Product Review: My Passport Wireless – Wi-Fi Mobile Storage – Western Digital

A little while back I received the new My Passport Wireless – Wi-Fi Mobile Storage from Western Digital to try out. The new device with its built-in SD card slot came at a very good time as I completely retired all my older camera models that used the Compact Flash memory cards and moved to the smaller SD card cameras.

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Design and build

Over the last few years I have gotten used to the old and trusted rugged, cool-looking portable Lacie drive in its orange rubber casing looking ready for the high Sierra. However, a hard drive is not a motorcycle and a cool-looking portable drive is not exactly like revving up my Ducati outside the local pub to get the attention of the girls. I am open to try something else. The WD drive seems strong enough in its metallic casing and actually pretty slick. Maybe an all metal casing would be nice but this one actually seems pretty solid.

The most unique feature of the My Passport Wireless is obviously its SD card slot, which is located on the side of the drive. Once configured (super easy) I simply stick the SD card into the slot and it is automatically copied and backed up. A good feature for a photographer on the move. The battery is said to last about 5-6 hours and so it is usually enough if I only turn it on for the back up. The wireless transfer is very fast and I am able to see the images copied to the drive using the WD My Cloud app. I’m very impressed. If you think you might want to have streaming movies (wifi is fast enough) or your music on it you should remember to carry the USB 3.0 cable with you as a 5 hour battery life can prove to be a bit too short.

User Interface

I very much dislike learning new features when getting gear from brands I have not used in the past. I was really hoping this new wireless hard drive will be user friendly and intuitive. Little did I know how friendly it actually is. The drive comes loaded with a ‘Product How to Videos’ folder and user manuals in a multitude of languages. Setting up the network, password and app was a piece of cake and I was using the drive in no time. Great videos! The browser-based dashboard is clear and simple and allows for complete control of the device. Fantastic.

To use the wireless capabilities and control the drive from your iPhone, iPad or any other device, you’ll need to download the WD My Cloud app which is available for IOS and Android. Once installed the app lets you review and customise your drive, see the images uploaded and more. The My Passport has its own network so you can securely navigate your images from your logged in devices.

StorageReview-WD-My-Passport-Wireless-SDHC-CardYes or No?

Here is what I had in mind when I received My Passport Wireless – Wi-Fi. I want to stop traveling with my laptop and only take the iPad mini with me. Very often I do not even work on the images while on assignment. All I need is a good back-up system to bring the images home safely. The SD  slot functionality is a very cool feature but backing up this way means that I import the entire card, including the rejected images. I now regularly use PhotoMechanic while importing and I make an initial selection so that I only need to copy a part of the images from the card. This does not seem to be a valid option here. I’d have to import all the images and do the culling at home. OK, I can live with this maybe. It can prove to be a good option when I’m pressed with time and need to copy the cards of my 2nd shooter and maybe a 3rd photographer. Maybe a future update to the My Cloud app will enable an option to preview the images and make a selection before importing.

Another issue to consider is that Apple devices do not support preview of RAW images. The WD software depends on the internal software of IOS and using the My Cloud app can’t resolve this. If you wish to see the images in the drive you’d have to shoot RAW+JPG which takes more space on the card. I know some photographers who shoot like this anyway so it might not be an issue for all. I actually shoot RAW+JPG on my wifi enabled cameras for this reason alone but will be happy to go back to only RAW one day when Apple enables RAW preview and conversion on the iPhone/iPad.

One other thing I was hoping to be able to do was to import images from the My Passport Wireless device directly to the iPhone. I can see the JPG image on the drive using the My Cloud app but cannot save it to the camera roll. This is something very easy to do when I import directly from the camera using the native Fujifilm or Nikon wireless apps. WesternDigital tech support say that third party software should be able to help but I still did not find the way to do it. No time to look I’m afraid, so if you know a way to do this please share in the comments below.

Pros

  • Equipped SD Card Slot is a great feature
  • Great tutorial videos in a pre-loaded folder on the device
  • Easy-to-use management software and wireless app support
  • Fast and reliable wifi transfer speed

Cons

  • No way to cull images before auto back-up of an inserted SD card
  • Cannot view RAW files on IOS devices
  • Cannot save images from the drive to the IOS camera roll

What’s the bottom line?

Equipped with the  SD card slot and an easy-to-use software, the WD My Passport Wireless is a great addition to the photographers bag of goodies. Having a small and portable 1TB or 2TB hard drive providing reliable wireless functionality with a designated smartphones and tablet support is certainly a move in the right direction. All in all a great experience.

For a more in-depth technical review of the My Passport Wireless – Wi-Fi Mobile Storage device please check out storagereview.com. I think they give a pretty comprehensive overview.
Would love to hear from you in the comments so please do not hesitate to ask or offer further advice.