Vantec NexStar WiFi Hard Drive Dock ReviewWed, May 29, 2013 - 12:00 AM
Usage and Performance
Using the Vantec NexStar WiFi dock is not much different than any other external dock when wired. Simply plug it into the USB 3.0 connector and the drive shows up just like a flash drive would. Access speeds through USB 3.0 is bottle-necked by the USB interface but still speedy as compared to USB 2.0. We used a 6Gbps Crucial M500 SSD in our test to make sure the drive wasn’t the limiting factor. We hit 307MB/s read and 339MB/s write speeds with this docking station and SSD combination, so wired performance is excellent.
Wireless performance will vary widely depending on the connection type, signal strength and paired hardware. The dock operates wirelessly via a Ralink RT5350F 150Mbit per second wireless controller that supports 802.11b/g/n protocols. As such, it’s going to be a lot slower than the USB 3.0 connection with the hardware although plenty enough for streaming content. We had no trouble streaming 1080p video to multiple iOS devices or to a UPnP capable TV.
Wireless connectivity is the real innovation on this devices allowing a myriad of devices to access whatever storage you have plugged in. It supports media playback of H.264, mov, mp4, mpv, 3gp, m4v, aac, mp3, m4a, aif, and wav in addition to graphical jpeg, png, gif, tif, bmp, and tiff files. In effect, it becomes a virtually limitless media server. Best of all, using the free software for Android or iOS, your smartphone or tablet can access the dock as well.
On iOS, there’s additional functionality to support “Open In” functionality for file-types not natively supported which is very nice to have since iOS does not support all file types. Airplay is also supported to stream content and playlists can be created for music within the NexStar WiFi App.
Configuration is simple with settings for WEP/WPA/WPA2 security encryption to keep out leeches. Photos, music, video and data folders exist to keep things organized within the app. Overall, we were really impressed with how easy and robust the NexStar wireless dock was in use. It’s build feels solid and the LED blue ring and operational lights contrasting with the white housing make for an attractive design. This is important as it will likely sit in a conspicuous place. We couldn’t find pricing online but the non-wireless version (NST-D300S3) is $29.39 shipped and the wireless version (NST-D300WS3) has an MSRP of $89.99. It is currently sold-out on Newegg.
Legit Bottom Line: There’s really no reason to purchase a dock that lacks wireless capability with this gem available as it really increases its usefulness by allowing it to expand the storage of a myriad of devices.