By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
Kingston Technology’s Kingston Digital 5-in-1 Mobile Companion is a very versatile travel companion and I can see it being asked for as an item to put under the Christmas tree. When computer tablet and cell phone users find storage space is tight in their mobile units (especially when some units do not offer a microSD slot), being able to stream data from a centralized router / memory card reader / battery charger / internet hub comes in very handy.
For people who take lots of photos, the need to shuffle information to offline storage is a must. There are plenty of other devices from other manufacturers that do a similar job with matching features, but how it performs is with the file browsing software that’s provided instead of how many charges this device offers. In real world testing, it can fully charge two devices before giving up the ghost. When it has not been used for several months, this device shows it can truly hold its juice and still provide a charge!
While a dream device should have some built-in memory available to use, that alone will not help users who need to plug-in more memory cards to organize their image collections. The MLWG3/64, it’s updated model, addresses this issue but it’s pricier. A great test for these all-in-one’s is to plug-in a USB hub to allow a multi-card reader to connect to this sharing device. Home users may want to connect a portable hard drive to their home network for varied sharing and that’s one beauty that this MobileLite can do with a bit of effort. Hard drives of a terabyte or more take a while for its directory to buffer in the MobileLite’s memory so it can be browsed.
To keep the data safe from prying eyes, Kingston’s MobileLite File Browsing software can be password protected. Enabling this feature is heavily recommended. Also, the device is configurable to connect to the Internet wirelessly or cabled. When using this device in hotels, the latter is preferable since not all hotels offer the same level of usage or protection. This software is a touch buggy (an iPod Touch gen 5 and iPad Mini 2 were used in this testing) when users are configuring wireless internet access for the first time. Once the settings are locked, the performance is nice.
Although this program supports a limited range of files, the option exists to launch it with other programs contained in either an iOS or Android device. Under Android, on a rooted Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (Android 4.4), the process is more streamlined — there’re fewer options to wade through for non-supported file formats to launch.
With the right external programs like VideoLAN (VLC) for video files and Moon+ Reader Pro for EPUB’s and comic book files (.cbz or .cbr), this software is quite versatile to possibly even handle the most demanding of non-supported data that Kingston’s own Mobilelite program can not handle. It even allows users to post pictures to Facebook or send work documents via email.
For this product’s price, some folks may expect it to retail for at least $75. At $29.99 this item is a steal. When compared to other all in ones, this piece of gadgetry does more a rival program, not hardware, can offer. To see what this can do on an operating system level might have Kingston enter the tablet industry to build a device that allows for an even higher integration with its sister products. Only time will tell if that will happen, but for now, these devices make expandability great!
- Has a USB2.0 and SDHC/XC card slot for reading/writing data
- Approx 12 hours of use as a reader
- Supports FAT, FAT32, NTFS, exFAT file systems
- Has a 4640 mAh 3.8v battery
- Higher level features in File Browser are not all that well documented
- The mobile device has a tendency to return to the default network when the MobileLite Network is not in use
- Hard drives are slow to be recognized
- Requires Android 4.2.x or iOS