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Gear Reviews

Some Initial Thoughts On Western Digital’s New My Passport Wireless

By Anthony Thurston on September 23rd 2014

I first introduced you all to the new Western Digital My Passport Wireless a few weeks back when it was first announced. The new external hard drive stuck out to me specifically as a drive that may fit a need for photographers out on location, so I requested a review unit.


That review unit arrived this week, and while I have not tested the drive extensively as of yet, I do have some initial thoughts to share with you today.

Unboxing & Initial Thoughts

This video was recorded prior to having the opportunity to test the drive much, so as most unboxings will do, this focuses mostly on the build and overall feel of the unit. Keep reading below the video for more detailed information gathered since I’ve had a chance to give the unit a try. 

So, in the day following the recording of that quick unboxing video, I had the opportunity to power up the drive and give it some quick testing. The overall setup experience was pretty painless, just power the device on and connect wireless to setup your privacy settings (so not just anyone can connect to your drive).

Unfortunately, it’s not ready to go right off the bat for on location photographers. The SD slot, out of the box, needs to be initiated to transfer the files from the card to the drive. Luckily, this can be changed so that when a card is placed in the slot it automatically begins transferring the data.


The speed of the transfer (between card and drive) doesn’t appear to be super quick, though maybe not what I would call slow. But the problem is it doesn’t appear to have any indicator as to when the transfer is complete from the device (such as a blinking LED or anything like that). You would have to be connected to the device (via USB or wireless) and viewing the control panel to see the progress of the card transfer. The speed, combined with not being able to easily see the status of the transfer could be an issue, but I will wait until my review to make a final determination on that. Upon further investigation I realized that there is in fact an indicator on the device, but it was rather confusing. The WiFi indicator turns white and blinks while the SD transfer takes place, and then stops when it is complete. I didn’t notice this initially because I assumed it was the indicating that the WiFi was communicating with my mobile device.

One other issue I came across. I seemed to have some problems connecting multiple devices to the drive at the same time; so for example, if my iPad was connected, I had issues connecting with my desktop, and vice versa. I need to do some more investigating on this, because WD claims the drives can handle up to 8 connected devices.


Initial Thoughts Highlights

  • Build quality is solid, but not rugged
  • Power LED changes color depending on power level
  • SD transfer needs to be set to begin automatically, otherwise you must be connected and initiate the transfer.
  • Card transfer speed doesn’t appear to be very quick (more testing needed)
  • Issues connecting multiple devices (more testing needed)
  • Battery does drain when idle (obviously), so it’s important to turn off when not in use to conserve battery.


Overall Initial Impression

Overall, despite some of the annoyances and quirks that I mentioned above. I still think that this drive has a ton of potential for photographer’s purposes. I was impressed with the battery life and the range of the wifi connection, as well as the ease of setup and use, and have really enjoyed using it so far.


I look forward to continuing my review, so stay tuned over the next week or two for my final thoughts. If you are interested in picking up one of these drives to try out on your own, you can pre-order them over on B&H, they start at $179 for the 1TB model and $219 for the 2TB model, and are expected to start shipping next week.

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Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Doug Alkire

    Anthony, in your testing did you time the transfer of say a 32 GB and 64 GB cards? When you say slow are you talking 2 minutes or 20? It would be helpful to understand this so I can plan my transfer accordingly, say during a lunch or on the tour bus between locations. Thanks for your info. It has been very helpful.

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  2. Peter Paul

    Hi Anthony, I see some negative comments about the My Passport Wireless from different customers and some of their complaints are similar. Are you still using this with your day to day activity? Any problems or issues that you have encountered?

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  3. Ken Yee

    How do you request a version for review from WD?

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  4. Will Anlezark

    Is there any way to connect a card reader to this to accept CF ?

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  5. Matthew Saville

    And yeah, it’d be AWESOME if they also made a “rugged” version of this; I’d be willing to pay 50-100% more for such an option!!!


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    • Anthony Thurston

      I agree with this as well. I wasn’t expecting this one to be rugged, but it would be really nice to have one with a more accident proof build for sure.

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  6. Matthew Saville

    How many amps is the charger? (Can it be used to charge phones / tablets etc. as well)

    Also, one of the biggest issues in the past with various backup devices was the ability to confirm that everything was safely backed up, before formatting a memory card in the field. This is why in the past we’ve always been huge fans of devices such as the Hyperdrive, which have a built-in LCD display and various data verification / recovery tools for the highest level of data safety.

    It sounds like, at least to some extent, what WD has done here is offer a smart work-around to this, considering that everyone has a smartphone. I’d LOVE to hear more about how this device enables connectivity to phones / tablets for on-location data safety verification, or if there could even be an iOS / Android etc. app that offers data recovery tools as well. Of course I’d settle for simply being able to view thumbnails for the latest RAW camera formats, though. ;-)


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    • Anthony Thurston

      Yeah, based on my experience so far, at least on the Ipad, no thumbnails can be viewed of the RAW files. So if you want to look at thumbnails on the Ipad you would need to shoot in RAW+JPEG. Viewing thumbnails works, both RAW and JPEG, works fine on my Desktop, so I imagine that is a limitation of the Ipad rather than the app. I havn’t had a chance to test this on my android phone yet, but its on my too do list.

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