66 of 69 people found the following review helpful
on November 13, 2013
What a great little multi-purpose widget.
It's a wireless access point for Wi-Fi devices with no ethernet port (my phones, Macbook Pro)
It's a Wi-Fi repeater, creating its own little subnet of devices, and sharing a wireless connection to the outside world.
It's a portable power supply/phone charger
It's an SD card reader, USB stick reader, or USB disk interface for my android phone, or any other computer attached by wireless or wired connection.
Heck, it's even a USB-SD converter.
It's a NAS device: I can mount its two disks (SD card and USB device) from any computer on my wired or wireless network.
It's fast: as a Wi-Fi access point it easily keeps up with my 25 Mbps cable internet service, and can transfer files from the SD card at > 5 MB/s.
Yeah, it's a media server too.
Can't park your "personal files" SD card in your work laptop because it sticks out? (I'm talking to you Apple!) Just park it in this device - it appears as just another disk on your Mac, plus your phone can see it at the same time.
Want to read a Mac-formatted USB disk on your PC? Just plug it in.
Don't want to mess with registering a half-dozen devices with every new Wi-Fi location? Just let them talk through this, and just change this one's Wi-Fi. All your devices remain in a "home" network, and can talk to each other and to its common disks.
Want to bring along a disk full of files/movies/songs to share or present at a party or meeting? Just bring it and turn it on.
Stuff to be aware of:
- It's got hours of battery life, but I leave it plugged into a USB supply while at my desk.
- It draws more than 500 mA while operating, so your USB supply must provide more than that (they recommend 1A, and provide a 1A 12V car adapter). If you operate it while plugged into your laptop USB jack or a weenie phone charger it will still draw some power from its internal battery, eventually draining it. If off, it will fully charge from any USB source, but it might take a while.
- Give it BOTH an access password and a wireless security password right away - otherwise access is wide open to anyone on wireless or on wired ethernet.
- It's a slippery little bar of soap. It loves to go sliding off onto the floor. Maybe add some rubber feet.
- It runs quite warm for such a small device. I wouldn't go leaving it run in a closed bag.
- It's pretty easy to momentarily bump the "on" button while (say) packing it away, which puts it into "power supply" mode. The Wi-Fi etc. aren't on, so it will last days before draining the battery in this mode, but still something to watch for.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on May 30, 2014
I was looking for a way to watch video files wirelessly on my iPad, without having to purchase a new external hard drive or use my computer to stream the video. As a side note, for those who do want to stream their video from a computer to an iOS device, Air Video works great and is pretty easy to set up.
I researched the various wireless hubs out there, and as I went through them, none satisfied all the requirements I needed, until I came across the MediaShair. In particular, I needed a hub that I could plug a Mac formatted external hard drive into (Mac OS Extended Journaled, to be specific), something nearly all other hubs seem unable to deal with. I was also looking for a hub that could stream large video files (which the MediaShair does with the firmware update), and one that would operate while charging. Since the MediaShair ticked all those boxes, and was a reasonable price to boot, I decided to try it out.
First impressions out of the box were nice, the device is fairly small, and looks nice with the glossy white, although that will make it more prone to small surface scratches. A grippy bottom might have been nice. If you have white Apple devices, it'll fit in nicely. The indicators are mostly useful, although it would be nice to have a better battery remaining indicator, as all the device itself does is have the battery icon turn red when the battery is getting low.
Actually being able to watch my videos is where things got complicated. I'm in my 20s, and consider myself pretty tech savvy, but I'm not necessarily network savvy, and there was quite a bit of frustration in figuring everything out. I can't imagine my much less tech savvy parents figuring out how to use this device on their own. Once I eventually did get everything set up, the MediaShair was perfect for my needs. However, I can see people being frustrated with this device and ultimately not using it or returning it because of the setup difficulties, which is a bit of a shame, so in order to prevent that and hopefully help out anyone who's feeling frustrated and to make things easier for those who are just now purchasing the MediaShair, here's a guide as to what worked for me:
First off, if you're an Android user, things appear to be infinitely easier: download the MediaShair Android app, open app, open files within the app or have the app open the files in your 3rd party Android app of choice. This guide is more for those looking to stream video to an iOS device, but some of the initial setup might be useful for Android users too.
1: Download firmware update, if your MediaShair doesn't come with the most up to date version. This update can be found by going on the support section of the IOGEAR website and searching for MediaShair drivers. The firmware update comes with clear instructions on how to install it, so there shouldn't be any trouble there.
2: Setup your MediaShair. This needs to be done while connected to the MediaShair wireless network, with an internet browser, or using the MediaShair app for your iOS or Android device. To access the setup/settings on a browser, you will need to type in 10.10.10.254 in the address bar. Once you're in, you can set a password for the wireless, as well as put in the information for the wireless connection you use to connect to the internet, so that when you're on the MediaShair network, you still have internet access. An important note if you're connecting through the browser is that the default username and password to access the MediaShair (different than the password you might set for accessing the network) is Username: admin, and a blank password. The full length manual walks you through all this pretty well, and is available in the support section of the IOGEAR website.
3: Actually streaming video. This is where my frustrations started. I plugged my hard drive in, connected to the MediaShair network, and opened the iOS app. The app was easy enough to navigate, if not all that visually pleasant. However, I quickly discovered that the app was unable to play the majority of my video files. As has been noted in previous reviews, this is due to a limitation on Apple's part: the MediaShair iOS app only plays video files that Apple natively supports on iOS, so it won't play files like AVIs and MKVs. One solution would be to convert all your video files into a format that Apple does support on iOS, such as MPEG-4, but if you have a lot of video files, that would be time consuming, processor intensive, as well as fairly tedious. I wanted a better solution.
The MediaShair supports SMB, something that I am not well versed in using, but practically it turned out to be a way to have 3rd party iOS media apps find the MediaShair device on the network and connect to it. There are quite a few iOS apps that can play non native video files, although do keep in mind that it's more of a drain on battery, as it has to convert the file on the fly. This led to the next challenge: finding the right iOS app to use, and where I hope to spare some of you a bit of trouble. I tried connecting to the MediaShair through various 3rd party media players, usually by navigating to a network section of the media player, and typing in 10.10.10.254 under connect to server to access the device, and many spit out errors. Whether this is an issue with the apps or MediaShair, or some combination of both, I cannot speak to.
For a while I used an app called PlayerXtreme, which was able to connect to the device and access the hard drive. It did an ok job playing my video files, but sometimes it would have issues with buffering and lag, or would freeze altogether or suddenly stop being able to access the drive, but I put up with it because it was the best I could find.
Recently, I came across a much nicer app, that works significantly better while connected to the MediaShair. It's called nPlayer, and the developer is Newin Inc. You do have to pay for it, but for a fiver it's worth it if you really want things to go smoothly with you MediaShair. I've played 5+ GB MKV files with it, and it runs very smoothly. The larger files will naturally take longer to initially buffer, but once they're playing, I haven't noticed lag, and I'm running it on an iPad 3. The only caveat I've come across is that there's no support for DTS audio, which some MKV files use, but very few iOS apps do support DTS audio, due to high licensing fees. Files with DTS audio can be converted to a compatible audio type, and a quick Google search shows shows quite a few tutorials for doing so. Besides the ease of use with your MediaShair, there's some other great features in nPlayer, like subtitle support, volume boost, and gestures, so if you choose to download the app, it's worth reading about nPlayer in more detail to learn how to do other neat things with it. Or just play around with the app and you'll probably discover most things on your own. The developers appear to be based out of South Korea, but from what I can tell are very good at supporting and updating the app on a regular basis.
Here's how to setup your MediaShair with nPlayer:
1: Make sure the drive you want to use is plugged in to the MediaShair, and that you're connected to the MediaShair network.
2: Open app, and navigate to the Network tab, from there click the tab that says SMB/CIFS
3: Click "Scan Network", and it should automatically find the device, and show up as IOGEAR
4: Click IOGEAR and your disk volumes will show up. Click a volume, and you'll be presented with an Edit Server box
5: Edit Server will have the address and title filled in, but you will have to put in the username and password. This is not the wireless network password (as I initially thought), but the device username and password, which you use if you access the MediaShair through a brower. If you have not changed it from the defaults, the username will be admin, and there is no password. From there, you're all ready to go, and should be able to navigate through files and folders. If you go back out to the network menu and again click on SMB/CIFS, you'll see IOGEAR listed under Scan Network, and you just click that from then on, with no more need to enter the username or password, unless you choose to set a password lock. If you do turn password lock on, you will have to enter the device password, which is blank as a default. You can change the device password in the 10.10.10.254 browser MediaShair interface. Remember, that password is different than a wireless network password.
Hopefully I've made things much easier for anyone looking to use a MediaShair to stream video to an iOS device. I can't speak much to other aspects, like document viewing or MP3 playing, but I was able to view documents just fine in the official MediaShair app, and nPlayer has a nice music interface. I have not used the MediaShair to upload or download files on to my iOS device, nor have I used it to create a wireless network from a wired one or had multiple people using it as a hub to watch video. The full manual does seem to explain those aspects pretty well, if you are planning on using them. I'm really happy with the device now that I've figured out how to make it do exactly what I wanted, but I deducted a star for all the trouble I had to go through to get there in the first place.
A few other notes:
I keep my MediaShair plugged in, as I am using it at home, but when I did try it out with the just the internal battery, the charge didn't last all that long with my hard drive plugged in. This is to be expected, as the spinning of a hard drive has a detrimental effect on power consumption. If you are traveling with the MediaShair and want to minimize power usage, I'd recommend using SD cards or flash drives. You will probably also be more disappointed about the lack of battery remaining information than I am.
If my hard drive is plugged into the MediaShair for a long period of time without activity, it goes to sleep. I believe this is due to a setting on my hard drive and not the MediaShair, but it's worth noting. When this happens, I have to unplug the drive and replug it in order to get it working again. Again, perhaps better to use a flash drive or SD card, given how much the price per GB has gone down.
Encrypted or password protected drives will not work, as there's no way to enter the username and password information.
If you want unmount your drive, there is a way to do that in the MediaShair app, but it's somewhat hidden. You will need to tap the three vertical dots on the right side of the screen, and there should be an option to eject the drive. Turning the MediaShair device off and unplugging he drive seems to work fine too, and I haven't had disk corruption issues when doing it either way.
In general, if you have any problems with a drive not showing up, you'll want to turn the MediaShair off, unplug the drive, plug it back in and turn the MediaShair back on.
Hope this helps y'all, and I'll try to answer questions anyone might have to best of my ability!
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2014
This device is extremely versatile and easy to set up, and features like samba support and the ability to read the most-used file systems on portable drives, the ability to act as a wireless access point for a wired connection, and a 12-volt/5-volt (@1 amp) car adapter make it a cinch for taking it on-the-go.
Things it does:
-Allows you to take a variety of movies, music, and documents on the go, allowing access by a large number of devices (android and iOS devices, laptops, etc.) via wireless. Your capacity is only limited by the size SD card or portable USB storage you hook up to it.
-Allows you to serve up a wireless access to a wired connection (like, say, the one in your hotel room) that all your wireless devices can use.
-Suvives on battery for hours while serving up wireless access to files, your LAN and the internet (via wireless bridge...it obviously doesn't feature mobile broadband built-in).
-Works in conjunction with IOGEAR's free mediashair app to allow playback of music and video files on your android/iOS portable devices.
-Serves up samba file shares for your truly network-enabled devices. On a rooted android device, provided the right samba support app, this can mean browsing and playback via the device's native apps instead of IOGEAR's mediashair app.
What it doesn't do well:
-It doesn't transcode, so if your device doesn't natively support playback of a given file type (.mkv on iOS devices, for example), you'll want to transcode your files to a compatible format.
-It suffers the same bitrate limitations as other wireless solutions, so playback of large video files can be problematic. You won't be streaming any 25-gig bluray rips, at least not without dropouts, pauses, and other performance issues. Although it supports larger file sizes, staying under the 4.5 gig mark for movies is advisable. This is acceptable, imho, for most portable playback devices, given a decent compression scheme is used.