HP Pocket Playlist review

Carry a pocket full of comic book movies with you on your next cross-country trip with the HP Pocket Playlist pocket media drive.
Photo of HP Pocket Playlist

The HP Pocket Playlist ($129 direct) is a 32GB flash drive that can be used to carry extra media files that won’t fit on your phone or tablet. Whether it’s because you bought the cheaper 8GB phone, or that your 64GB of stoarage space is already filled up, The Pocket Playlist is can hold movies, music, and photos that can be shared with a half-dozen friends simultaneously. All in all it’s not bad if all you need is a pocket full of Marvel comic book movies, but you’ll probably get a better bang for the buck from a hard drive-equipped media drive.

Design and Features
The Pocket Playlist is about the size of a mid-tier smartphone, measuring 0.35 by 2.5 by 4.75 inches (HWD), and it looks like one too, albeit one without a screen. Its casing is made of glossy black polycarbonate, with three physical switches and buttons on one edge, and two LED indicators for power and Wi-Fi status. It only weighs 2.24 ounces, so it will slip easily into your jeans pocket and not weigh it down too much. Last but not least, there’s a micro-USB port on the bottom of the drive, for charging and transferring your content. The Pocket Playlist is similar in size to the Kingston Wi-Drive ($129.99): both are flash storage-based wireless drives. The Pocket Playlist comes with both an AC adapter and a car charger to keep the internal battery topped up.

The Pocket Playlist comes with an installer CD, which puts a copy of Arcsoft Media Converter on your PC. You can then use Media Converter to transcode media files like videos so they will play on your mobile devices. The program has presets for iOS devices, as well as generic settings for Android phones and tablets. If your files are in iTunes or another media library they most likely are already in the correct format. Copying files to the Pocket Playlist is a simple drag-and-drop affair, open the drive in Windows Explorer or in Mac OS Finder and copy stuff over manually via USB or wirelessly (more on that below). The drive is formatted FAT32, so it will work with both Mac OS and Windows out of the box. However, since the drive is FAT32, you’re limited to a 4GB file size. Other wireless media drives like the Editors’ Choice for wireless media drives Seagate Wireless Plus ($199.99) come formatted NTFS to allow for larger files. The Seagate comes with an NTFS utility for Macs, so Mac users aren’t in a bind there. Seagate also packs in a media sync utility, so you don’t have to search your computer for media files to put on your wireless drive.

To get the files over, you need to either connect the drive physically via USB or use the drive’s built-in Wi-Fi router to connect to its built-in network. Wi-Fi is obviously slower, but is usable out in the field when you don’t have the USB cable handy. One nit to pick is the physical switch that denotes operation via USB or Wi-Fi. If you put the drive in your bag and the switch is in the wrong position, you’ll have to take it back out to use the drive over Wi-Fi. Drives like this should be intelligent enough to know which connection is active.

If you are using a portable or permanent hotspot, you can set the Pocket Playlist to pass Internet traffic through. Essentially, this means that the Pocket Playlist is connected to the hotspot and you phones and tablets are hooked to the Pocket Playlist. It’s a good workaround that lets you still connect to the Internet while sharing the files on the drive. If you’re in the middle of nowhere with no Internet signal, you can still serve the files locally to your devices.

A plus in favor of the Pocket Playlist is the drive’s self-cataloging. You can drop files several folders deep on the drive, and the built-in file server will pick them out and display them in categories (movies, photos, music) on the Pocket Playlist’s Android or iOS app. This is a better way to navigate your media files, and much better than the method on the Corsair Voyager Air ($219.99), which requires you to manually dig and find files in individual folders strewn about the drive.

The HP Pocket Playlist is a lightweight wireless media drive for people that need just a bit more storage for their smartphones and tablets. It can be used while travelling, or to share a media among a small group of people in an office or coffee shop. It’s not bad, but there are better solutions like the Editors’ Choice Seagate Wireless Plus that gives you a full Terabyte of storage and much better file management.

COMPARISON TABLE
Compare the HP Pocket Playlist with several other hard drive side by side.

More hard drive reviews:

Specifications
Rotation Speed SSD
System Type Notebook
Type External, Mini
Storage Capacity (as Tested) 32 GB
Ports USB 2.0, SATA, USB 3.0

Verdict
The HP Pocket Playlist is a wireless media drive that can share 32GB of movies, music, and photos with a small group of friends. It's not bad if all you need is a pocket full of Marvel comic book movies and your phone's memory is already full.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc