Storage. It's something you can never have enough of.
Once upon a time large storage was the reserve of those who had converted all their CDs to MP3s or people who had, ahem, backed up their gaming library. Since then we've had the digital revolution with all of us owning devices capable of HD video recording, taking enormous megapixel images and the like. As well as that the prevalence of iTunes and Google Play mean we've all got quite a few HD films taking up drive space. In short, storage is something we all need a lot of, and you can never have too much.
The second part of the digital revolution came in how we accessed our media. We used to have to bring people to our PCs, then we used DVD authoring software with hideous menus to bore people in our lounge, and now we carry around a HD display in our pocket with our phones or tablets. Except of course you can't carry a tablet in your pocket unless you're a clown. Now, we take our holiday photos and that video of Steve being drunk down the pub, down the pub. We use our devices to entertain us on long journeys, to keep us busy whilst we wait for dinner, to tell the world what we really think of that offside decision. Our hands are glued to them. They are our connection to the world that we can keep to hand.
However, those two things haven't exactly met yet. In the tablet world in particular the storage capacity is at best small, and at worst hideously expensive. An 8GB iPad is woefully inadequate, yet a 128GB one apparently has it's flash chips made out of platinum and diamonds judging by the price. The world of the Android is better, but still even the biggest tablet forces you to make decisions about what to store on it. If only there was a way to carry a huge collection of films, songs and pictures around with you, without needing to worry about if this video of granny on the trampoline will fill your device up and cause you to make some tough choices.
Enter the Corsair Voyager Air. A 1TB drive encased in a portable caddy with ethernet, Wifi and USB 3.0 connectivity options. Just put it in your other pocket, and carry all your media with you. Sounds like the perfect solution, so how does it perform? With a MeMO Pad Smart courtesy of ASUS, and our own smartphones at the ready, we set about finding out.
The Voyager Air is available in either red or black, and 500GB or 1TB sizes.
|Max Read (USB 3.0)||120MB/s|
|Max Write (USB 3.0)||119MB/s|
|Contents||Voyager Air Drive|
USB 3.0 Cable
DC Charging Cable
As you'd expect from Corsair the packaging is clear and easy on the eye. A simple specification table on the rear tells you everything you need to know.
Inside everything is nearly packed. Thankfully there is a wide selection of charging options available. You can just charge via a USB port, or with the wall-charger, or if you're on the move via the 12v car charging port.
The speediest charging option is via the DC port on the rear, and a cable is provided for that. There is also a USB 3.0 cable for connecting it as a standard external drive, should you wish.
The drive itself is compact and light. At 380g it is not a featherweight but not exactly heavy either. It's akin to a couple of smartphones, albeit slightly larger. Still you could stick it in a pocket and not feel weighed down by it, which is obviously important in a portable device.
At the rear things are as simple as you'd expect. DC for charging, USB 3.0 for charging/data transfer and an ethernet port for NAS duties.
At the front we have an on/off power switch and a WiFi switch. It's not complicated, but then it's only a drive.
From left to right we have power, battery status, DC power light, and the WiFi indicator. The battery light doesn't indicate that the drive is charging, it just glows from green to yellow to red depending on the level of the battery. The range for the yellow light is so large that it's the one you'll see most often.
So the first of the things to do is get some things on the drive. This can be done wirelessly, or via the ethernet if you want, but it's most likely that you'll want to transfer some files from your weapon of choice. Plugging it in via the USB connection and it appears like any other drive. You can drop the data in any format you choose, so because we're a little detail obsessed here at OC3D (you can't spell OC3D without OCD) we arranged our folders into obvious types. Then it's a simple drag and drop.
ATTO and Crystal Disk Mark
Thanks to the USB 3.0 connection the data transfer is pretty speedy. Corsair claim 120MB/s and 119MB/s for read and write, and although we didn't quite hit those heady heights we saw a very consistent 113MB/s and 112MB/s in both ATTO and Crystal Disk Mark. Certainly a lot faster than your average thumb drive.
Now although you can use the Voyager Air as a standard external drive, or even connect it via the ethernet to your network as a single drive NAS solution, the real party piece is providing wireless connectivity whilst out and about. With the drive on and the wireless turned on, it's picked up as a standard wireless option on your mobile device of choice. We're using an ASUS MeMO Pad Smart tablet running Android Jelly Bean for our review today. Just select the Voyager Air, and you're up and running. You can use SAMBA browser of your choice. However Corsair provide a free app on both the Play Store and iTunes, so let's take a look at that.
So often companies try too hard to make their app a glorious spectacle at the expense of functionality. The Voyager Air app is all function.
In the settings by default you have everything you need to start utilising the drives storage. However, it would be nice to be secure, and nice to have the ability to still connect to the internet. Thankfully the Corsair Voyager Air provides WiFi pass-through functionality so you can keep your internet connection and, with a password, stay safe on even public hotspots. Should you want to stream to multiple devices without worrying about someone accidentally deleting your home movies then you can apply the Edit Lockout, which does exactly what it says on the tin.
Now we're setup the Voyager Air app works just like a file browser. Tap to play, move, copy or delete. It couldn't be easier.
Obviously not everything will be compatible with all media players, especially if you're on the highly restrictive iOS, so it's nice that there is an "Open With" option. Otherwise you'll open with the current default application.
So if you've ever wanted to keep the kids quiet on a long journey or on holiday, this is the perfect solution. Thanks to the large capacity you're not limited to only a couple of films and hoping that you've got the one they want.
ASUS MeMO Pad Smart
We have to thank ASUS for kindly giving us their MeMO Pad Smart to assist in today's review. Based around a quad-core Tegra 3 chip and with a big 10inch screen running Android Jelly Bean, the MeMO Pad is perfect for those who desire an Android tablet that wont break the bank. Thanks to the wide viewing angle IPS screen and stereo sound, it's also just the job for allowing multiple people to watch the same media.
Naturally our testing involved people all over the office, but that's not the easiest thing to get a single photograph of, so although this isn't the natural way we tested the Voyager Air, it at least enables you to see that streaming different media to different devices is well within the capabilities of the Corsair Voyager Air.
Sometimes products try to be too clever, and try to provide too much that you wouldn't necessarily need. The Voyager Air provides the perfect balance of being easy to use, super-simple to get up and running with, and ends up doing things you never quite thought you'd need and yet are delighted to have available.
Initially you could wonder why anyone would want portable storage when there are so many cloud services around. After all, both provide an option to access big files no matter where you are. However, as anyone who doesn't live in a major city will tell you, wireless coverage isn't great and certainly not the speediest of things. The average internet upload speed certainly doesn't match the 112MB/s of the USB 3.0 connection on the Voyager Air. So you can get the data on it quickly. Also whilst we might be old fashioned there is something about a physical copy that can't be bettered by the ethereal nature of the cloud.
The Corsair Voyager app is very good. It would be easy to berate it for a lack of visual flair, but we believe that there is a lot to be said for simplicity and ease of use. Especially when you're dealing with a touch screen you don't want tiny buttons and endless submenus. The app is big, bold, with a small footprint and everything only a touch away. The most complicated thing to set up is the wireless pass-through and that only requires a total of five presses.
So it's easy to get the data on to, quick, simple to use. Adding further gloss is the multitude of ways it can be used. You can use it plugged in via the USB as a standard external drive. You can plug it into your network and use it as a comparably cheap NAS. Or you can use it wirelessly either in your house, or in your pocket or.. anywhere. Battery life is good. From full charge playing films, with wireless pass-through enabled, until the red warning light appeared we timed it at 7 hours 12 minutes. It then took 1 hour 53 minutes with the DC charger to fully charge it again. So it's very likely that your tablet or mobile device will be flat before the drive.
You're not limited to a single connection either. We streamed three 720P videos to three separate devices without any of them becoming jerky or buffering, so it certainly has enough for the average family or outing.
Wireless security is provided by a password in the software, or via a browser if you absolutely refuse to use the supplied app. It's worth noting that if you forget your password the reset is a simple button on the underneath so don't leave it too far from you or anyone with a paperclip can access your data. We'd advise leaving your honeymoon photos and bank details on something more secure. However the password is enough to stop casual passers by from leafing through the drive or borrowing your WiFi.
Sharing media is always a bit of a chore. At home you either spend ages copying to various thumb-drives or setting up sharing folders, and if you're out the house then you're reliant upon the size of the storage on your device, or waiting hours for your item to both up and download. With the Corsair Voyager Air you can use it as your storage at home, then at work, and on the journey inbetween. Yes there is a price-premium when compared to a standard 3.5" 1TB drive, but for that you're getting a good capacity battery, an external drive, a network drive and a wireless drive so you can sit in Costa or Starbucks and watch a film with your latté, as well as a free app that works brilliantly but is optional for those who refuse to use official methods.
We love it, and if you've ever felt limited by the storage capacity of your current device then it ticks all the boxes. Heck you could buy the smallest capacity iPad and use the difference you save to buy the Voyager Air with it's 1TB of storage rather than spend it on a meagre 16GB upgrade. You could dump all your MP3s onto it and never have to rejig the songs on your MP3 player again. You could bring your home stuff to work, keep it in your pocket, and leave no trace of how you actually spend your work day. But we didn't tell you that. A worthy winner of our OC3D Gold Award.
Thanks to Corsair for supplying the Voyager Air 1TB Red for review. Thanks also to ASUS for supplying the MeMO Pad Smart Jelly Bean Tablet to assist in today's review. Discuss your thoughts in the OC3D forums.