Photo: Illustration: Ellis Hamburger
Bringing a whole stack of DVDs on vacation is a huge pain, but if you have an iPhone or iPad, it’s pretty easy to lug your entire collection with you on the road.We picked out the best ultra-portable hard drives where you can store all your movies, then stream them to your iPhone or iPad using a simple Wi-Fi network the drive creates.
They’re easy to set-up, and all you need on your device is an app to access all your content.
Plus, most of these drives are small enough to fit in your pocket.
Also, with most of these Wi-Fi hard drives, a few people can watch movies streaming from them simultaneously. This means that you can have three kids in the backseat, each with an iPhone, watching the same movie on different screens (if you’re so lucky).
Lastly, these gadgets have built in rechargeable batteries so even if you don’t have a power outlet nearby, you’ll have enough juice for a plane ride or car trip.
The AirStash is ultra-light, only has one button, and lets you decide how much you want to spend on memory.
Th AirStash lets you slip in SD cards up to 32GB in size, which is killer, because you can pick how much memory you want to spend money on. If you have a bunch of SD cards lying around, you can bring tons of media with you.
AirStash has a companion app for accessing your media from an iPhone or iPad, and has great battery life too. Up to 8 people can view documents at the same time using the AirStash, and fewer for movies or music.
Also, since the AirStash has a SD card slot, travelling photographers can pop in their SD cards and view all their photos on the go.
Price: $99.99 (SD card not included)
The GoFlex Satellite isn't small, but it holds tons more storage than some of the other portable solutions.
At 500GB, you can bring along hundreds of movies, but you'll sacrifice size and portability. The GoFlex Satellite has a good 5 hours of battery life, but apparently the software to use the device isn't as good.
Even if the software isn't great and directories are hard to navigate, the GoFlex uses the super fast USB 3.0 to transfer movies and other media.
Unlike the Wi-Drive, the GoFlex doesn't allow you to browse the internet over Wi-Fi while you're connect to the device.
Price: $199.99 (500GB)
The Kingston Wi-Drive is another flash drive to hold all your media. It comes in 16GB and 32GB varieties, with no expandable memory slots.
The Wi-Drive isn't as small as the AirStash, and you have to charge it with a bundled in USB cable (which means you're bringing one more thing around). Up to three people can use the Wi-Drive simultaneously.
Kingston built a decent app for the Wi-Drive which lets you access all your media, and one killer feature is that you can connect to the Wi-Drive via Wi-Fi, but also use the internet via Wi-Fi simultaneously because it has a pass-through data feature.
The Panasonic Pocket Server is kind of like the AirStash, because it reads SD cards, and is kind of like the Wi-Drive, because it's palm-sized.
The device takes SD cards up to 64GB (the AirStash's max is 32GB) and has about 10 hours of battery life, but we don't know much more than that since it was just announced today.
Price: $191.00 (launching in Japan September 15th)
Use AirVideo for iPhone and iPad to stream movies from your home computer over Wi-Fi or over your cell network.
AirVideo won't play videos you've purchased on iTunes, but it will play everything else (it converts incompatible videos on the fly).
To bring your DVDs on the go, you'll need a piece of free software called Handbrake.
Once you've converted your movies to about 1-2 GB per movie, you can either import them into iTunes and sync them to your device, or drag them onto a Wi-Fi hard drive like the ones we mentioned.
Depending on how many movies you have and whether you're using an iPhone (small screen) or iPad (large screen), you can alter compression settings in Handbrake to fit your needs and how many movies you want to bring around.
For example, if you plan to only watch on an iPhone, the quality of a movie compressed to 500 MB could be quite good, but it might look pixelated on an iPad.
Never have to worry about battery life again using a cigarette lighter adaptor that will let you charge your Wi-Drive, AirStash, or GoFlex Satellite on the go.
Get an adaptor with extra ports or a USB port (like this one) to also conserve battery life on your iPhone or iPad.