Corsair Voyager Air review

The Corsair Voyager Air is one of the most flexible hard drives on the market, with both Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity.
Photo of Corsair Voyager Air

The Corsair Voyager Air ($219.99 list) is a sharable hard drive that works over both wireless and wired networks. It’s one of the most flexible on the market, with Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity. You can use it to serve your digital life (photos, music, videos) to tablets, phones, and laptops both on the road and at home. The drive has a lot of potential and capabilities, but a few version 1.0 stumbles keep it from being the perfect sharable drive.

Design and Features
The Voyager Air is a notebook-class hard drive with a whole lot of networking built in. As such it is a bit larger than the usual pocket drive, but it will still fit nicely into your commute bag. The 1TB model we reviewed comes in a red paint finish on the top and sides, with a black front, back, and bottom panels. An all-black model is an option at both 500GB and 1TB capacities. The drive has two switches on the front for power and Wi-Fi, while the back has a power jack for the included power cables, USB 3.0 jack, and Gigabit Ethernet jack. Corsair included a simple slipcase for the drive, in case you’re picky about nicks and scratches on the drive casing. The drive also comes with a 2 Amp AC to USB charger and a 2Amp car USB charger and all necessary cables. You’ll need to carry one of the chargers with you at all times, as the drive doesn’t charge its battery over the USB data cable.

The Voyager Air works like a NAS. If you connect it to your Ethernet network, the drive becomes visible to Mac and PC desktops and laptops instantly, and you can copy files to the drive at your heart’s content. Once set up as a network drive on your desktops and laptops, you can use the drive as a wireless backup, but you’ll have to bring your own backup solution, whether that’s the one built into your OS or a third-party solution like Retrospect. When connected to the Ethernet network, you can wirelessly access the files from your laptop, desktop, phone, or tablet as long as you’re all connected to the same wired/wireless router.

Hooking up the Voyager Air as a NAS is one of the simpler ways to share files. There’s no complex user management here, so just be warned that all files and folder will be visible to everyone unless you lock the files themselves with passwords (like when they’re zipped) or save them encrypted. One nit is that drive can’t pass the Internet from the Ethernet port through its internal Wi-Fi radio, unlike the G-Technology G-Connect (500GB) ($199.99), so the Voyager Air won’t add Wi-Fi to a wired network.

The 1TB drive is formatted for NTFS out of the box, so you’ll have to reformat HFS+ or install a third-party NTFS utility on your Mac if you want to directly connect the drive to your Mac via USB. If you have a mixed OS environment at home, Macs can access the drive over the network without a reformat. If you reformat the drive HFS+, you can also use the drive with Time Machine (via USB or over the network).

You must copy your files to the drive manually. Therefore, it’s up to you to be picky about which folder in which to store your files. The easy thing would be to copy your documents, video, music, and photo, folders to the Voyager Air, but this is dependent on you already having your files neatly filed away in those four folders. If you’ve not kept a tidy ship, and have media files everywhere on your various systems, then you can just copy everything over to the Voyager Air, but that’s somewhat wasteful of space and you’ll have to navigate to those folders manually later. The Editors’ Choice for wireless hard drives, the Seagate Wireless Plus
($199.99) comes with a Seagate Media Sync application for Mac or Windows that can seek out those files and copy only those media files to your drive.

The Voyager Air works in home and on the road via its own Wi-Fi network. When you turn on the Wi-Fi switch on the Voyager Air, the drive sets up a local Wi-Fi network, which can share its files to multiple clients including phones, tablets, and laptops. This is the situation you’ll find yourself in if you’re away from Wi-Fi hotspots, like in a car or in the middle of a rural park. An example would be when you’re on a road trip and want to bring all your video files with you. That way little Katie can watch all the episodes of Dora the Explorer she wants, rather than just the few that will fit on the 16GB iPad she’s toting. This is the primary function of the Kingston Wi-Drive ($129.99): that unit is a drive that shares to its own nearby Wi-Fi clients. The G-Connect can also do this is stand-alone mode, as can the Seagate Wireless Plus.

If you’re lucky enough to have a 3G/4G hotspot with you, you can set up the Voyager Air to pass Internet through itself. You can then setup a local Wi-Fi network on the Voyager Air, which will serve both the Internet and your files to wireless laptops and other clients. All your laptops, tablets, and phones will be connected to the Voyager Air’s network, while the Voyager Air is connected to the hotspot. This is the theoretical perfect configuration for the Voyager Air, which is also applicable to the Seagate Wireless Plus, but not the G-Connect nor the Wi-Drive. The Voyager Air and Seagate Wireless Plus are the better travelling companions if you have a 4G hotspot and are travelling with your family.

All four wireless media drives have their own client apps for iOS devices like iPod Touch, iPad, and iPhone. There are client apps for Android on three devices: the Seagate, Corsair, and the Kingston (G-Technology promised an Android app, but it’s unavailable right now). All four apps will let you manage the drive including setting up the wireless password or upgrading the drive’ firmware. All four let you navigate the drive’ folders via the app or without an app through a browser window (like on a laptop). All four handle DRM locally: if your laptop, tablet, or phone is setup to play protected content with your iTunes/Google Play account and password, then it will play back on that device. The problem with three of the drives (Corsair, Kingston, G-Technoogies) is that the apps and browser windows make you navigate the files via folders. This is not too bad on the Kingston, as you only have 16GB of space to work with. However on the G-Technology and Corsair drives you have 500GB-1TB of space to navigate through, which is potentially hundreds of thousands of files, in thousands of folders. The Seagate Wireless Plus handles this more intelligently, as it searches itself for media files like .jpg, .mp4, and .mp3 files, and then catalogs them so the Seagate iOS or Android app can read the files quickly. You simply have to go to the movies, photos, music or documents lists on the Seagate app, instead of having to remember that you MP3 of Ozzy Osbourne’s Crazy Train is 12 folders deep on the Corsair or G-Technologies drive.

The Corsair Voyager Air is an interesting experiment. It has good base of hardware, with wired and wireless networking built in. However, it lags behind our Editor’s Choice for the wireless media drives, the Seagate Wireless Plus due to the Seagate’s robust applications and file cataloging capabilities. The Voyager Air is a good version 1.0 of a product, but the competition has simply been doing this longer and has had time to add improvements to its functionality. Hopefully, Corsair keeps the Voyager Air around long enough to add those improvements to this drive. The Corsair Voyager Air has a good framework to build on, but it’s not a must-have product yet.

Compare the Corsair Voyager Air with several other hard drive side by side.

More hard drive reviews:

System Type Notebook
Type External, Mini
Storage Capacity (as Tested) 1000 GB
Ports Ethernet, USB, USB 2.0, SATA, USB 3.0, 802.11 b/g/n

The Corsair Voyager Air is a sharable external hard drive that works over both wireless and wired networks. It's one of the most flexible on the market, with both Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity. The drive has a lot of potential and capabilities, but a few version 1.0 stumbles keep it from true greatness.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc