For the Gauntlet 320, available to the user is 298GB of space which is a very reasonable allocation for storage of media accessible on the go. Of course, there’s always the opportunity of upgrading the drive inside the Gauntlet housing which is one of the perks of this device over some others.
Using the Gauntlet is simple. Plug it into a USB port and it shows up like any other external drive. Note that the Gauntlet doesn’t automatically power on when connected so you must turn it on for the host to be able to see the drive. I forgot this several times and sat waiting for Windows to see the drive before I realized my error. It’s also important to noth that when the drive is connected via USB, the wireless functionality ceases. Once connected, you can simply then drag and drop your files to the drive just like any other connected drive. You can also upload files wirelessly but it’s slower and you can’t run it as a background task, effectively tying up your device until it completes.
Setting up the wireless network is simple and be sure to change your password! The Gauntlet supports wireless pass-through so you don’t have to switch networks to surf the web or pull up email but it will potentially cut your bandwidth some and is only possible with 2.4GHz networks. The lithium-ion battery life seemed to vary and but we found for a single device running video from the Gauntlet yielded just over 4.5 hours of run time. Plenty for a few movies but won’t match the battery life of most tablets. With the unit on and not transitting, the battery lasted six hours which is more than the rated 5.5 hours specification. Battery life is a tradeoff between portability with the size and weight and battery life. Honestly, I’d take a smaller device and less battery life but everyone’s needs are different. Popping in an SSD will certainly add to the battery life but will certainly add cost and likely diminish capacity. You need to stay relatively close by (within 20ft or so) to maintain a reliable connection. As mentioned, just about any device running iOS (4.2 or higher), Android (phone v2.3 or higher, tablet v3.0 or higher) or Kindle Fire is fair game to use with the Gauntlet.
The configuration user interface is virtually dummy-proof and intuitive. There are settings for the photo slideshow along with the pertinent network and wireless settings. Anything on the 2.4GHz 802.11 b/g/n spectrum is in play and various levels of network security can be implemented with WEP/WPA-PSK/WPA2-PSK protocols. It’s highly recommended that you leverage these along with changing the SSID broadcast name.
For the bare drive alone, you can see that read and write performance tops out at around 94MB/s so the SATA II interface is in no way a bottleneck. This is plenty fast for it intended purpose and moving to a 7200RPM drive will only suck down more battery life. As far as the device performance goes, per the specifications eight devices can be connected wirelessly at once, but only up to five playing video at 720p. We were able to confirm this with playback across five devices simultaneously (2 iPads, 1 iPad Mini, 2 iPhones) from a 720p resolution .m4v file without so much as a hiccup. We could even play the same movie with each device at a different spot in the movie without any problem at all so that was pretty impressive. Photos and files also opened quickly without fuss. Overall, we had no complaints about the performance, user interface or overall design of the Gauntlet 320 in general. However, we all know how fragile spinning platter drives can be, especially on small devices that get tossed in bags and such. Near the end of testing we starting hearing loud clicking sounds coming from the drive at various intervals which usually signifies a near death state for the drive. This is a little concerning since we really didn’t carry it around anywhere that it could get jostled or bumped – especially while in use. It’s still ticking along though (pun intended) so maybe it will be ok. The other downer is it doesn’t really appear that the lithium-ion battery is replaceable, so for long term usage that could impact some buyers. For around $129.99, it’s priced appropriately for what you get and there are currently few peers in the market space which should serve Patriot well.
Legit Bottom Line: The Patriot Gauntlet 320 is a handy way to carry around a sizeable media library to share with up to eight devices simultaneously and can save consumers from paying for expensive tablet storage upgrades.