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Streaming music and movies to a phone, tablet or laptop from the cloud can come at a hefty cost when on holiday -- due to outrageous roaming charges -- and, thanks to the lack of optical drives on ultrabooks and the lack of memory card expansion on iPhones and iPads, pre-loading devices with multimedia content for keeping the family entertained has never been less straightforward. Therefore a portable hard drive could be the key to bringing your music, films and e-books on holiday with you and to securely backing up holiday photos and videos from digital cameras and smartphones.
Seagate Wireless Plus $199
At 1TB, the Seagate offers enough space for even the biggest music and video collections, and can just about be slipped into a pocket, as long as that pocket measures 12.7cm x 9cm and can handle 256g in weight. Part of that weight comes from its built-in battery that offers up to 10 hours of use before needing to be plugged into a wall socket for recharging.
But as well as its long battery life, it's the device's wireless-streaming capabilities that really impress. Once the app is installed (it's compatible with iOS and Android devices plus Kindle Fire tablets), up to eight different devices -- be they phones, tablets or PCs -- can connect to it at the same time if accessing the same content, or it can stream three different movies to three different devices simultaneously. Ideal for entertaining children with very different tastes on long car, train or even plane journeys.
Wearable Inc AirStash A02 from $100
A comparatively tiny yet no less impressive device, the AirStash is no bigger than a USB thumb drive and can be plugged directly into a USB port for file sharing and battery charging. It can also stream wirelessly to mobile devices via an app or to notebooks and desktops via a web browser and, like the SeaGate, can stream three different media files to three different devices simultaneously.
However, what sets the AirStash apart is that its storage is expandable and removable as it uses SD cards. The latest model is also formatted for SDXC cards which have a capacity of up to 2TB, giving a user potentially twice the capacity of the SeaGate, however, that space comes with a high cost. Although the unit retails for as little as $100 with an 8GB card, a 2TB SDXC card could make the hard drive a thousand times more expensive. However, smaller 16, 32 and 64GB cards are now so inexpensive that a multimedia library could be spread across a number of SD cards.
Freecom Mobile Drive XXS from $99
Available with 500GB or 1TB of internal storage, its makers claim it is the smallest mobile drive in the world. And, at a mere 10.9cm x 7.9cm and 1.3cm thick, Freecom could have a point. As well as a textured black, the drive is also available in a leather finish or in a rough-and-tumble ruggedized version. However, unlike the other drives in the selection, it has no wireless capabilities, instead connecting to a device via USB 3 for backing up and streaming, making its use rather more limited. However, it does have a very neat party trick, it can be plugged directly into a TV with a USB port and used as a video recorder.