Monday, March 18, 2013

D-Link SharePort Go Mobile Companion DIR-506L Review

I had the opportunity to test out the D-Link SharePort Go DIR-506L a few days ago and I thought that I would write my thoughts on the product.

The SharePort Go Mobile Companion is portable and slightly larger than a deck of playing cards. It is powered through USB port (mini-USB) or by battery with the included removable proprietary battery. Included with the unit is a USB cable, the battery, and a very small instructional booklet.

I charged the unit using an AC to mini-USB cable from one of my other devices for a few hours. According to the documentation, it takes ~4 hours to fully charge using the USB cable when attached to the USB port on a computer. Charging it fully via my AC adapter was obviously a lot faster. According to the documentation, the battery lasts for 4 hours on a single charge, however like with all electronic devices this number probably depends on how the device is used.

The unit configures via either a WPS set-up button, by connecting to the device via (either wirelessly or wired), by using an Android/iPhone application. Not being a real fan of WPS since I prefer to configure my wireless devices manually, I configured the device using the free Android application. I also wanted to try it also using the iPhone application but unfortunately, the application only works with iOS 4.3 and above and my iPhone 3GS is still at iOS 4.01. The configuration was straightforward on the free Android application (called QRS Mobile) for basic set-up. The only problem that I experienced was due to the fact that this device's internal IP address matched the internal IP address of my existing wireless router.

Because my home network isn't very straightforward and the very small instructional booklet (Quick Installation Guide) was written for very basic network configurations, I had to download the user manual from the company's website to get some added information about setting up the device as an Access Point. At the same time, I checked to see if there was any firmware updates on the company's website and applied the latest firmware on the device.

Accessing the device's configuration directly via a browser allows for more advanced configuration options. The options available when configuring the SharePort Go Mobile Companion are similar to most advanced router configurations including MAC address filtering, opening network ports, etc.

The company's video below from YouTube outlines some of the features of the device.

I tested to see whether the device would charge my iPhone 3GS and my Android phones (Samsung Nexus-S & LG Nexus-4) and according to the phone display, it was charging without any issues. It was unable to charge my Blackberry Bold 9700 but then again my Blackberry Bold 9700 will sometimes charge using some cables and sometimes it won't charge using the same cable so I'm not sure whether it will charge Blackberry phones. I didn't let the device fully charge my phones, I just looked at the message or icon on the phone to see whether the phone was actually charging.

I tested the device's SharePort capability by plugging in my USB memory stick (with some photos on it) and I was able to watch them without any issues on my Android tablet with the free SharePort Mobile Android application. I also tested it with some MP3 files and didn't have any issues either. Unfortunately, I didn't have any quickly accessible videos in MOV or MP4 to test.

I find the device good and useful but here are my negative comments about the device:
1) Even though I like the fact that the device has a removable/changeable battery, I would have preferred it if the device used standard batteries or batteries used by some other devices (like camera batteries) but then again, the required voltage/amperage probably makes this very difficult.
2) Unlike a laptop which can be powered with an AC adapter without having the battery plugged into it, the device requires the battery in the unit even when it is being charged/powered by an AC adapter (similar to how cellphones behave). For users who don't need a battery powered device, the non-battery powered SharePort DIR-505 might be a better option.
3) Since most cameras use SD memory cards, having an SD/SDHC/SDXC card slot would have been nice (but I basically have a USB SD card reader stick so it isn't really a big deal).
4) Only supports USB devices that are less than 500 GB
5) I find the video file format that the unit supports limiting. However since I believe that the primary market for this device is for users/consumers to share videos taken from their digital cameras, this might not be a big issue for most people.

All in all, even with the negative comments mentioned above, I like the D-Link SharePort Go Mobile Companion DIR-506L device and don't have any issues recommending it for any user who needs the functions of such a device.

If you have any comments/questions regarding this blog entry, please don't hesitate to leave a comment in the comments section below. Please note that the comments are moderated and an comment containing a URL link (whether embedded or not) will automatically be flagged as spam and will not be posted.

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