Guest review by Jim Barr
IOGEAR’s MediaShair Wireless Media Hub does a little bit of everything in a compact package that is great on the go, making it the Road Warrior’s version of a Swiss Army Knife. The hardest part of doing this review was figuring out exactly what it does. Visiting the website and reading the box about the MediaShair’s versatility made my head hurt. Finally, I decided to just plug it in and give it a try.
What does MediaShair do?
- It’s a travel-sized, battery powered WiFi router.
- It’s a spare battery for charging your cell phone.
- It’s a media server with USB and SD slots that allow you to share the contents of your camera’s memory card, USB stick or external hard drive with a group of people.
- It works with its own mobile app to view the shared files on iOS and Android platforms. Laptops can access the files via a web-server or Samba sharing.
- It even does WiFi to WiFi bridging.
- Even if you never travel, it’s a wireless or wired media server that converts your USB hard drive to a network share drive.
The unit is about the size of a deck of cards, all-white with soft rounded edges and a glossy finish. It charges via a MicroUSB charging cable, something many of us already have in our laptop bags. It also comes with a cigarette lighter adapter for use in the car.
The unit can be configured via a built-in web server where you can configure the WiFi router’s SSID and security settings, change passwords, view system status, and manage the unit’s connections to the internet. Don’t worry if that last sentence tested your tech savvy and I lost you! Keep reading!
Practical Uses of MediaShair
I put some shared content onto a USB stick and then explored the various ways I could access that media from remote devices. The best way to explain the capabilities of this product is to run through different scenarios of how it can be used.
1. Share photos across devices. You’re on your family vacation and you put the memory card from your family’s “good camera” into the unit. Everyone in the family can connect to the MediaShair’s WiFi to download the photos to their iPhones, Android devices, and personal laptops. This prevents passing the SD card or plugging in cables since the hotel room on a family vacation can look like a hideout for a gang that’s just robbed BestBuy with spaghetti-like cables strewn about, connecting everyone’s laptops, tablets, phones, iPods, and cameras.
2. Use it as a travel WiFi router when on vacation. You’re staying at a hotel with crappy WiFi or a hotel that has free wired access but charges for WiFi. The MediaShair hub can plug into the single Ethernet port in the hotel room to serve as a travel WiFi router for your family’s collection of devices.
3. Charge your phone when your battery is dead. Yes, really. The MediaShair hub will charge your phone.
4. Install the MediaShair hub in your house and hook-up a massive 4TB hard drive to share movies, photos, and media, allowing everyone in your family to access the shared files. This could be done wirelessly or through the wired Ethernet port.
5. The MediaShare device can be a Media Server inside your car especially since it can be powered through the cigarette lighter adapter. Since Apple devices don’t have expandable SD or microSD slots, your kids’ movie viewing on their iPads or iPods is limited to their internal storage on the device. MediaShair allows you to avoid this problem. This also works for Android tablets and phones and is particularly useful for devices without expandable storage like Kindle.
Load up a USB stick with 32GB of videos, plug the stick into the MediaShair hub, and now the kids can watch movies via WiFi from an on-board media server in your car. MediaShair can also be used on the airplane as long as the battery lasted or if you happen to luck out and be on a flight with outlets.
6. Use it as an in-flight media server. The latest trend with the airlines is to remove their seat-back inflight entertainment systems on domestic routes. United Airlines is completely removing seat-back screens and switching to a WiFi-based system with an on-board media server for passengers to stream movies. You can do the same thing on your flight with your content using MediaShair.
The WiFi bridging function works well, but appears incompatible with high-end WiFi systems that dynamically change channels. It doesn’t appear to listen to 802.11h channel change announcements. For home use and in the car or on the plane, this won’t cause a problem. But if you’re trying to use the hub as a way to connect 5 devices wirelessly to a hotel’s WiFi that charges per-connection, you may get constantly kicked off the WiFi network.
The MediaShair Wireless Media Hub works as a versatile travel WiFi router, file server, and phone charger. Retail price is $99.99 but it’s under $55 on Amazon.
Win your own MediaShair Hub from IOGEAR!
IOGEAR is providing one lucky reader with their own MediaShair Hub for personal use or gift giving. Enter via the Rafflecopter below and good luck!
I received an IOGear MediaShair for review purposes. No compensation was received for this post or hosting this giveaway. All opinions are my own. Amazon Affiliate links are included in this post.