Tim Cook. CEO of Apple, recently predicted that sales of tablet computers would exceed sales of desktop computers by 2015. I believe that he is correct. For travelers, a seven inch tablet can be carried in a large pocket or purse. Try to do that with your laptop or notebook! The challenge is that a typical desktop machine will have a hard drive of 500 GB or more. that’s plenty of room for media. Tablets have flash storage with capacities of up to 64 GB. Things can get crowded. Certainly a few tablets come with SD slots, but many do not, and none have USB ports. However, external storage for media is available via WiFi gadgets. This article will discuss two such gadgets priced at $100 or less.
First up is the SanDisk Connect Media Drive. It’s available in two capacities, 32GB and 64GB. This little gadget is roughly square measuring less than 3 inches on a side and less than 1/2 inch thick. It has a micro USB port for charging and a standard SD card slot if you need even more capacity. Companion software is avavailable for both Apple and Android at their respective app stores. Here’s how it works. When plugged into a USB port on a PC or Mac, it mounts as a visible drive. Drag and drop documents, songs, and videos to the drive. To view or play them turn on the device and in a few seconds it behaves like a router and broadcasts its SSID. Connect to the network with your tablet, run the companion software and enjoy your media. At least five people can connect simultaneously. The gadget will run for at least 4 to 5 hours on a charge. There is one limitation. Media must be in a format that your tablet can run natively. So, for example. if you have a movie in AVI format you must first convert it to MP4 or H264 on your desktop machine. This is easily done with Handbrake but it takes some time and is a bit of a nuisance.
Next is the HooToo TripMate HT-TM01Portable Travel Router. This gadget is oval shaped, about 4 inches long, 2 inches wide and 3/4 inch thick. It has a dual purpose of being a portable power supply with a capacity of 5200 mah. That’s enough to charge your smartphone or small table one time.It will only charge a full sized iPad to about 25%, enough for about two hours of usage. Like the SanDisk it is charged through a micro USB port. Unlike the SanDisk it has no internal storage but has a regular USB port for network attached storage (NAS). Yes, this a complete router supporting b,g and n protocols. Should you want to change the router characteristics it has an IP address accessible through most web browsers. Use it like the SanDisk. Turn it on and it broadcasts its SSID. Connect to it with your tablet and run the companion software. Unlike the SanDisk your media is on standard USB sticks and your already installed player (that supports streaming) plays the media. For Android users MXPlayer and Dice Player are good choices, Apple users should consider OPLayer or VLC.
Both of these devices are good. IMHO the TripMate has the advantage of not having to convert incompatible formats. There is a work-around for the SanDisk. The device does have the ability to upload files to the tablet. So, providing space is available, you can upload the media, play it on your tablet with your desired player and then delete it. The upload does take some time depending on the size of the file.
If your traveling, don’t hesitate to invest in one of these gadgets.