Every photographer would love their own personal storage cloud. And in a way, Western Digital is giving that to photographers. The latest entry to their My Passport line is the My Passport Wireless, which is a step below their My Cloud drives. The advantage of the Cloud option is that you can access your images from anywhere as long as the drive is on. But with the My Passport Wireless drive, photographers get a different experience.
Hypothetical situation: you’re with a client, showing them some examples of work that you’ve done for engagement shoots. But they want to see more and you only have around two loaded onto your iPad. Simply boot up your Western Digital My Passport and access any of them that you’d like.
For photographers, security is important–and having your own hybrid of a server, cloud, and hard drive in one is more or less a godsend.
Pros and Cons
– Wireless access to the JPEG photos and movies that you’ve edited and exported
– Built in AdHoc Wifi transmission is really cool and allows you to show off loads of your photos to a client on the most secure database that you have pretty much full control over.
– SD card port is very interesting
– Wish I could create custom folders when the SD card is importing media
– Turning on and off takes a bit of time
– You’ll want to plug it in and charge it after every other use or so
– We wish WD worked closer with camera manufacturers to provide a RAW image reader. But when Google, Apple and Adobe can’t even do it then we can’t hassle them too badly.
We tested the Western Digital My Passport Wireless drive with an Apple MacBook Pro 13 inch, the Nexus 5, Fujifilm X Pro 1, and the Apple iPad Mini Version 1.
Tech specs taken from the B&H Photo listing of the product
The Western Digital My Passport Wireless is a drive that is fairly minimal and doesn’t have any sort of incredibly flashy looks to it. Perhaps this minimal approach will help deter it from thefts. As it is, wireless access of the drive is password protected providing that you set that up upon its first use.
What we really like is the blend of black and silver on the body–which matches perfectly with Apple devices if you’re the type of shooter that bows to our overlord Tim Cook.
The drive has functional lights on it that give you indicators of what it is doing. There is an action light and a Wifi light. When the Wifi light blinks, that means that it is still powering up the Wifi. Similarly, if the action light is blinking that means that a transfer is actively happening.
One of the more publicized features about the drive is its SD card port. Western Digital gives you a fake SD card to shove into the slot and to protect it from dust otherwise. But in truth, you’ll have no real problems putting a normal SD card slot into here as long as you realize that the SD card will be almost flush against the case and a tad difficult to get out unless you’re very accurate.
The My Passport Wireless drive has a fairly standard case for the My Passport line, though it indeed feels a bit more rugged due to the extra components inside. Years ago, one of my biggest gripes with Western Digital hard drives had to do with faulty cases not letting me access my files. Granted, that only happened once. I’ve tried Seagate, other Western Digital drives, and LaCie drives. And despite the fact that I still feel that Western Digital can’t stand up to LaCie and Seagate in terms of build quality and the overall solid feel, they still aren’t a slouch.
As it stands, I haven’t had any other case or drive fail on me and the My Passport Wireless is the exception. Granted, at the publication of this review we haven’t had it for more than a month.
With that said though, it has travelled around with me on the subway and in various camera bags. A nice addition to prevent dust and debris from getting into the drive is the faux SD card that they provide to seal off the SD card port. But for what it’s worth, I wish that Western Digital offered little plastic flaps over each of the ports. To be fair though, at a price of around $180 we’re already getting a fairly robust case with Wifi transmission built in and 1TB of memory. We can’t sit here complaining too much.
Ease of Use
Western Digital doesn’t have very much of a hard copy when it comes to an instruction manual and instead they opt for videos. Indeed, when you load up the drive you’ll have some of the Western Digital tutorial videos loaded up that you can follow along with and pause at your discretion.
The only part that we found a bit annoying was first booting up the Wifi feature. On our Macbook, we needed to access the MyPassport.local website through Safari and it didn’t seem to work in Google Chrome. Perhaps this is an Apple problem. In fact, we’re almost positive that it is.
Otherwise, using the drive is fairly straight forward. You pretty much need to turn it on and watch for the lights to indicate what status it is in. Then when it is on, you can connect to it using the Western Digital My Cloud App (which is free for iOS and Android.) Upon inserting an SD card into the drive, you’ll have the option of importing the images (which you can set to automatically be done too.) If your app is connected, it can show you the status of the import–which is a very nice feature to have.
If you’re in a meeting and want the drive to be booted up soon, consider the fact that it takes around three to five minutes to get warmed up and prepped until you can really start connecting to it and accessing your files. So while that’s happening, try to find a way to keep your potential clients entertained.
While the fact that you can upload images from your camera to the drive directly via an SD card slot is nice, it will only work for certain workflows. Many photographers prefer to upload their images to their drive and edit off of said drive to keep their computer’s hard drive clear. We’re not such a major fan of doing this because we still have to sort the images out in our own custom folders to make them easier for us to search for on the drive afterwards. And again, we wish that custom import folders could be set up upon initiating the import instead of us needing to go back and set those up later.
When the drive is connected to your computer, it will need to lay down flat due to the ports being positioned at the top. For what it’s worth, I really wish that the ports were positioned on the side to allow the drive to stand up on its own.
– Portable server/cloud/hard drive on the go that is completely secure because you set up all your own parameters.
– Wireless accessibility to your images is a really nice feature when out working.
– SD card slot is very innovative, but needs refinement
– Takes a bit too long to start up for our likes.
– Wish that importing would allow you to create custom folders for the importing process
When it comes to working with photographers, Western Digital seems to be paying more and more attention to the needs and wants of a growing community with a plethora of images to manage. The addition of an SD card port is a nice start, but it could indeed be better. Beyond that, the fact that you can carry around your own cloud/drive/server for images is really nice. In the middle of the woods, I’d be able to access my images for review as long as they’re converted to JPEGs. The applications are really limitless, and for once, we think that this is a drive that you’ll always want to have plugged into your computer and tote along with you as you work due to its pure versatility.
We award the Western Digital My Passport Wireless 4 out of 5 stars. Want one? Check out B&H Photo’s listing for around $179.99 at the time of publishing this review.