If Jerry Seinfield worked at Maximum PC reviewing overpriced gadgets, we’re pretty sure he’d be saying: “And what’s the deal with getting charged so much for so little RAM? You know, the 16GB version of the HTC Galaxy 5s costs $199 but the 32GB costs $299? And, what? No expansion slot for additional RAM?”
The Node lets you carry all the video and photos you need—if you have the drive for it
Well, Jerry, consider the Patriot Gauntlet Node, a Wi-Fi media streamer-cum-hard drive. The Patriot’s Node doesn’t break new ground. Plenty of mass-storage-based Wi-Fi products have been on the market. One we were particular smitten over was Kingston’s 64GB Wi-Drive that offers similar functionality.
While we liked the Wi-Drive’s svelte size, a $115-ish street price is a lot cash for just 64GB of storage.
Patriot’s approach is to decouple storage from the device. So what you get is the equivalent of your typical 2.5-inch hard drive enclosure with integrated Wi-Fi and NAS support. More on this later. Inside the Node you can install most any laptop hard drive. We installed a 9.5mm 500GB drive easily and it’s possible a bigger drive could fit but we didn’t have one to try out. Patriot says a 2TB drive will fit but it would be a tight fit considering that notebook drives that big are 15mm in height. Drives at 1TB are easily found online for under $90, though, and those are 9.5mm.
The device has two ports: a USB 3.0 Micro USB port and a power port. The devices ships with a typical 2-amp USB charger but it connects to a standard round plug rather than charging through the device’s USB port. Why? Kramer!
Copying your files to the drive is a snap. Just plug it in an available USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 port and copy your movies, images, music, and documents to it at will. What’s really nice is the speed. Our main complaint about Kingston’s Wi-Drive was write speed. It was pretty damned slow. With the Patriot Node, you’re writing at the limit of the HDD you have in it.
To access the files, you install a free app from the respective app market and you browse the contents of the drive. We used an Android phone with 2.3 “Gingerbread” loaded on it and had no issues playing numerous video files. Android lets you pick your video player of choice so you may have to install an additional player if the vid you’re trying to watch is funky. Perhaps even niftier, the Patriot Node not only lets you read files, but write to it as well, so if you want to back up your docs file, it’s a snap. It would be nice if Patriot had a specific backup app that would let you automate the backup once.
What were not fans of, however, is the lack of default encryption on the Wi-Fi. You can select from WEP to WPA and WPA2. Anyone with the app on their phone, or a laptop connecting to the default IP address of the device, could start slurping content from your drive—or uploading files to it without you knowing, or hijack the device, since the user account of admin has a password of “admin.” Not good.
Our other complaint is the build quality. The device is made of plastic and feels like it won’t survive a fall to the floor. The battery life on the device is so-so, as well. With its 3,350mAh Li-Ion battery, we saw just over three hours of video playback before it went dry. That’s not bad, but not great. Considering that the battery has to keep the drive spun up while serving video, it’s probably acceptable.
Basically there’s a lot right with the Patriot Node, and a few things wrong. Given the Node’s ability to provide a never-ending supply of digital content for your mobile devices, and the speed at which you can load it on there, we think the good wins out.