I later realized it just crashes in the background regar

Cons:

I was worried about that 5MB/s read and write speed over wifi because it seems a little slow if you’re streaming multiple devices. Sure enough, my daughter was watching a hefty 720p mp4 (Frozen for the 500000th time) and as soon as I did anything on another device, be it stream an SD movie, copy a file, or anything, her movie glitched and stuttered. Definitely -1 egg for that. If you say a device can support up to 8 clients I hardly think it’s possible with such an incapable network.

I charged the device to 100%, left it on my couch powered off for about 20 hours, and when I powered it back on to use it, it kept dying within 30 seconds. Does the battery drain even not when in use? I’m going to have to do more testing with this. Even so, the battery light was green and not red so it was as confused as I was about whether it was charged. On that note, having a green = charged and red = dead scheme is not really helpful. Even an orange battery light in between would have been useful. (After testing it throughout the weekend it has not happened again. I’m guessing it has to do with the next con.)

It has been finicky sometimes. I've had to restart the device many times before wifi showed up again on my tablet on three separate occasions. I troubleshot it anyway I could. Toggling wifi off and on, on both devices and power cycling both devices. It is just buggy sometimes. Maybe future firmware updates will stabilize it (for a $170 device there will be future firmware updates, right?) But when it works, it works and It's not like it's always giving problems. 89% of the time it works without a hitch (with one wireless client streaming.)

Not really a con, but I’m only assuming the USB charging port works on good faith. When I've plugged my phone or tablet in there’s no sign that they’re charging. Even when I plugged my old iPod Mini in there was still no indication. I never really planned to use the feature anyway but it’s notable.

Other Thoughts:

When Newegg offered this assignment I started right away researching the tech. I’m experienced with wifi, NAS, and HDD tech but not really an AIO device combining them all. There are many options out there if you do your research but I can say this is not a horrible drive if you have the money to spend. It is capable, sturdy, a 3 year warranty, and the battery life is superb. Overall this is a decent device but I can’t say it’s a 5-star product. There are some kinks to work out with the firmware it seems and the wireless speeds are seriously lacking. I haven’t tested it against similar products to measure it but I know my home wireless network has never had problems streaming to even three and four devices. Granted this is a mobile product and not a $100 router,

For a $170 price tag I would expect a reliable, smoothly operating 5-egg device. Instead there were a few random reboots, dropped connections, and it struggled to stream to even two devices when it's supposed to support up to eight. When it worked, it remained stable mostly. The only times there were issues were connecting and powering on.

This is definitely a 3-egg product for $170.
It would easily be a 4 to 5-egg product if it cost around $100 to $120. Or if future firmware updates fix some of the bugs then could redeem itself (I will update this review if that ever happens.)


Some things to note:

-If this device is too expensive or you want more customization then I recommend checking out wireless enclosures by Macally. You can pick one up for ~$30 to ~$40 (some even have ethernet ports and SD card slots) and a 500GB hard drive for $50-$60 or so and have the same device for close to half the price. (You could also consider SSD or smaller drives if you wanted.)

-The internal disk to this is a $70 “Travelstar 5K1000” (See Newegg Item#: N82E16822145584 for reviews on that.) It’s a 5400RPM 8MB cache drive with a decent reputation.

-It CAN be used while charging but wifi turns off when USB is plugged in. Also it’s more susceptible to the finicky problems I mentioned in cons.

-The wifi reaches throughout my small, one story house. The signal will drop to one or two bars when in the front yard or across the house but it still streams [to one device] with no problems.

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  • Theodore P.
  • EggXpert
  • Owned For: 1 week to 1 month


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