RavPower FileHub full review
RavPower's FileHub is an interesting device to get your head around because it has so many uses, which may make it one of the best travel gadgets to carry in your suitcase.
It's also reasonably affordable, currently available from Amazon at £55.99/US$59.99. From 16/08 (09:00 BST) to 25/08 (23:59 BST) Tech Advisor readers can purchase the FileHub at the discounted price of £42.49 using coupon code MDQLZ376.
In its most basic form this is a 6,700mAh power bank with a slow 5W output, which will provide between one- and two full charges for your smartphone, depending on the model. But actually there are cheaper, faster and more compact power banks at this level, so if this is your primary requirement you'll be better served elsewhere. Still, it's a handy function to have when you're away from home.
What's much more interesting about the new FileHub for 2019, which builds on its predecessor with a larger internal battery, faster one-touch backups (12-18MBps), and improved heat management, is its other functionality.
At one end of the device is a rubber flap that conceals the Micro-USB port and full-size USB outlet that are required for powering the FileHub and a connected device. This USB port has an additional purpose, however: you can plug in a portable HDD/SSD or flash drive, adding storage to the FileHub that can then be accessed wirelessly on a phone or tablet or used to back up the contents of an SD card. It supports SD cards up to 256GB in capacity, and USB storage up to 3TB.
The SD slot is full-size, so you'll need an adaptor if you're using microSD (one is not supplied in the box). Operation couldn't be easier: you insert the memory card and tap the dedicated SD > USB button, and all its contents are quickly copied over to the USB drive. You can then clear the SD card and carry on snapping away.
Also under this rubber flap is an ethernet port, which allows you to plug in an internet cable and wirelessly share its connectivity with up to five users. The FileHub can create either a 2.4GHz- or 5GHz network, with you able to switch between the two via the 2.4G/5G button on the side. Not only does this allow those devices to get online, but also to access files stored on connected storage through the companion app.
RavPower recommends pairing with a Google Chromecast, which can pick up the FileHub as a wireless storage drive and play any stored media on the big screen.
The mention of 5G - on the button but also in the row of LED icons across the device's top surface - temporarily threw us, given the recent availability of 5G mobile networks in the UK. Of course it's referring to 5GHz rather than 5G, though it did make us realise the one handy travel function this device lacks: the ability to operate as a Mi-Fi router.
In truth, mobile Wi-Fi functionality would have been more useful than the ability to plug in an ethernet cable - it's not often we have direct access to a hotel's router, for example - but when you consider that FileHub is designed for sharing data an unlimited data connection is going to be more affordable and potentially faster than a mobile connection. Perhaps we'll see the ability to add a SIM in a future model.
The mobile app is reasonably basic and therefore straightforward to use. We found it much easier to manage storage and transfer files within the app than to attempt to send files directly from your phone. It shows you how much storage remains on each drive, provides quick access to Videos, Photos and Music, and shortcuts to photo, contact and SD card backup options.
When used as a travel router we found it very easy to pull out the cable from the back of our home router and insert it into the FileHub. It takes a few moments to establish a network, which will be 2.4GHz unless you specifically select 5GHz, and then once all the LEDs have stopped flashing you can connect to it as you would any other wireless network.
This didn't work when we tried to pull out the ethernet cable from the back of our computer at work, however, which we suspect has something to do with the office network and the fact we're not getting a direct internet connection from the router itself.
The device itself is pleasantly designed, and though it is larger than other power banks of this capacity there is so much more going on here behind the scenes that the extra space is necessary. It remains a compact device, a rectangular matte black plastic box with rounded edges and a LED strip across its belly.
RavPower FileHub: Specs
- Dual-band travel router
- 6,700mAh power bank: 10W Micro-USB input, 5W USB output
- wireless storage: supports 3TB USB drives and 256GB microSD, one-touch SD-to-USB backup, 12-18MBps data transfer