Gadget of the Year 2014: WD 1TB MyPassport Wireless

WD-MyPassport_Wireless

I come across a lot of really cool gadgets all year long. Some are cool just from a technology perspective and others are cool because they’re really really useful. However, when I look back at 2014 there is one gadget that really stands out as cool technology AND really useful. External hard drives are a dime a dozen and pretty much a commodity these days. The cost of storage has really dropped. The capacities have gone up. So what would make an external portable hard drive so special that it’s my pick for Gadget of the Year 2014?

best-gadgets-of-2014

This one has so many uses that I sometimes lose track. The WD 1TB MyPassport Wireless hard drive is a portable hard drive that has built-in WiFi connectivity. This means that not only can you connect to it via USB 3.0, but you can also connect to it from any computer or mobile device even if there is no WiFi hotspot nearby.

Use it wirelessly from your computer(s)

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The MyPassport shows up as a shared volume in Mac OS X.

 

Once the drive has been configured all you have to do is turn the drive on and it can either create its own adhoc wireless network or join an existing one. In either case you can see the drive as a “network volume” directly from your desktop/laptop OS without any special software. You can copy files to it or from it. Up to 8 devices can connect to the WD MyPassport Wireless at one time.

Use it from your iPad, iPhone or Android mobile devices

WD-MyCloud-iOS

Download the WD My Cloud app for your mobile platform (iOS or Android). Join the network that the drive creates or see it on your existing network. Now you have 1TB of extra storage to use on your mobile devices. Want to take a bunch of movies with you on a trip and stream them to your iPad? No problem. Just load up the drive before you leave your home/office and view any compatible videos on the drive. Yes it also works for music and pictures too. No need to copy this media to your mobile device because you can just stream it. Wondering what you’ll do for power on say a plane? No problem the drive has a built-in rechargeable battery so stream away… The iOS App even has AirPlay built-in so that you can stream from the drive and play to an Apple TV or speaker system.

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The Killer Feature: A Built-In SD Card Reader with Auto Import

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While the above features alone make this a pretty cool device, there is one feature that takes it over the top. I get this question all the time: “I’m going on vacation and I don’t want to take my laptop. Is there a device that allows me to backup my photos while I’m out of town?” Until now the options were few and expensive. By putting an SD card reader on this drive it just got a whole lot easier to backup those precious memories on the go. You can either manually import the pictures via the web interface or the App or you can configure the drive to do an “auto import” each time you stick a memory card in. It will copy the entire card (yes even the RAW files and movies) to the hard drive. The drive doesn’t have a display. However, there’s nothing stopping you from viewing your shots on your nice big iPad display or your phablet – WIRELESSLY!

The Bottom Line

This gadget has uses for everyone that I know. If you’re just a regular user needing more storage on the go, you’ve got it. If you’re a photographer this becomes an indispensable tool in your mobile workflow. Western Digital thought of everything on this one. It does everything I would expect it to do as if I had designed it myself.

You can get the WD 1TB MyPassport Wireless drive here.

Better yet, you can get the WD 2TB MyPassport Wireless drive here. <-it’s a better deal!



  • Brian

    Hi Terry:

    We were looking for something like this and it finally has a believable price. I just ordered two of them (2TB model) for Char and I. The extra HS memory cards just make it even a better deal.

    Thanks for the tip. Also now I won’t forget to bring Lou’s memory cards back after the meeting.

  • RudyGr

    Hey Terry – this product sounds really exciting, however, I was reading some of the Amazon reviews saying there are issues with this working with Mac OS X Yosemite. I know you’re a Mac person. Have you experienced any of these problems. I’d love to pick up one of these but want to make sure it will work nicely with my Macs.

    • 100% of my testing was done on Mac OS X Yosemite with no problems. However, you should note that Yosemite has serious WiFi issues in 10.10 and 10.10.1. Hopefully Apple will get these issues resolved in 10.10.2.

  • Merak75

    I just ordered one.
    Awesome review. This will fit my needs just perfectly, thanks.

  • jcdmusing

    Just wondering how much testing you did with the SD card copying ? I took this drive away recently on holidays and found it was extremely slow copying from a SD card, taking more than the battery life of the device (5-6 hours) to copy about 950 x 14 megapixel photos (roughly 5 MB jpgs each). (The card was class 10 in speed). When I got home I found firmware updates available for the drive and applying them reduced the copy time for the 950 photos to about 2.5 hours. I don’t regard 950 photos as a large number for a holiday and a copy of the card on my iMac at home took less than 5 mins.

    Also, the iOS interface is relatively clumsy and it took ages to generate viewable thumbnails. So in theory the device should be great for the travelling photographer but in practise it is considerably lacking. For further reading check out the Gizmodo review of this device :- http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2014/12/mypassport-wireless-review-a-hard-drive-after-photographers-hearts/

    • The first thing I usually do with a new device before testing is do any firmware updates. So I applied the latest firmware before I did any testing. I copied 24MP RAW files and while the speed wasn’t the fastest I’ve ever seen it was acceptable to the point to where I didn’t think to time it.

      The App can use some improvements for sure, but it does work.

      • jcdmusing

        I picked the drive up just before I headed off on a three week trip, didn’t think to update the firmware as the device had only just been released. 🙁 I simply tested it by copying an SD card with 5 or 6 photos (jpegs) and saw that it worked. I would be interested to see how long it takes you to copy even a days worth of photos.

        It also seems to try and copy files it has already copied, i.e. adding one photo to the card (without removing the existing photos) takes just as long to copy as the previous copy. I suspect these problems, including the iOS software can be fixed with updates but at present I couldn’t recommend it to use on the road and away from home.