Free Your Wi-Fi with Canvio Aerocast™ 1TB Wireless Portable Hard Drive
I hate running out of space. I hate it when packing up my seasonal decorations, I hate it when trying to find a box for my current year’s tax paperwork, I hate it when packing the car when grocery shopping. I hate running out of space, and I run out of space quite often.
Yes, you’re right: I could just have less stuff. I could cut down on my clutter and throw out some old stuff and probably set fire to a closet or two of old clothes—but that would just give me free reign to fill up those old boxes and storage spaces with more stuff; a blank check to clutter again.
You see, I’m a data hoarder. I keep old digital photographs from at least ten years ago, old movies that I’ve turned into .avi files and keep for what I like to think are sentimental reasons, but how sentimental am I going to get over old copies of The Office? I also recently digitized my music collection, which comprised literally thousands of CDs, and I am unwilling to throw out anything—even songs that I have no idea were in my possession, like I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas. Or Moon River performed by cats. I’ve led a full life.
But being a data hoarder has its problems, especially in this new age of smaller, more compact mobile devices. I can’t rely on hauling out my outdated 15" laptop every time I want to watch Day of the Triffids (which I won’t throw out) or listen to Me and Bobby McGee, by Janis Joplin (which I can’t throw out), or peruse pictures of me in last year’s horrendous paisley one-piece swimsuit (which I should throw out). And my smartphone only has 8GB of storage—that used to be a lot of storage when all you carried around on your phone were a couple of songs and photos of your kids. But these days, 8GB won’t get you through a workout and let you watch a movie and keep all of your social media photos in one place. That 8GB will dry up faster than water on the sun.
Yes, there are plenty of mobile devices with expandable storage. You can find a smartphone that has a higher capacity, or use an SD card for up to 64GB of extra data. You could. But say you can’t. Your smartphone upgrade isn’t happening for another 18 months, or your tablet doesn’t take SD cards. What can you do?
Toshiba says you can buy yourself a 1TB Canvio Aerocast™ Wireless Portable Hard Drive. Experience the joy of finally untethering yourself from your smartphone or tablet, of finally saying goodbye to the paltry limitations of your device and saying hello to bigger, faster, roomier storage devices. It’s like finally finding a closet in your house that no one knew existed, and filling it up with all your stuff. But you can take this closet with you.
The Canvio Aerocast™ is more than just an external storage drive. It’s an external wireless storage drive that doesn’t need to be physically attached to your computer to work (although it does that, too). It has a built-in Wi-Fi access point to connect to your mobile devices wirelessly so that your smartphone, laptop, or tablet can access its contents from almost anywhere. Imagine loading the spacious 1TB drive with all of your favorite movies and music, then taking a long drive, cross-country flight, or a relaxing getaway weekend with all the digital comforts of home at your fingertips. No more having to choose which photos to haul to Grandma’s or which two movies to load on to your tablet. Bring ’em all, and let fate sort them out.
As if the 1TB capacity weren’t enough, there’s an included SD card slot so that you can download digital files from other devices directly onto the drive. So, you’re out in the field, shooting pictures of the local flora and fauna, and suddenly the SD card in your camera fills up faster than a kitten in a creamery. If you have multiple cards, you can switch them out periodically, but unless you’re super organized, you could lose track of the cards, forget what’s on them, or accidentally erase them. With the Canvio Aerocast™, simply take the card, pop it into the drive, download your photos, and start clean again. With 1TB of room, you’ll tire of the scenery quicker than you will of the ability of the drive to hold your shots. Then you can scan the photos via your laptop, tablet, or smartphone without repeatedly inserting SD cards into your device.
So how easy is it to use and set up? Here’s the rundown. I got the unit (which is smaller than an iPhone 5s, but almost twice as thick), took it out of the box, plugged it in to charge it, and then simply looked into the network settings for the drive. I clicked Connect, and before you know it, I was in. I then took the drive and, using the included USB 3.0 cable, started downloading files from my PC directly to the drive (you’ll find the initial data dump to be the longest. It took me about two hours to transfer 500GB of data—more on that later). Once the Canvio Aerocast™was full, I removed the cords, and accessed the unit again. I was immediately connected to the device, and made a Shared Folder on my laptop to access the files.
Now comes the testing. The first involved the streaming capabilities of the device. Nothing fancy, and nothing too technical; I just wanted to know if I could stream a 7GB movie file without any interruptions over the Canvio Aerocast™ Wi-Fi. I loaded the movie, clicked play, and watched the first 40 minutes of Aliens without interruption. No hiccups, stutters, or lag—just seamless streaming. The Canvio Aerocast™was about 36 inches away from the laptop. I then tried the same movie from a longer distance, about 15 feet, and the movie still played flawlessly. When I moved the laptop two rooms away, with four walls between us with a total distance of about 36 feet, I noticed some slowdown and lag. Any farther than that and the movie stopped. Music fared the same. But seriously, you’ll probably never be that far from the device. It’s meant to be with you wherever you go. It’s not defined by your wireless router signal, only by the wireless connection between your device and the drive. And with the ability to host six simultaneous users, you can go camping with this and have the whole campsite connected to your content. I had guests over when testing the unit, and I invited them to browse through a family photo album on the device, and they all did, simultaneously, preventing us from all crowding around a tiny phone or laptop screen.
It was easy to cast the digital content from my Canvio AeroCast™ to the TV. This means that, after installing the Google Cast Ready app, you can transmit content from your Canvio Aerocast™to your HDTV (via an optional Chromecast media-streaming device).
So, let’s talk about the two hours it took to transfer the data. Toshiba says the data rate is 150 Mbps (18.75 MB/s) over the wireless, which seems incredibly fast, and it is. But as I’ve said in many articles before, the conditions under which these wireless numbers are accrued do not always represent real-world values. Running on a laptop with an Intel® Core™ i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, and using Windows 8.1, the transfer rate for a 2GB movie topped out at about 6 MB/s, not the 18.75 MB/s that’s touted. This could be attributed to a number of factors: bottlenecking by my computer, the file type, the folder structure, but it’s still a significant shift. Using a totally clean OS with no bloating on the front end may see better numbers, and transferring large groups and small groups will also affect the outcome.
But for what it does, and what it is specifically designed to do, the Toshiba Canvio Aerocast™ is a storage lifesaver. I am going to be so sad to have to give this review unit back—it’s like someone went into my bedroom and tore out my closet—but that just means I might have to go and pick one up. Safely, quickly, and easily, it allows you to share your life’s digital memories, and gives you the freedom to use your smartphone, tablet, or laptop to store even more.
|Storage Interface||802.11b/g/n or USB 3.0|
|Wireless LAN||IEEE 802.11b/g/n|
|Transfer Rate||Up to 150 Mb/s (wireless)|
|Up to 5 Gb/s (USB 3.0)|
|System Requirements||PC or Mac:|
|Windows 8.1, Windows 8 and Windows 7. Mac OS X 10.7, 10.8, and 10.9 with included NTFS driver for Mac|
|- iOS version 6 or later|
|- Android version 2.3 or later|
|Available Wireless LAN interface|
|Compatibility may vary depending on user's hardware configuration and operating system|
|Use of Time Machine software is not supported|
|Application software required and will need to be downloaded from the Toshiba website and/or other websites|
|Dimensions||4.78 x 3.39 x 0.96" / 121.4 x 86.0 x 24.4mm|
|Weight||9.88 oz / 280 g|