GEAR & TECHNIQUES PRODUCT REVIEWS
different 720p video files off the device—
one to an iPhone and another to a Mac
Mini—while using an iPad to browse
through a 300-plus image library stored
on the WD. We didn’t experience any lag
in the video playback. At other times, it
wasn’t a consistently flawless experience.
There were delays and buffering on video
playback even when only streaming to just
one device, but that was the exception.
WD says the bit-stream will top out at
8Mbps to any single device, so there’s
obviously a limit on how large an HD file
you’ll want to push through the Passport’s
Wi-Fi, but we found video streaming to
work quite well overall.
Photo browsing was a slower and less
consistent experience, however. It often
took 20 seconds or more to load an initial
image, though once an album loads on the
app, subsequent images populate more
WD promises six hours of battery life
on the drive. In our tests, we sometimes fell
short of that, but never by more than a few
minutes. Battery status is readily available
on the app, browser dashboard and (less
precisely) on the drive’s LED status
monitor. We found that the Passport’s
advertised range of 150 feet was pretty
spot-on for uploading and browsing files
on the device, but not for video streaming,
which started to buffer beyond the 40–50
The device itself measures in at 5 x 3. 39 x 1. 17 inches and weighs
0.77 pounds. The 2TB version is the thickest and heaviest of the My
Passport Wireless family—which includes a 500GB and 1TB version—
but it’s still unobtrusive in a camera bag or backpack, and on par with
other wireless portable drives.
The WD My Passport Wireless is a versatile tool that photographers
should find quite useful. The drive is available in 500GB, 1TB and 2TB
capacities for $130, $180 and $220, respectively, prices that are roughly
in line with the competition. We wish the Web-based dashboard
included file management and that the app had speedier photo
browsing, but all in all we were impressed with the My Passport’s
feature set and performance.
The workflow with an SD card is smooth.
When transferring images directly from a
card, the drive can erase all the transferred
images or simply make a duplicate copy.
It can also be configured to automatically
transfer any files whenever a card is
inserted into the slot. When we transferred
an SD card with about 1GB worth of data,
it took about 31 seconds for the images to
show up in our Mac’s Finder and 35 seconds
to pop up into the SD Card Transfers folder
on the My Cloud app. By comparison, it
took our Mac nearly 3 minutes to load these
files onto the card itself.
While the card transfer process is
speedy, there’s one small limitation: you
can’t actually preview an SD card’s contents
using the My Cloud app unless you first
transfer all of your files onto the drive.
The My Passport Wireless drive can store
most any file type, but the My Cloud app
will only display files that are supported by
your device—so you if you’re loading RAW
files to the Passport and your phone doesn’t
support them, you can’t view them.
Backing up images stored on your phone
or tablet requires manually transferring
them to the drive using the My Cloud app.
Unfortunately, the app won’t monitor your
camera roll and do it for you automatically
when it detects new photos or videos.
However, you can access your device’s
camera from within the My Cloud app so
that any photo you snap is then backed up to the My Passport.
You can also forgo all the wireless functionality of the drive and use
it as you would any external hard drive. We enjoyed write speeds of
around 70MB/s and read speeds of 90MB/s over USB 3.0 when testing
the drive with Blackmagic Design’s Disk Speed Test. The same 1GB
folder of images that took 3 minutes to transfer to our SD card zipped
off the My Passport and back onto our Mac in under a minute.
There are multiple ways to access the My Passport Wireless. When
you connect a desktop or laptop wirelessly, the drive will appear as a
networked storage device, giving you access to the drive’s contents.
You can also access a specialized dashboard through a Web browser
that provides information on remaining capacity and battery life, and
lets you adjust drive settings. Oddly, you can’t actually access your
files in the browser dashboard. We think it would have been more
convenient if you could.
The My Cloud app is a little less intuitive than the Web dashboard,
but after a day of regular use we got the hang of it. The app organizes
all your files into folders, but will let you sort files by photo, video
and stills on the bottom navigation pane. Once you’re viewing a given
media format, you’ll have further options to view all, view by date, or
by album name. You can also view device status (remaining battery
life, capacity, etc.) although you’ll have to dig a bit for it in the app.
Thanks to its dual-stream 802.11n Wi-Fi, the drive can stream
HD video to up to four devices simultaneously. We played two
Western Digital My Passport Wireless
PROS: Solid feature set, excellent HD media streaming,
easy to set-up and use.
CONS: Functions split between browser dashboard and
Finder/Explorer, photo browsing inconsistent on app.
PRICE: $219.99 (2TB); $179.99 (1TB); $119.99 (500GB)
You can navigate the My Passport Wireless drive’s
contents using apps for iOS and Android devices.