Review of RavPower FileHub 2

Discussion in 'iPad Accessories for iPAD 1, 2 and 3' started by donka, Apr 24, 2015.

  1. donka

    donka
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    So what exactly is a FileHub? In short, this is a device that serves up the content from a USB drive or SD card via a personal Wifi hotspot. I have the first version of the Filehub from RAVPower but this new model differs in functionality in that it also includes an Ethernet port that can turn a wired connection into a Wi-Fi access point. It also has twice the battery capacity and twice the amount of anything is usually a good thing!

    Included in the box is the unit itself, a micro usb charging cable and user guide. There is no charger included but since any USB charger or port can be used as a power source to charge the internal battery, this is no great hardship.
    This unit is a different design and layout from the first generation however the build quality and portability remain as I would expect. It is well finished and feels very sturdy indeed, no doubt enhanced by the fact the majority of internal space is filled by the lithium polymer battery. While no case is included in the package, I can see this device standing up to regular but careful use.

    This measures in at 98 x 53 x 28 mm and weighs 155g. On the top you have four LEDs indicating battery charge and a further LED for WiFi status. The illuminated power button is also located on the top with a reset button and micro USB port for charging on one side. One end hosts Ethernet and USB ports under a protective rubber cover while the opposite features a full sized SD slot which supports SD, SDHC & SDXC cards.

    The FileHub is powered up by using the power button and takes around 25 seconds to start up and be accessible via Wifi. Given it has to start up its internal router as well as scan the media source and advertise data, I find it to be more than acceptable.

    When the device is ready, you should be able to find it's Wifi signal if you search on your client device. For this review, I am using an iPad but it should work with any Wifi enabled device including tablets, smart phones, laptops etc. When you first connect to this Wifi connection, you will be prompted for a password which is 11111111. Once you have entered this password, it will be stored on your device so subsequent connections should be automatic. Indeed, in my testing, this proved to be the case and no further user involvement was required other than switching between Wifi networks as required. While I would typically get more use of a device like this when travelling, you do have the option of a network pass through or bridge. This means if you are using it at home, you can connect the FileHub to your home Internet connection and connect your device to the FileHub. This way you have access to the content on the FileHub as well as still having full access to the Internet without the need to switch network connections. This would also work just the same in a hotel room if using the Hotel's Wifi Internet connection. If you only have access to a wired connection, the Filehub can use its Ethernet connection to turn this into a Wireless network for convenience or for Wifi only devices such as phones, tablets and ultrabooks.

    Now that you are connected to the FileHub, you need a way of interacting with it and you have a few options. There is a free dedicated app for IOS & Android which lets you browse connected media, playback supported formats, manage content and also some basic configuration of the FileHub. The Filehub Plus app for IOS is universal and is handy depending on how you intend to use your FileHub but not a requirement. One of the primary uses for me is media playback, especially movies when travelling and my collection contains various formats that are not natively supported by IOS and therefore nor by the Filehub app; at least it appears this way. If you encounter such media, you can use the Filehub app to download it to your IOS device instead and then use the 'Open in' feature to open this with a media player that supports the format you are trying to playback. Strangely though, when I tried playing back the likes of a MKV video file, it played back without issue so the app does indeed support addition formats over and above what native iOS does. My personal favourite for thirs party apps though is the universal nPlayer which can connect via uPNP or SMB protocols and either stream or download files from the FileHub. Searching for SMB shares using nPlayer did show up the FileHub however I could not access any files. A quick look at the user guide showed the FileHub using its own IP address of 10.10.10.254 and it has a default admin account labelled 'admin' with no password. Knowing this was some form of authentication issue, I went back to the user guide and saw I could pull up the FileHub's full admin applet using a connected browser. I entered the IP address into the iPad's browser and immediately connected to the admin web server running on the FileHub. From here I could set a password for the default admin account. This web configuration page actually gives you full control over the FileHub and I recommend using this for initial set up. I now went back to nPlayer and connected using this new password. From here on I had full access to the media on the FileHub and could stream and download without any issue. While this issue may be related to how nPlayer works with SMB I would bare this information in mind. If you have issues with a third party application accessing the FileHub over SMB, ensure you use 'admin' as the user and set a password using the web configuration. If you choose to use the DLNA or uPNP protocol instead, there were no such issues however only items in folders served up by the DLNA server on the Filehub could be accessed. Folders for DLNA can be changed or added to using the web server connection when setting up services on the Filehub.

    So how does it perform? To be honest, very well indeed. The most taxing use of this would be to stream video content so I focused my testing on this. I loaded up a 64GB SD card formatted as FAT with a variety of movie files. I repeated the testing with a 64GB USB Drive formatted as FAT. In both instances, a listing of the drive contents was generated in a couple of seconds in the Filehub app and it only took a second or two from clicking on a file to the movie starting to stream. My next test involved a 2TB 2.5" portable USB drive formatted as exFAT. This drive could not been seen by the FIlehub which I didn't expect as this worked fine with the previous Filehub model. I tried an SD card formatted as exFAT and this has the same issue. It appears this time around that exFAT is not supported and the user manual does state only NTFS, FAT and FAT32 are supported. This could be an issue for Mac users who are working with files greater than 2GB as there is no supported file system that is compatible with MAC. I did try another external drive formatted as NTFS with just under a terabyte of movie files in various folders and formats. The listing of this drives contents took around 15 seconds which is perfectly acceptable. I went straight for one of my 10GB 1080p MKV movie files and had no issues streaming in nPlayer after a delay of around 10 seconds. I'll put this delay down to the app building a cache of this larger file but once streaming, playback was perfectly smooth with not a single hiccup in video or audio. The ability to play back a file of this size, problem free, is a testament to the performance of this FileHub.

    I can see as convenient that streaming is however that often I would load up media when going away on vacation for example and only download content to the iPad when I was running out of things to watch - especially if storage space was tight on the client device. In testing this, I found the transfer speed to be around 2.8MB per second using SMB with nPlayer or 4MB per second using uPNP protocol. This means a 700MB movie file would take around 3 minutes to download from the FileHub to the iPad for 'offline' playback. This is just a small wait and a great bonus feature of such a device. It means you can just download movies to your device when required when away travelling instead of loading them all up in advance which means you don't need to buy as high a capacity device in the first place. You also still have the streaming option instead if you do need immediate access to that movie or don't have any local free space but that means you would need to run the Filehub for the duration of the movie instead of just a few minutes to download the file.
    Of course, you are not limited to movie files. You can use the FileHub to store and transfer all kinds of files such as music, photos and documents. You can also do things in reverse and copy files from your client device up to the FileHub. The Filehub app lets you manage the files in its own file system and upload anything to any of the connected drives. The app also gives you access to your camera roll so you can upload photos and videos directly from your IOS device without the need to import them into the Filehub app first. This can be a great tool when on vacation to back up images and video you have taken or to allow you to free up space on your device. This functionality also extends to managing the drives connected to the FileHub so you could copy files from an SD drive to a USB drive or vice versa when out in the field using the IOS device to control proceedings. You essentially have a two drive portable NAS in your pocket and that means others apps such as FileBrowser or GoodReader will also work just fine for retrieving content.

    All this content delivery is great but the FileHub's uses don't stop there. While it runs off its own internal battery, it can share this power via the USB port to other devices if they need a top up when away from the mains. The battery capacity of this device is 6,000mAh which is good for around 10 hours of continuous use which would see you stream five or six standard length movies. Going down the download route instead could see you transfer almost 200 movies between charges depending on media source and file size. I would imagine a 2.5" portable drive with its mechanical spindle would use up more power however meaning a reduced runtime. When not using the FileHub for media sharing, the battery can be used to charge other devices. The iPhone 6 for example has a 1,810mAh capacity battery so could be fully charged three times by the FileHub when out in the field. Unfortunately the much more power hungry retina iPads are a step too far for this emergency power - you would need a dedicated power bank for the larger screened slate.

    So wireless card reader or portable NAS device? However you approach the FileHub, its usefulness cannot be denied. If you are a heavy media user that travels a lot, the RavPower FileHub seems like an essential purchase that would actually more than pay for itself if you upgrade your IOS device just once. I'm a big fan of IOS devices but one criticism I do have is the cost of upgrading from the base model to a higher capacity device; in the case of the iPad it is £60 for each storage jump! For a one off cost of around £45, you have a device that is only limited by the capacity of media connected to it. You can easily hot swap between different SD cards or USB drives and because the SD slot is full sized, you can insert a compatible card that will sit flush and offer a form of semi permanent storage if desired. If you have multiple IOS devices or other family members with similar products, this again seems like such a no brainer - did I mention up to five users can connect to this unit at the same time? The emergency backup battery is just the icing on an already well baked cake. I can find no genuine negatives to stop me whole heartedly recommending this device to road warriors and gadget lovers alike.

    I got this from http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/...&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=455344027&pf_rd_i=468294

    Video review:

     

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  2. giradman

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    Hi again - thanks for the excellent review! :)

    As I may have mentioned previously, I have an old Zuni travel router, which I used earlier this year to setup a wired personal Wi-Fi network in our hotel room - allowed us to use multiple iDevices w/ just one room charge. BUT, I could get a newer brand/model w/ more features, such as the RavPower.

    Now, my old Zuni can also act as a 'Wi-Fi bridge', which would be important to me because some hotel rooms now just have the Wi-Fi choice w/o an ethernet wired option - I was looking at this RavPower model on Amazon USA, which appears to have this function (see attached pic - part of Amazon's description) - is this the same model you are reviewing or just another slightly more expensive option (just $60 USAD) - thanks for any comments. Dave
    .
    Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 10.29.35 AM.png
     
  3. donka

    donka
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  4. giradman

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    Thanks for the link above - indeed, no problem in using in a wireless bridge mode - another question about the charging of the device - the manual mentions 5 v & 1 A - I usually carry a dual AC-USB charger that supplies 5 V & 2 A (for the iPads) - can the unit handle the extra amperage, i.e. are safety electronics built-in as in Apple products like the Mini & iPhone to be used w/ these more powerful chargers? I'll check their website - not a big issue for me since I have a battery pack w/ that output and also an old Apple 5 V & 1 A AC charger. Dave
     
  5. donka

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    Page 110 of the user guide recommends sticking to 1A for charging as higher may cause damage. It seems like it doesn't have the necessary protection although if your charger is a smart charger, it should limit the output to match the RAVPower. As you say, the easiest way is just to stick with the 1A port.
     
  6. giradman

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    Well, I ordered the RAVPower and also sent an email to them - just received the response below - seems like charging w/ the higher wattage is fine - my old Zuni unit had no built-in battery so always needed an AC outlet - this new one just replaces a bunch of other devices that I carry on the road. Dave :)

     
  7. donka

    donka
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    Interesting. Let me know your thoughts on the Filehub 2.
     
  8. giradman

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    Well, the device arrived this morning and having some issues - downloaded (DL) the advanced user's guide and have gone through most of it briefly - also did a DL of the iOS app which is called RAV FileHub (don't see a 'Plus' option?) - once I activate the device and sign into its network (FileHubPlus-1420), I then start up the iPad app and try to look at the hub and is shown the message below despite having both a SD card & USB flash drive attached - I've deleted & re-DL the iPad app w/o any further success - able to connect to the internet via my own home network but would like to just use this as NAS storage on its own personal wireless option?

    Now, I've gone to the browser programs (i.e. 10.10.10.254) on both my MBPro & iPad and can see my attached storage devices and can use the 'Explorer' option to view their contents - BUT, still do not understand the image below? This stuff usually comes to me quickly but I must be missing a point? Any thoughts? Thanks - Dave :)

    .IMG_2747 2.PNG
     
  9. donka

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    Yup, that version of the App cannot see the drive contents. I discovered that issue too as I tried both apps. See if this link works for you.

    FileHub Plus by HooToo.com Inc.
    https://appsto.re/gb/oYk84.i
     
  10. giradman

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    Thanks for the link (emailed RAVPower and was told that I needed the Plus app) - I tried but obviously failed to find that newer version in the App Store, but downloaded and installed fine - I can now easily see my attached storage devices - this device will replace a few others that I carry on the road, such as my AirStash. Dave :)
     

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