In an update to my article, Low End Wireless Hard Drive Review: The EMTEC P600, I have been able to discover some of the more intricate features of the wireless hard drive and how it can fit into a variety of “real world” usage cases.
Here are some of the things of note after learning more about it:
- The drive itself serves media using UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) and DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) streaming media protocols
- It seems to be best at home with FAT-32 for the widest variety of compatibility with other devices that it can stream to, but there are limitations to FAT-32 (notably a 4 GB file size limitation)
- Thankfully, the drive can be partitioned and multi-purposed (as a networked drive it can work great for Time Machine backups, for instance)
- The drive is finicky depending on the device that you are streaming to. Other than iOS, Android, OS X, and Windows, I have yet to find a way to cleanly steam to other devices through the device’s respective web browser – and these devices also tend to have problems with the way the EMTEC wireless hard drive creates a local network
Here are some of the devices that I attempted to use the EMTEC P600 with and the results I got when trying to do so:
The PSP came out in late 2005 and boasts a single core 333 MHz CPU. It’s roughly as powerful as the PS2 and should theoretically be able to handle 480p (DVD quality) video, as it can handle 480p video fine from local storage and can play back 480p on the models that support video output. The PSP can also handle UPnP, as this is how LocationFree and RemotePlay works, but due to no DLNA capabilities along with Wi-Fi network and browser limitations, LocationFree seems to be your only workaround for using the EMTEC drive for now (by networking it to another component with video output controlled via Ir via LocationFree). Thankfully, the PSP can take massive amounts of local storage by using a dual micro SD reader adapter for the MemoryStick Pro Duo slot, so let’s move on, calling this one a no-go.
“New” Nintendo 3DS XL
I got one of these for Christmas (the Zelda “Hyrule” special GameStop exclusive model) and was immediately immersed in the excellence of glasses-free 3D that the Nintendo 3DS offered and was excited to see if I could begin loading 3D videos on the EMTEC drive to stream to the golden handheld.
Unfortunately, the Nintendo 3DS also seemed to have limitations in terms of the built-in browser and how things are rendered (not nearly as limiting as the PSP, but still a technical hurdle). The 3DS/3DS XL also requires the EMTEC to actually be connected to the Internet to function, otherwise the “handshake” process won’t work with the local Wi-Fi the EMTEC creates, which sadly defeats the purpose of using devices with the EMTEC as a standalone wireless networked drive. I’ve gotten as far as the login screen to the drive when pointing the P600 to the Internet (both wired and wireless methods), but there must be some Java running within the firmware on the EMTEC drive that doesn’t jive with the 3DS browser and as a result, you can’t navigate through the menus to reach the content. So the 3DS too is sadly a no-go. Thankfully, you can put some beefy micro-SD cards in the “New” 3DS and get around file length limitations with various hacks.
iPhone 3GS/iPad 3rd Generation/iPhone 5C
Not surprisingly, these devices running iOS 6 (3GS, iPad 3rd generation) and iOS 7 (iPhone 5C) handle things perfectly fine due to the dedicated App designed to work with all versions of Apple’s iOS ever released (iOS 4 through the latest release – currently 9.2). Obviously, the more modern hardware in the iPad 3rd generation and the iPhone 5C allow those devices to handle HD video and make 480p content play buttery smooth. The 3GS handles streaming 480p with no issue whatsoever as well, so this was probably one of the more pleasing experiences with the EMTEC drive.
Vizio 32″ E3D320VX
This is my 32″ 3D bedroom TV. The Vizio has both USB ports and it’s own Wi-Fi built-in along with an Android based OS as one of the earlier smart TVs, so although I could theoretically have attempted to use it with the browser, it seemed pointless to not just plug in the drive via USB. The TV’s OS didn’t see the HFS+ partition’s contents, but the FAT-32 contents were readily read and worked flawlessly.
Sony 50″ Bravia KDL-50W800B
This is my current living room set.
12″ 1.5 GHz PowerBook G4
If you try to use any browser on a Mac that doesn’t have DLNA functionality, you will be out of luck in terms of streaming (you will only be able to access the drive through the browser and download content). Fortunately, there are a couple ways around things. The best way around this limitation on PowerPC Macs is to dig out the last known PowerPC version of Xbox media center. When you join the EMTEC drive’s Wi-Fi SSID and configure the drive in XbMC as a media source, you will be happily streaming away with no issues due to Xbmc working as a DLNA client. This solution proved to provide a pleasant viewing experience, as the 1.5 GHz PowerBook has enough processing power to make this a viable, yet nicely portable setup. Both HFS+ and FAT-32 formatted partitions worked fine.
The Vita has the same issues that many other portable devices have – no DLNA client (except in Europe thanks to Sony’s Europe/Asia only Vita Network Media Player App). Everything else works fine and you can access the interface and even download files from the EMTEC to your memory card, but there is no streaming capabilities here in North America until this App is released here.
Short link: http://goo.gl/DxJqtP