Want an alternative to One Drive or Dropbox? Don’t want to pay for monthly or annual fees just to have access to your images and videos? Want to have control about the amount of storage you have in the cloud?
The Kwilt Shoebox is one solution that positively answers these questions. A personal cloud, scaled by you.
From September 2017, the Kwilt® Shoebox Launch Video:
With just a few small pieces of equipment, apps, USB storage and a WiFi connection that is under your control, you can create your own cloud. There are no additional costs beyond the cost of the Kwilt Shoebox unit (the retail price at press time was $69 US).
At press time, there was little reason to use the HDMI output. An expected feature called KwiltCast will allow you to view videos and photos accessible by your Kwilt account to a connected television. Your Kwilt app will act as your remote control.
The last thing I did before proceeding with app acquisition, WiFi setups and testing, I plugged in a small USB drive.
The point of the Kwilt Shoebox is you may turn single or multiple storage devices into your personal cloud. Your iOS or Android smartphone device is your computing and management tool for this. Your actual drive or drives are the storage medium for your cloud, something you can physically managed and control. Beyond your personal connectivity costs, media costs and the Kwilt Shoebox unit cost, you should not be worried about the (additional) monthly or annual fees you pay Dropbox or other services. Even then, you can integrate Dropbox into your Kwilt workflow if you already have it.
I started with this small SanDisk USB drive and then later tried out system with the addition of a powered USB 3 hub with multiple ports.
The first network activity is to connect your mobile device directly with the Kwilt Shoebox.
You will eventually connect your setup to your WiFi network. This works as expected with you are able to provide ID and password access to the device, like a typical home WiFi setup.
If you have a large enough storage setup, you can copy or even offload your phone’s videos and photos to the Kwilt Shoebox. This means that you worry less about running out of built storage on the device. iPhone HEIC photos should be more fully supported by the time you read this. As press time, the Kwilt app could read HEIC photos and videos already on your iPhone or iPad. You could even transfer them to your Shoebox. Once there, though, the Kwilt app was not able to render or read them.
I found that WiFi connections worked well while my 4G and LTE connections were less peppy.
If you switch on the included KwiltKeys photo Keyboard for iOS, you can locate any image and place it in an app that takes keyboard input by.
Beyond the basic backup and external storage functionality, Microsoft Office 365 apps can access your Kwilt app-acknowledged content, including your Dropbox account, if you so choose. These additional apps – Kwilt for Office 365 and Kwilt for Outlook – are available from the Office store.
Following the instructions, I had no significant difficulties getting all of the expected features to work.
The main quirk encountered so far was navigating in and out of videos.
At about 59 seconds into the recording, the Kwilt app seems to quit or exit rather than return me to the file menu.
An alternative method for accessing videos is through the Kwilt app interface itself, rather than depending on this folder-based interface I demonstrated.
As mentioned earlier, the KwiltCast feature was not ready at press time. When I last connected the Kwilt Shoebox to my Sony HDTV, I see this screen.
When I happened to unplug the device and plug it back in when the television was still tuned to the Shoebox, I got this display. Seems that the TV identified it as a Raspberry device.
At press time, the release of the KwiltCast feature is expected for the early part of the second quarter of 2018. The Android app, in beta form as of this posting, is expected to be in its official form by the end of March 2018.
All-in-all, the Kwilt Shoebox meets all features available at press time. Its easy setup and ease of use, while limited to your 4G/LTE or WiFi Android and iOS devices (i.e. no wired Ethernet connection), is buoyed by the modularity of your storage options and the non-requirement of a subscription fee. While the KwiltCast feature will be interesting to play with, its lack of availability is not yet a major concern for me. The Kwilt app is clean but needs some refinement, like the navigation issue shown in my demonstration video. I experienced this each time I wished to move among my video clips.
I rate the Kwilt Shoebox a strong 9 out of 10.