Buffalo Mini Station Air: wireless storage and streaming

Buffalo Technology are quite well known for their storage offerings; they offer high quality enterprise solutions and chances are, if you’ve found yourself browsing around in store or online for a portable hard drive recently, you will have come across their consumer options as well.

Buffalo products are available in all sorts of ranges, with varying sizes of HDD / SSD to choose from and connections including USB 2.0 & 3.0 and Thunderbolt. Part of their newest range of products is the Mini Station Air: on the outside a standard looking 500GB portable hard drive that is in fact hiding the ability to create its own WiFi network.

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Networked storage devices, and those that can connect to a wireless network, are nothing new, but in being able to produce its own WiFi network, the Mini Station Air allows you to connect your portable devices such as smartphones and tablets to it on the move. Included is a USB 3.0 cable (backwards compatible at slower speeds with USB 2.0) so you can load up the Mini Station Air with content from your home computer – just like a standard portable drive.

Buffalo have produced a Mini Station Air app (currently for Android and iPhone) that will let you browse the files stored on your hard drive – good folder structure and file organisation appears to be key, some reviews have noted that long file names get truncated when viewed on the apps, so dumping thousands of files into the root folder isn’t the best idea if you want to find something quickly later! Images and music files are played within the app, video files get handed to the native video player on the device.

The standard SSID and passkey details are printed on the bottom of the Mini Station Air, which can be changed in the settings later, as to be expected. Another great feature is that you can change the WAN settings to allow the Mini Station Air to connect to another, Internet connected wireless network. This allows for pass through Internet access, so you don’t need to keep switching between two Wi-Fi connections on your smartphone / tablet for Internet / stored files.

Battery life clocks in at about 4 hours of continuous use, which seems reasonable for a device producing its own WiFi network and should last for a few journeys – the unit recharges through USB as well so it shouldn’t be too difficult to keep the power topped up. Mini Station Air also supports up to 8 simultaneous streams (3 in HD), so multiple users can connect and enjoy content at the same time.

As an alternative to cloud based storage, which may not be accessible or stable, especially when travelling in a vehicle, the Mini Station Air is a great solution

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About Josh Bethell

Josh joined Clove part time a few years ago whilst studying Computing at Bournemouth University. Since finishing his studies he has remained at Clove in a full time position, involved in sales, returns and social media.

Involved with both consumer electronics and software since the mid 2000s, keeping up to date with industry developments is as much a hobby as it is a job.

Easy going but never afraid to share an opinion, Josh can often be found in his spare time listening to some heavy rock or at a local gig as well as playing with the latest gadgets and video games.

Comments

  1. Mike Paterson says:

    This is one piece of kit I have seriously been considering adding to my arsenal of storage devices.
    I note as of yet Clove don’t have the Mini Station Air on their product list…. is this something which you are hoping to include Josh?

    Mike

    • To be honest it’s probably just a little too outside of our normal product range to warrant listing on the site Mike, when it comes to storage we tend to draw the line at memory cards.
      I just thought it would be a good post for the blog as it is an interesting bit of kit that has had some decent reviews.
      Even though its a great product I don’t anticipate we would get many orders for it as there are more specialist networking / PC component stores out there, so it would be tough to be competitive on the product.
      That said, if this post generates some interest and we get some enquiries through then it could be worth investigating getting hold of some for a prospective short term listing

      • Mike Paterson says:

        Thanks Josh.
        It is certainly worthy of a Blog mention, it fits in with all our Mobile digital way of life nicely.
        I have a NAS drive which can be accessed whilst out and about but often have found with no 3G coverage, getting to my much needed files can be somewhat of a nightmare.
        Drives like the Mini Station Air are ideal portables when truly one can not rely upon Networks. As such, count me in as an interested party…..

        Mike

  2. Had a MiniStation air since before Xmas 2012, loved the product but the unreliability of it is frustrating, some day could not connect, learned to switch it on 2/3 minutes before trying to access the files. As of today 11th feb can’t connect by wireless only USB, thinks its time to return the item.

    • Mike Paterson says:

      Austin,
      Are you saying it’s built in wireless is not working?
      Have you tried reinstalling the drivers?

      Mike