Verbatim MediaShare Wireless Portable Streaming Device Review

Rating:

With services like Netflix and Crackle, it’s easy enough to stream video to your mobile device when you’re somewhere with a good WiFi signal. But start loading up your smartphone or tablet with enough movies or other video for a long flight or road trip when you’re away from WiFi, and you’ll quickly run out of space—especially if, like Apple’s iPads or Google’s Nexus devices, there’s no MicroSD card slot on your device to add additional storage.

If you frequently find yourself with this frustration, a device like Verbatim’s $69.99 MediaShare may be just what you need. It lets you load up any SD card, flash drive, or portable hard drive with all the media you want, and streams your files to multiple Android or iOS devices wirelessly (via a private WiFi connection) for up to 9 hours with its built-in battery. Kids can even watch multiple shows on different devices at the same time, although Verbatim’s claim of serving up to 5 devices at once is a bit of an overstatement—especially if everyone is attempting to watch video.

In a pinch, the MediaShare’s built-in battery can also be used to charge your phone. And traveling photographers will appreciate the device’s ability to move files off of an SD card without the need for a computer.

If your computing tasks are light, and mostly include Web browsing, document creation, media playback, and email, the Transformer Pad TF103C is a fine device. But if you’re often moving files between Windows PCs or Macs, or you need to do anything more complex than very basic photo editing, you’re better off opting for a more expensive Windows or Mac-based machine. The Intel Atom processor in this system is fine for running most apps, but isn’t nearly as powerful as a Core i3 or Core i5, and Android isn’t as slick as a desktop operating system as Windows or OSX.

Verbatim mediashare

Design and Ports

The Verbatim MediaShare is a plastic-shelled device (black on the top, silver on the bottom) that’s the same general size and weight of a portable hard drive. It’s as easily pocketable as a smartphone and it won’t weigh down your bag. And while a metal shell would look more attractive and durable, the MediaShare feels like it could survive at least a few dings and drops.

One side of the MediaShare hosts an oval power button that’s slightly recessed, to assure the device doesn’t get accidentally powered on when it’s in your pocket or bag. Also on this edge is a Micro USB port that, with the included cable, is used to charge the device via a standard USB port.

Another edge houses the rest of the device’s ports. There’s a full-sized USB port, which is where you’ll plug in your USB hard drive or flash drive. Next to it is a standard SDHX/SDHC card slot, which can also be used to store files, or offload images from a camera. There’s also a pinhole reset button here that can be used should the device lock up, but I never experienced that problem when testing. Four lights on the top of the device indicate battery life, battery level, drive activity, Wi-Fi connection, and whether or not you’re connected to the Internet (more on that in a bit).

verbatim media share - media ports

Setup & App

Before using the MediaShare, you’ll have to grab the MediaShare app from either Android, Amazon, or iOS app stores (sorry, Windows Phone users). Once you have the app, and you’ve plugged an SD card or USB storage drive into the device, you’ll next need to connect the device to your phone or tablet via a WiFi connection. This doesn’t mean you need Internet access to connect the two devices. The MediaShare creates its own WiFi-direct connection, which it uses to pair with your mobile device.

Go to your WiFi settings (the area where you choose which WiFi network to connect to), and look for a network called Verbatim-3E64. Click to connect, and you’ll then have to punch in a password, which is important, otherwise anyone within range would be able to access your files. By default, the network uses a password that’s printed on the bottom of the device. The good news is, once you punch the password in once, it will be stored on your phone or tablet, so you don’t have to enter it again.

After this, you’re finally ready to fire up the MediaShare app and start streaming media from the USB drive or SD card that’s plugged into the device. The app doesn’t do any fancy sorting of whatever images, video, music files, or documents are on your drive. Instead, you’ll have to tap your way through folders, much as you would if accessing content on a laptop or desktop. I didn’t find this much of an annoyance, but it does mean you’ll want to do some sorting of your media collection beforehand, rather than just dragging everything into the root folder. Otherwise, you’ll be left with dozens, hundreds, or thousands of files to scroll through alphabetically.

The MediaShare app definitely isn’t flashy. In fact, the Android version looks like a basic iOS app from a few years ago, complete with a dedicated back button, rather than using the back button on most Android devices. But the app generally works well enough to let you navigate through folders and double-tap on files to load them. It also never crashed once over several days testing it on multiple devices.

One thing to note: Since you need to connect to the device via a WiFi connection, by default, you won’t be able to connect to the Internet when connected to the MediaShare. If there is a separate WiFi connection available where you are, you can tap the Settings button inside the app, and connect to the second WiFi hotspot. This will allow you to log on to the Internet while also being connected to the MediaShare. But I found that some WiFi hotspots didn’t like connecting this way, and so connectivity was unstable, or I couldn’t connect at all. Also, when using the MediaShare on a phone, there doesn’t seem to be a way (or at least an easy way) to stay connected to your cellular data network, as the WiFi connection used to connect to the device automatically disconnects the cellular data network.

Performance & other considerations

First off, if you’re going to be using the MediaShare to serve up media (especially video) to multiple devices, there are several things to consider. First, the app warns you that, for best results when playing back HD video that’s 1080 or greater (greater than 10Mbps), you should “limit streaming to 1 user or copy video to your device.”

Many videos are only 1-2Mbps. So if you’re playing back standard-definition video files, you should be able to use the device to serve media to up to 5 devices at once. But also be aware that the SD card or USB device that’s connected to the device can also be a bottleneck that can lead to stuttering performance. This is especially true if you’re using a low-end (or old) SD card, a USB flash drive or hard drive. If you want to stream video to more than two devices at once, you’ll want to make sure you have a fast USB device connected, or a very fast SD card.

I tested the MediaShare with two Android devices (a Dell Venue 8 tablet and a Samsung Galaxy Note 4) simultaneously, serving up media from a Western Digital My Passport Slim portable hard drive. I noticed no stuttering or audio dropouts when playing back a compressed 1080p movie on the tablet and a 720p video from Rifftrax.com on my smartphone. I did, though, notice that playback on the tablet paused regularly (every 20 seconds or so) when I tried playing back an uncompressed file from a Blu-ray disc. So you’ll probably want to stick to compressed video files that are 1080p or a lesser resolution.

Of course, the MediaShare can also give you access to music files, photos, documents, or any other file that you can open on your tablet or smartphone. And you can also move files from SD cards or USB drives that are plugged into the device to your tablet or smartphone, or vice versa. For photographers, this means you can take the SD card from your camera and copy your pictures onto a USB drive, or move them directly onto your phone or tablet, without the need for a computer. This is handy not only for freeing up space on your SD card, but it also means you can back up your pictures onto another device, so you won’t lose them if your SD card gets lost or damaged.

Verbatim Claims the MediaShare will serve up files for up to 9 hours before it needs to be recharged. I managed to get a little more than 8 hours of use when playing a file onto the Dell tablet from an SD card. But when I was playing back video from my Western Digital portable hard drive, the battery died after just over four hours. The shorter battery life with the hard drive isn’t surprising, considering the MediaShare’s battery has to power the spinning platters in the Western Digital drive, whereas if you use an SD card or USB flash drive, there are no moving parts that need to be powered. As long as you remember that you can also move files (like a 2-hour movie) from the MediaShare onto the device itself, and shut the device off while you’re watching, it should last long enough for medium-range flights and car trips. And because it charges over USB, you can recharge it in the car if you have a car charger with a USB port.

verbatim media share - power and charge ports

Conclusion

While the idea of wireless storage for mobile devices is fairly new, there are plenty of competing devices that offer similar features. But most have built-in storage and are therefore much more expensive than the Verbatim MediaShare. There’s theWD My Passport Wireless, which has a built-in 1TB drive and costs $230. Competing drive maker Seagate sells a similar Wireless Plus drive that’s available in different capacities and is similarly expensive.

If you want to store and share a large amount of media—say dozens of movies and thousands of albums, you may want to consider a wireless device with its own internal drive, especially if you frequently go on long trips with kids. There’s little doubt that having a drive built-in to the device is less cumbersome to carry around than the MediaShare with an external hard drive plugged into it.

But for less-frequent use, or if you’re just looking to save some money and you already have a large-capacity SD card, or USB drive you can use, the MediaShare is a better bet, especially considering it costs much less. It’s also more versatile, since you can plug different drives and SD cards into it. With devices that contain built-in storage, if the drive fails, you’ll have to send it in for service or go buy another drive.

Included in the Box:
Verbatim Media Wireless
Micro USB charging cable
Paper documentation

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Verbatim MediaShare Wireless Portable Streaming Device
Author Rating
4
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Matt Safford

Matt Safford spends his days testing gadgets and writing about technology. He has written for Popular Science, Smithsonian, Consumer Reports, and Wired.

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