. . . This was supposed to be a fun to write and informative review (which I suppose it still is) of a fantastic little gadget, but it has been marred somewhat by an event which I will detail at the end of this article. You have been warned 😦 . . .
. . . Take a look at the specifications of any camera released over the past year or so, and it’s a fair bet that almost all of them will offer one genuinely useful feature – Wireless File Transfer.
Nowadays it’s possible to take a picture with your ‘real’ camera and within minutes, have it shared across the internet or (would be nice), spread across BBC News 24 or a national newspaper.
But where does that leave us owners of ‘older’ cameras, such as the Fuji X-E1, X-Pro1 or X100?
Fret no more and say goodbye to that bulky laptop. Say hello instead to the Kingston Mobilelite G2 Wireless Media Reader, for this device is truly the ‘Swiss Army Knife’ of photography gadgets.
By that, I don’t mean you’ll be able to use it to construct an emergency bivouac, or remove stones from horses hooves. Neither for that matter could you cut your toenails with it. No, this device offers a wealth of features that no mobile photographer should do without, and after using it you’ll wonder how you coped before.
So here we go with a rundown of the features I believe are most useful for the photographer:-
1. Wireless Transfer of Images. The Kingston G2 comes with several ports for connecting various leads and devices, and one of these is an SD Card slot in the side. Simply remove the card from your camera and insert it into the G2. Then via the Mobilelite app (free from the app store but please read the warning at the end) on your smartphone etc, navigate to the images on the card that you’d like to use, and save them to your phone etc. Obviously you are now free to do with them as you please. As an added bonus it works both ways, as you can transfer from your smartphone etc to the card (or USB stick) on the G2.
2. Phone and Camera Charger. Yes, the Mobilelite G2 will charge your smartphone. In fact, such is the capacity of the built in 4640mAh, 3.8v Li-ion battery, that it will fully charge an iPhone 5s two times (from when the G2 is fully charged itself). Battery life of the G2 during ‘normal’ operation, ie. without charging other devices, is a truly useful 13 hours !!!
What’s more, if your camera charges via USB, or you have a portable USB powered charger for your camera’s battery, it will charge that as well. Just how many times have you been shooting and your battery has cried ‘no more’?
3. Mobile WiFi Spot, Bridge and Ethernet Connection. With the built in USB port, it’s a simple matter of plugging in a 3G Dongle (4G not supported) and you and anyone else you share your connection with (configurable WPA2 encryption in-app) can enjoy the internet, email and also share access to whatever file storage medium you have connected to the G2. Rest assured though and as just mentioned, the G2’s ‘signal’ can be WPA2 encrypted via the app, as with any wireless router.
The G2 also acts as a handy WiFi ‘bridge’, meaning it can be used to pickup and boost an existing wireless signal into normally hard-to-reach areas, whilst still being able to access the files on the connected SD Card. In fact, as I write this post, I am currently connected to the Wi-Fi router in my house, through the G2 and into a back room that usually struggles to maintain a signal. At the same time, I can access the pictures stored on the G2 and surf the web for facts regarding the unit.
Finally, there is an Ethernet port for plugging in a cable to create a Wi-Fi Hotspot, if an ethernet cable is available, such as in a Hotel etc.
4. It’s a Card Reader for your PC/Mac. It would seem simple at first but yes, the G2 functions as an SD Card and USB Drive reader (up to 2TB in size). Please forgive my terrible screenshot below.
This function is cunningly useful though. When writing a post for the blog, I can work on the images on the PC, then save them to the G2 and (after switching on the G2) instantly access them from my iPhone for writing on the WordPress app, in the comfort of my own sofa. 🙂 (Please note: It is not possible to access the G2 from your smart-device and use it as a card reader on your PC simultaneously, as the G2 needs to be ‘switched off’ in order to function as a card reader).
5. Store and Watch Many, Many Videos etc . . . This feature is a particular favorite of mine. When I’m away from home and photographing around a town or city, and then later on whilst staying at a campsite in the VW, I like to pass the evenings watching a film or documentary or reading an eBook. However, the storage capacity of the iPhone is fairly limited. How much nicer it would be to carry a larger library of movies, documentaries, eBooks, PDF’s etc?
Well yes, the G2 will store (on an SD card or USB drive) AND stream as much media as your chosen storage device will manage. You’ll have to take my word for it but the picture below shows Alex Lifeson of the band RUSH, in concert and in full HD quality, streamed direct from the G2.
What’s more (and here’s the clever bit) up to 3 simultaneous users can view different movies, books etc at the same time, all without stuttering or interruption. (Please note: Some online reviews claim up to 8 simultaneous users, though Kingston says 3. I haven’t tested this myself, so I’m playing it safe. 🙂 )
There are many other features of this device but I have concentrated on those I feel are most useful to the Street Photographer who spends time away from home and in particular, their computer.
Kingston Mobilelite Wireless readers can be found new and used on eBay UK and often with free delivery in the UK.
And now we come to the bad bit. My cat died a couple of weeks ago, an event that any pet owner dreads but is an inescapable part of life. Problem was that in a moment of deep sorrow, I photographed the little fellow lying in the wooden box I’d made, peacefully ‘asleep’ and comfortably wrapped in a cozy blanket, with his favorite toy mouse and a few cat biscuits, ready for his burial in the back garden (hold on, here’s a tissue).
Now being the considerate chap that I am, I decided to copy the pictures to the G2 and delete them from the phone, so that my wife wouldn’t accidentally stumble upon them and thus avoiding any possible upset.
All was fine until I came to process the pictures for this very review. As had become the norm’, I transferred the images to the G2 so that I could prepare them in Photoshop for the article.
Then out of the blue, the Kingston Mobilelite app claimed that the file names already existed (which they didn’t) and I chose to cancel the transfer. In a flash, the app crashed and as it transpired, wiped the SD card. Yes, the only copies of little kitty lying ‘in state’, were gone forever !!! 😦
With that in mind, I must stress the following. Do not use the Mobilelite app available on the App Store for transferring files to and from the G2. It would appear also that according to the App Store reviews, several other people have experienced the same problem.
I can however highly recommend Filebrowser, also from the App Store but costing £3.99. This app is still able to access the G2 and is also capable of performing many other file management tasks on your phone etc. You will however need to use the Mobilelite app in order to configure the various system options on the G2, such as Wi-Fi and system passwords etc.
It must be stressed though that the Kingston G2 itself is a fantastic bit of kit that performs admirably. Only the atrociously buggy and unreliable app is the unwelcome ‘fly in the ointment’.
There are now several models of Mobilelite Reader to chose from and eBay UK always has a good choice of new or used here.