In the consumer hard drive space, it looks like Western Digital is following in the footsteps of its arch rival Seagate. First it was the release of the WD Black² Dual Drive which was released almost two to three years after Seagate had already started selling its hybrid drives. Even with the portable hard drives, Seagate had introduced the Wireless drives couple of years back, but we only now have a WD My Passport Wireless drive. To WD’s defence all we can say is that although, it comes late to the party it makes sure that it adds an innovative edge to the existing technologies. With the Black Dual Drive, WD put in a 120GB SSD element along with the 1TB HDD laptop drive; Seagate uses 8GB flash storage in its third generation SSHDs. With the wireless drive, WD has added on an SD card slot whereas the Seagate ones have only the in-built Wi-fi adapter. So let us see if WD impresses with the My Passport Wireless.
Build and Design: 8/10
The WD My Passport Wireless drive looks like any My Passport drive we have seen in the past. The major difference is the presence of an SD card slot on the left hand side of the drive. Thanks to that and the fact that the drive houses an in-built Wi-fi adapter and a battery, the WD My Passport drive is quite thick in appearance. It measures 24.4mm deep and weighs just under 230 grams There are two buttons on the top (power and WPS) just beside the USB 3.0 port. Overall build quality of the WD My Passport Wireless is sturdy.
WD My Passport Wireless houses a 1TB drive of which 927GB is available to the user. The USP of the drive is the presence of an SD card slot on this drive apart from the dual-stream 802.11n Wi-fi adapter inside it. A built-in SD card slot on an external portable drive is an industry first and WD needs to be given a pat on the back for integrating that on an external drive.
The My Passport Wireless comes with a USB 3.0 interface and there are two buttons beside the USB 3.0 port - the power button and the Wi-fi protected setup (WPS) button. You can connect your Android or iOS devices to the drive using the WD My Cloud app. There are two status indicators on the front of the drive for power and Wi-fi signal respectively. The power indicator glows blue for full charge, green for 75 per cent charge, amber for 50 per cent and red for 15 per cent or less.
The drive creates its own Wi-fi hotspot to which you can connect as many as eight devices at a time. This is similar to what we saw with the Seagate Wireless Plus drive. Also if you are streaming HD content, you can only connect four devices, anything more and the outcome will be full of stutter. The drive also supports Wi-fi pass through which allows your devices to be connected to the internet via the WD My Passport Wireless drive. You will need to connect the WD drive to your home wi-fi network in order for the passthrough to work.
The SD card slot only allows you to transfer images from the SD card to the My Passport Wireless drive. Unlike the wireless adapters on Wi-fi enabled cameras, you cannot directly transfer images from the SD card to your smart devices. One good thing about the drive is that you can program the drive to copy the SD card content on to the My Passport Wireless with the press of the WPS button. In case you only want to copy selected folders to the WD drive, you can always use the WD My Cloud app.
It is pre-formatted in ExFAT file system, so it will work with both WIndows and Mac OS out of the box. One thing worth noting is that you can only use the WD My Passport Wireless for one function at a time - either to work as a portable external drive or a media streaming drive.
Processor: Intel Core i7-4770K
Motherboard: ASRock Z87M Extreme4
RAM: 2 x 4GB GSkill RipjawsX
OS Drive: Intel SSD, 80GB
Source Drive: Corsair Neutron GTX, 240GB SSD
PSU: Cooler Master 800W Silent Pro Gold
OS: Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
Considering this is a wireless drive, its main function is to be able to stream content smoothly to the clients connected to it. We faced no issues with streaming HD videos, going through pictures on the SD card and so on. The ability to download images from the SD card to the hard drive, on inserting it will be a huge plus point for professional photographers who have to deal with a lost of SD cards. The WD My Passport Wireless promises a battery life of 6 hours, but in our testing, the WD My Passport Wireless lasted around 5 hours while streaming a variety of data. The WD My Cloud app as not as user-friendly as we would have liked and you will take some time getting used to it. Also the default My Cloud app has support for limited file formats, and you will need to have apps such as VLC Media player if you want to play MKV files.
We also tested the USB 3.0 transfer speeds for the drive. Let us start off with the synthetic benchmarks. ATTO benchmark gave an average read speed of 108.45 MB/s and average write speed of 107.37 MB/s. The Crystal Disk Mark 3.0 also gave around 109.1 MB/s and 109 MB/s for sequential read and write speed respectively.
For the real world performance test, we transferred a 10GB single RAR file and a 10GB assorted file to get real life sequential and random file transfer speeds. To simulate a file write we transferred files from the Corsair source drive to the target WD My Passport Wireless drive and vice versa to simulate a file read.
For a single file or sequential read, the WD My Passport Wireless gave 104.33 MB/s and 105.45 MB/s for file write and file read speeds respectively. This is slower than the 133.45 MB/s and 129.71 MB/s scores we got with the Seagate Wireless Plus 2TB drive. Even the WD My Passport Slim 1TB drive is a bit faster at 112MB/s and 113MB/s fore write and read speeds.
When it comes to assorted file transfers, the speed drops under 100 MB/s for file read and write speeds. We got around 79.34 MB/s for assorted file read and 76.8MB/s for assorted file read speeds. This is again lower than the speeds on Seagate Wireless Plus 2TB and WD My Passport Slim 1TB drive.
Verdict and Price in India
WD has come in late to the wireless hard drives party, but with the SD card slot, it does come with an interesting new feature. The My Passport Wireless is priced at Rs 13,000 which comes to around Rs 14.02 per GB. The Seagate Wireless Plus 1 TB is priced around Rs 11,500 and certainly offers a better cost per GB. But with the wireless hard drives, the main USP is smooth streaming of content, in which WD drive works. Apart from getting the hang of the WD My Cloud app in the first couple of usage instances, there weren’t any needling troubles with the drive.
The presence of the SD card slot, makes this drive ideal for professional photographers who are on location, and may want to quickly transfer the content of their SD card. Even for regular users, who want a portable drive to stream content when out on a trip, the SD card slot offers a somewhat similar functionality that those using cameras with the Wi-fi functions. There is no option to compress the pictures before transferring them to your cellphone. Maybe WD can add in a feature on the app which does that, in future updates. The battery life could have been better and the promised time of 6 hours of continuous streaming is definitely to be taken with a pinch of salt.