Walker’s Tools: A Preview of Kingston’s MobileLite Wireless G2

This could become the mobile photographer’s Swiss army knife. Kingston Technology’s diminutive and featherweight MobileLite Wireless G2 does a whole bunch of useful things for the road warrior.

Let’s go through the list:

  1. It has a 4640 mAh battery that will provide up to two complete recharges of my iPhone 5.
  2. SD cards can be quickly and easily backed up to USB flash drives.
  3. Images can be wirelessly imported to an iPad for editing and uploading to, say, a blog post on WalkClickMake.
  4. If you run into a hotel that only has a ‘wired’ ethernet connection to the internet (yes, they still exist!), the MobileLite will act as a wireless hotspot for iPads and iPhones.

All this with a device that fits in my palm and weighs in at measly 171 grams! And costs a mere $56.00 Canadian.

Here’s how I will use it on an upcoming trip.

My wife and I will be walking the 1,100-kilometre  88-Temple pilgrimage on the island of Shikoku in Japan. I plan to be live-blogging to WalkClickMake as we go. But weight and size are absolutely critical as everything will be carried on our backs. So camera equipment and the electronics that will allow me to edit photos and post to my blog must be as light and as small as possible. I will be using the new Olympus OM-D EM-5 Mark II with the Olympus 14-42 lens to take pictures. The iPad Mini 2 will be used to edit photos (primarily with Lightroom Mobile but also using Snapseed for its perspective control), to write blog text in Pages and to prepare blog posts using Blogsy.

The MobileLite adds a whole new layer of functionality to my work flow. Most important, it will allow me to backup my photos. On previous long walks (the Camino de Santiago and the Prague-Vienna Greenway) I dangerously had to work without a net. There is no practical way to backup SD cards using an iPad but the added weight of a laptop and hard drive would be too painful. On those trips, I relied on carefully guarding the original camera SD cards and forgoing any backup.

The MobileLite changes that. Now I can insert my SD card into the device, insert a 64 GB flash drive into the unit’s USB port and copy the day’s photos to the USB drive. Based on my rate of taking photos on previous walking trips, I should be able to backup all of my Japan photos (RAW format) to three 64GB drives that weigh, in total, 30 grams!

MobileLite creates a wireless connection to an iPad or iPhone or Android device. It’s an easy connection process. Press and hold the power button on the MobileLite for a few seconds and give it a few more seconds for the blue Wi-Fi light to come on . Then go to Settings>Wi-Fi on your iPad, find the MobileLite network and touch to make it active.

Next, open the MobileLite app that you downloaded from the App Store. It will automatically connect to the MobileLite unit (you can change the name of the network, and password protect it in the app). Insert an SD card and a USB flash drive and they will shortly appear on your iPad. From here, you can dive into the MobileLite app to copy and move files between cards and flash drives. For example, I will select the day’s images from my SD card, select a destination (my flash drive), make and/or choose a folder and then touch “Copy”. The transfer is quickly done.

The only downside is that unless you are copying all the photos on your SD card – in which case “Select All” button can be pressed – each picture must be selected individually. Realistically, a 64 GB card is bound to contain many days worth of photos so the “Select All” shortcut will not work. Believe me, it is a slow, mind-numbing process to select some 200 photos one-by-one. If you capture RAW+JPEG, as I do, then heaven help you. My strategy will be to copy only my RAW images. The only reason I capture JPEGs is to import them to my iPad for blog purposes (the iPad cannot import RAW files).

While the SD card is still inserted, I select the JPEGs I will need for my blog and import them to my iPad’s Camera Roll. This happens wirelessly over the MobileLite network. Yes, I could use an Apple Lightning-to-SD Card Camera Reader but the preview images are tiny, tiny, tiny. Or I could use the Wi-Fi built into my new Olympus camera body. But the previews are still reasonably small. By comparison, the MobileLite preview images are as big as the iPad screen is, a much better way to assess image quality before importing.

It is almost a bonus that the MobileLite will also charge an iPhone. I always carry a spare battery on long walks and I always need it to recharge the phone at least once on a day-long walk.

And I have noticed that a number of Japanese hotels only have wired internet in the rooms. The MobileLite may come to the rescue yet again.

The total weight of my image backup/editing/blogging machine is 690 grams. That includes the MobileLite G2, about 200 GB worth of ‘solid state backup drives’ (USB flash drives) and an iPad Mini 2 with its super-protective, waterproof Nuud shell by Lifeproof.

I will be putting the MobileLite to the test in Japan. Hopefully it works as well as I think it will. Regardless, this coming winter I will follow-up with a field-tested report on WalkClickMake. Stay tuned!

 

 

Complete image storage, image backup, image editing package.

Complete image storage, image backup, image editing package.

From top: mini USB for charging the MobileLite; reset button; power button; bridged internet light; Wi-Fi light; power/battery status light.

From top: mini USB for charging the MobileLite; reset button; power button; bridged internet light; Wi-Fi light; power/battery status light.

Interface for copying images from SD card to USB drive.

Interface for copying images from SD card to USB drive.

MobileLite with USB drive and SD card (in slot on right side). iPad Minii shows a large preview image from SD card.

MobileLite with USB drive and SD card (in slot on right side). iPad Minii shows a large preview image from SD card.

Charging my iPhone.

Charging my iPhone.

Ethernet connection for 'wired' internet.

Ethernet connection for ‘wired’ internet.

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