Review: WD My Passport Wireless Hard Drive

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Ever since I started writing the first edition of The iPad for Photographers, one aspect of the process has been a sticking point: image backup. I know, that sounds like the most boring part of being a photographer, but it’s also vitally important.

Importing photos onto the iPad for review is one option, but it takes up valuable storage (and digital camera files aren’t getting any smaller). That also means you have just one set of image files, unless you use the SD memory cards you originally captured the photos onto as backup (which is also a good idea).

A number of companies have made hard disks that incorporate Wi-Fi radios, primarily as a means of storing lots of media (movies, mostly) and stream them to the iPad and not take up the device’s storage. The Seagate Wireless Plus also added the ability to copy photos from the iPad to the drive, but its implementation is pretty basic and time-consuming: You need to import photos to the iPad, and then copy them to the drive.

All this is lead-up to a new product that makes the whole problem less thorny. The WD My Passport Wireless is a portable, battery-powered hard disk that adds one crucial element: an SD card reader. With this addition, you can dump the contents of a memory card while you’re shooting with another card, then connect to the drive on your iPad and review your work.

The drive is available in two configurations: 1 TB for $175 and 2 TB for $219. (Those are the current prices at Amazon as I write this; clicking either link earns me an affiliate percentage and helps support the work I do.)

My full review at Lynda.com is here: Review: My Passport Wireless for the Traveling Photographer.

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Derrick Story Reviews the WD My Passport Wireless HD

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My colleague Derrick Story got his hands on WD’s new My Passport Wireless hard disk, which he calls “the best new gadget I’ve tested in a while.” The My Passport Wireless includes an SD card, which is the essential ingredient for taking it on location: You can make a copy of your memory card’s photos without having to transfer them to the iPad first.

The drive comes in two configurations: 1 TB for $179 and 2 TB for $219. I’m looking forward to using this on my next photo excursion.

Macworld Reviews the Seagate Wireless Plus

Over at Macworld, Roman Loyola reviewed the Seagate Wireless Plus Wi-Fi hard drive. Although he doesn’t mention this specific purpose, the Wireless Plus finally delivers on the promise of being able to transfer files from the iPad so you can back up the photos you import. See “Seagate Wireless Plus Appears” for more detail. I’ve been using the drive and like it.

Seagate Wireless Plus Appears

Well this is interesting. My iPad app updates today revealed an update to the Seagate Media app, formerly known as the GoFlex Media app. Aside from the name change and a new icon, the app reveals this little nugget:

Upload Photos and Videos Straight from iOS Device (for Wireless Plus)

The Seagate Media app enables you to upload photos and videos from your iOS device to your Seagate Wireless Plus drive in full resolution and quality, perfect for offloading files to free up space on your iOS device or keeping an extra backup copy.

I had high hopes for the Seagate GoFlex Satellite drive, which was originally designed so that you could store lots of high-capacity media (videos and photos) on the drive and wirelessly stream it to an iOS device. You wouldn’t have to use up all of your device’s memory to store that stuff, great for people who own 16 GB iPads. In the book I describe using Photosmith to go the other way: the developers worked with Seagate to transfer photos from the iPad to the GoFlex Satellite. It was a genuinely great way to back up the photos you import into the iPad from cameras.

But there was a problem. It didn’t work reliably. The Photosmith guys ultimately pulled the feature because files were getting corrupted in transit. And if even an occasional file was corrupted, it couldn’t be trusted.

Now, with this news Seagate is introducing a new device: the Seagate Wireless Plus (price not specified yet). The GoFlex Satellite is being renamed to the Seagate Wireless—no “Plus.” That means the new hardware will be able to support wireless media backups, but not the original hardware. I suspected that the problem might be in the Seagate firmware; I’m also disappointed that the company seems uninterested in updating the firmware to make this feature compatible.

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Still, I’ll be ordering a Wireless Plus when it’s available, since having an on-site backup for photos when you’re shooting without a laptop nearby has been the missing link of a good iPad photo workflow.

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