WD adds SD slot, Wi-Fi to external hard drive

Despite being incredibly useful, portable hard drives are rarely interesting. WD's new My Passport Wireless is different, though. It combines the usual 2.5" mechanical drive and USB 3.0 interface with an SD card slot and robust Wi-Fi connectivity. The SD slot enables photos and videos to be loaded onto the drive without the assistance of a PC. Meanwhile, the Wi-Fi fuels media streaming, remote management, and other goodies.

The MIMO-infused 802.11n connection is rated for up to eight concurrent users or four simultaneous HD video streams. A built-in FTP server accepts uploads from Wi-Fi-equipped cameras, while access-point functionality shares Internet connectivity between multiple devices. Everything is managed remotely through Android and iOS apps or via the usual web interface. The mobile My Cloud software can now stream videos, play music in the background, and search picture galleries, among other things.

The Passport is actually a portable hybrid; its internal hard drive is backed by a "very small amount" of solid-state storage. This flash-based cache can house up to six minutes of HD video, allowing the mechanical platters to spin down to conserve power.

WD says the internal battery is good for six hours of video streaming on a single charge. Standby time clocks in at 20 hours, according to company, and the battery-saving mode is supposed to extend run times by 30%. That mode is limited to a single user, which should be fine for road warriors and the like.

Three versions of the My Passport Wireless are slated to start selling today. The 500GB unit will retail for $129.99, the 1TB for $179.99, and 2TB for $219.99. That's a fair premium over the standard My Passport drives, which start at $60 for 500GB, but it doesn't seem unreasonable given the extra features.

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