Kingston MobileLite: The Ultimate mobile card reader

Tablets are a nearly perfect companion for photographers on the go. They’re a great way to view photos and handle other tasks. Unfortunately the simple act of getting images from your camera to your tablet (or phone) can be a serious hassle. Best case your tablet vendor has a cable-based proprietary system. Worst case, you can’t. Fortunately Kingston has come up with a very clever product that does three things very well – wireless image transfer, additional mobile storage, and emergency battery charging…

Wireless Image Transfer

The Kingston MobileLite doesn’t have any permanent storage, but can accommodate a USB flash drive and an SD card (or microSD with adapter). Coupled with its built-in web server and WiFi interface, you get access to either or both of these storage devices from your mobile phone or tablet. You connect to the MobileLite with Kingston’s free app (available for iOS and Android) and can then browse whatever card or USB drive is attached to it.

I found the app fairly easy to set up, and it worked reliably. You can change the device’s SSID and add security, but each time you make a change you’ll have to disconnect and reconnect from it. Unlike some products, it doesn’t have its own UI for doing the connection, but simply directs you to the standard Android settings.

As with other similar devices, connecting to it as your wireless network of course means you need to disconnect from your normal net. Fortunately, Kingston has provided a clever, if not perfect, workaround for this issue. The device itself can serve as a gateway from your LAN Wireless if you tell it which one to use and how to log in. The solution isn’t perfect because it requires you to reconnect if you change the settings, which would become a little tedious if you are connecting to a lot of different networks.

Additional Mobile Storage

Especially for tablets and phones that don’t have a USB port or microSD card clot (which means most of them), storage is always an issue. Even for devices that support OTG USB (a way to have USB storage over a cable from the microUSB port typically used for charging), adding an OTG cable is clumsy and error prone. With the MobileLite, your storage is only limited by the number of cards and flash drives you can carry to use with it. Your mileage may vary, but in my testing the bandwidth was sufficient to stream movies or use in a way similar to how you would an external USB drive.

You can browse the contents of the MobileLite with KIngston’s free app for Android and iOS, that also lets you copy or move files – either between an SD card and the USB drive or between the device and your phone or tablet. One way to consider using it would be as an inexpensive way to back up photos from SD cards to a larger USB thumb drive. It would be a little more awkward than using a larger unit dedicated to photo backup, but it is small and at $50 from Amazon, inexpensive.

Emergency Battery Charging

It’s not necessarily a reason you’d rush out and buy a MobileLite, but it’s nice that it can also serve as an external battery backup for your phone. It could probably help a bit with your tablet, but the battery is so small you’d need to be in a really dire emergency to use it for that.

Overall, the Kingston MobileLite is a very clever solution to the tricky problem of mobile card reading. The one feature I’d like to see would be an update that allowed seamless integration with other mobile file browsers (I use ES File Explorer on Android, for example), so that I could use it instead of Kingston’s own app to browse. Over time I’m sure we’ll see additional devices in Kingston’s mobile line that combine the benefits of its wireless  Kingston Wi-Drive mobile disk drive with the integrated reader on the Kingston MobileLite, but for now, you can’t beat it for $50.


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