Multiple Streaming & Storage 

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In the past I have checked out various products designed to allow the streaming of media content to various smartphone and tablet devices. One feature that these products, from companies such as Kingston, Verbatim and PNY, had in common was that the user needed to provide the storage for the media being streamed. However this next media streaming product comes with its own storage. This is the Buffalo MiniStation Air or is it version 2?

Buffalo MiniStation Air 2 500GB External Hard Drive
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Let me explain why there was some initial confusion regarding this particular product.  While I had requested to review the new version of the product, entitled MiniStation Air 2, the package that arrived from Buffalo indicated that I had been sent the version of the product launched last year.  Yet opening the box revealed a sheet of illustrated instructions referring to the MiniStation Air 2 and the unit’s appearance was that of the version 2 of the product.  It eventually turned out that my sample was version2 of the MiniStation Air product.

Versions of the MiniStation Air are available in 500GB and 1TB capacities.  This review is based on the 500GB model which Buffalo feels show be able to hold 215,000 pictures, 200+ HD movies or 115,000 songs which is far more than the media I have at my disposal.

This MiniStation Air unit is decked out in a combination of matte silver and grey.  The slab shaped box, with rounded corners, has dimensions of 84 x 145 x 18mm (W x H x D) and weighs 265g which makes it eminently portable for carrying your multimedia library on your travels.  Positioned on the top on the unit are connection options for mains power when charging the internal battery feature plus a USB 3.0 port than comes into its own when adding content to the unit’s hard drive.  Also on the top is a recessed button for activating the MiniStation Air’s WiFi feature.  Positioned in the top left corner of the front face is another recessed button, this time for power on/off, and LED lights to indicate elements such as WiFi activity, battery and power.

As mentioned there is a USB 3.0 port that can be used to add content to the MiniStation Air via a supplied USB 3.0 lead.  Once the MiniStation Air has been connected to a computer then the content can be transferred using the operating system’s standard conventions such as copy & paste or Send To.

You will need to download the free MiniStation Air app to those devices that will be used to receive the streamed data from the Buffalo product.  There are apps for the original MiniStation Air and the latter version of the product.  I downloaded the MiniStation Air 2 app on a couple of smartphones.

In order for the receiving device to connect to the MiniStation Air, it needs to connect to the Buffalo device’s WiFi network rather than the home network.  My first attempt at making this connection resulted in a message stating that a firmware update was required and this would involve restarting both the MiniStation Air and the smartphone.  Although slightly time consuming, the process was automatic.  I could then restart the pairing process which involved the entry of a 13-character alphanumeric key located on the rear of the MiniStation Air unit.

Following this successful pairing, I then tried to pair the second smartphone but this produced an authentication issue.  Removing the app, downloading and then installing it again solved the problem.  Other devices were then added to the MiniStation Air’s WiFi network without any further issues.  You can add up to eight devices to this network with Buffalo claiming that three of them can simultaneously receiving HD content.

The MiniStation Air app presents an interface that gives you the option of switching between content stored locally on the mobile device or the MiniStation Air plus carry out settings adjustments that include the type of slideshow used for displaying photos, power saving Eco, Balanced or Do not sleep options and select an access point for an Internet connection.

When displaying content, the multimedia is categorised as Pictures, Music and Videos.  There is support for a wide range of media formats (see table).  It is an easy matter to select the content that will be streamed to the smartphone or tablet.  This content can be of different types and can include any mixture of photos, music and HD video which will be streamed simultaneously.

MiniStation Air Supported File Formats
Content TypeSupported Formats
Music MP3, WMA, WAV, 3GP, M4A, MP4, LPCM, Org Vorbis, FLAC, MP2, AC3, MPA, AIF, MID, ISMA

While Buffalo has recommended that you should stick to a limit of streaming content to just three of the permitted eight connected devices, I decided to push this limit a little.  I found that it was possible to stream different videos to four devices (three smartphones and one tablet running various versions of Android) without any noticeable issues.

The MiniStation Air has an internal rechargeable 3020mAh battery which is capable of providing 12 hours of streaming from a single charge.  The actual streaming period will depend upon the type of content and the number of devices which are receiving the data.  You also have the option of using the MiniStation Air to charge a smartphone.

Although a little fiddly with the initial pairing of the individual devices, this Buffalo product performed well with regards to streaming content to various mobile devices.  The MiniStation Air comes with a three year warranty.  Currently has the 500GB version of this product listed at £82.08.

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OverallBuffalo MiniStation Air 2 rated 84 out of 100

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