Always wanted to view your favorite video or images on your tablet but your portable just doesn’t have enough space? Or share your funny downloaded clips with several friends without all of them crowding around a phone? Buffalo has the answer with their new MiniStation Air. We managed to get some exclusive hands-on time with this nifty little device, which is due for release in the region sometime next month in January 2013.
The Buffalo MiniStation Air is a new portable hard disk drive that can stream to and from your tablet and smartphone devices wirelessly. With a large 500GB capacity that dwarves any tablet or smartphone, you won’t be running out of space anytime soon. The device comes with mainly only one port, which is the USB3.0 port that’s also compatible with USB2.0 devices/connections. The other interface is for the USB power cable, which is used to charge the MiniStation Air. According to Buffalo, the MiniStation Air can last over 4 hours on a full charge. Take note that if you connect the MiniStation Air to your PC via USB, it won't be able to wirelessly stream data.
On the other side are 2 buttons – one for the power button, the other is for AOSS (AirStation One-Touch Secure System). AOSS allows a quick and easy secure wireless connection setup with just a press of a button. If you have an AOSS-enabled wireless device or client in your network, you can quickly setup an encrypted wireless connection for the MiniStation Air.
We were not able to test the AOSS features of the MiniStation Air during our hands-on preview, but we could try out the product’s main feature – streaming data from the MiniStation Air to our portable smartphone devices. The MiniStation Air supports both Android and iOS devices. To connect to the MiniStation Air, we had to first download the app, which is available on both Google Play and iTunes Store. Once we switched on the device and opened the app, it was just a matter of entering the device’s key code after detecting it on our Wi-Fi network. Just like that, we were able to connect to the MiniStation Air and access its multimedia content.
The neat part about the MiniStation Air is that it can stream data to more than one smartphone device. As you can see in our pic, we were able to stream or download different music videos to 3 different devices with none displaying any lag or slowdowns. The MiniStation Air can stream up to 8 devices simultaneously, with 3 HD streams. It’s an impressive showcase of prowess from the MiniStation Air. However, keep in mind that streaming to more than one device can eat up quite a bit of battery life.
Furthermore, if you have an Android device, you can upload media files to the MiniStation Air, which makes it great for sharing and storage if you are running out of space on your smartphone device. Unfortunately, iOS devices cannot upload data to the MiniStation Air. This is due to a licensing issue with Apple, so Android devices have the upper-hand in both reading and writing media to the MiniStation Air.
Even though your smartphone or tablet device is connected to the MiniStation Air wirelessly, you can still browse online. The MiniStation Air can be connected to another Wi-Fi network, so you can still stream music from the Mini-Station to your device while web surfing. This means you don’t have to disconnect your tablet/device from the Mini-Station Air to switch to another wireless network just to web surf.
This Internet connectivity also means that the Mini-Station Air can be used as a mobile hotspot. So if you don’t want to share the password details of your private office or home network with other people, you can connect the MiniStation Air to your network and you have a mobile hotspot that doesn’t compromise your main network’s details.
Osamu Tomita, Country Manager of Buffalo Southeast Asia & Oceania Sales Department, told us that the MiniStation Air will roughly debut at around RM500, which may seem a bit pricey for a portable hard disk drive until you take into consideration the device’s wireless capabilities. Being able to stream media to multiple tablets or smartphone devices is a really useful time-saving feature, and with an Android device, you can also wirelessly transfer files on your mobile to the MiniStation Air to save storage. If you travel regularly and want to bring your favorite media to watch on your tablet and/or smartphone, the Buffalo MiniStation Air can be a very handy device indeed.
Lim Kuan Keat
As the Editor of GameAxis Unwired Malaysia, Lim Kuan Keat has the enviable job of playing and writing about the latest video game titles and trends in the market. He loves video games regardless of platform, and he hopes to see the hobby become more commonplace and accepted in Malaysia. He also digs movies, manga, anime, and occasionally a good book or two when he has the time, which he sadly lacks these days.