The RavPower FileHub has a lot of potential. It’s a travel router, a battery, a card reader, and a media server all rolled into one. It may be used to copy files from an SD card to USB storage without the need for a laptop, as well as to stream music, images, and video to your TV, phone, laptop, or tablet.
All of this in a device little bigger than a deck of cards. It sounds like it would be excellent for travellers, at least if it works as stated. Is that the case?
Features and Specifications
The RavPower FileHub is a compact black box with dimensions of 4.4 x 3.0 x 1.0 inches (11.3 x 7.6 x 2.5cm) and a weight of seven ounces (199g). The front is mostly blank, but for the corporate logo and a line of icons that give you a general notion of what’s going on, while the back is mostly empty save for a list of specifications. Things start to become intriguing on the sidelines.
On the right, there’s a power button, and on the left, there’s an SD card reader and two buttons: one for switching between 2.4 and 5GHz wireless networks, and the other for copying files from an SD card to USB storage. A sturdy rubber flap protects three ports along the top.
There’s also RJ45 Ethernet for connecting to a wired network and USB-A for bringing in a storage device, in addition to the USB-C charging connector. The built-in 6700mAh battery can also be used to charge other devices using that connector.
The FileHub has only a few buttons, which is surprising given how much it can do. Because practically all of the configuration is done through software, either by connecting to the built-in web server or by using the iOS or Android app, this is the case. Both versions, like so many other comparable apps, have received poor reviews.
The FileHub came in a small box that contained the gadget, a short USB-A to USB-C connector, and a large instruction booklet in three languages. I don’t typically notice instruction books for gadgets like these because they’re virtually always terrible, but this one was better than the others. The screenshots were in colour, and the phrases were at least comprehensible. It’s the simple things in life that can make a big difference.
Because the FileHub came with only a partial charge, I used a USB-C cable to charge it while testing. Two additional wifi networks appeared after holding down the power button for a few seconds and waiting around half a minute: one 2.4GHz and one 5GHz. I already had the (Android) app installed on my phone, so I joined one of the new networks, fired up the app, and got going.
I started by placing an SD card into the FileHub and wirelessly copying a folder containing 470 photos (1.2GB) to an Android phone using the FileHub app. I then connected a USB hard drive to the computer and copied the identical folder to it. Finally, rather of copying the parent folder, I picked all of the files and copied them to both the phone and the hard drive a second time.
- From the SD card to the Android phone (folder): 2 minutes, 59 seconds
- From the SD card to the Android phone (files): 3 minutes, 41 seconds
- From the SD card to a USB hard drive (folder): 1 minute, 54 seconds
- From the SD card to a USB hard drive (files): 18 minutes, 2 seconds
As you can see, selecting the folder holding the files and transferring it was considerably faster than selecting the files within it and uploading them to USB storage. That much of a difference makes no sense, given that the amount of data being transported is the same in both directions. However, I obtained the identical results with a different USB stick, so there’s clearly something strange going on.
Using the app’s File Management tool to move files around was also painfully slow. A 4GB file copied from one folder to another on the USB device took 20 minutes to get halfway through before failing. When utilising a laptop instead, it took less than two minutes. All of the aforementioned tests were conducted while using the FileHub’s 5GHz Wi-Fi network.
Using the 2.4GHz network worked good as well, but copying from the SD card to the Android phone took about 30% longer. Because there is no app for Windows or MacOS, I tested from my laptop using the internet interface. In terms of appearance and functionality, it’s quite simple, harkening back to the late 1990s. You’ll enjoy it if you enjoy nostalgia.
If you prefer to get things done, though, you will not enjoy it as much. While several files can be copied or moved between an SD card and a USB stick, the browser interface did not appear to offer a means to download them all at once to the laptop. I could either download each one individually by viewing and storing it, or use the USB stick in a two-step method. I chose the second choice, which was unsurprising.
Of course, you don’t have to copy files using the app or a browser if you don’t want to. It was time to put that feature to the test as well. Being able to back up an SD card at the touch of a button is beneficial for anyone travelling without a laptop or smartphone, so it was time to put it to the test.
The procedure is straightforward: insert the SD card and USB storage you want to use, wait for the relevant icons on the top to finish flashing, and then press and hold the “SD > USB” button on the side for a few seconds until the SD icon begins to flash.
Then all you have to do is wait for the light to stop flashing.
When it happens, a new “SDBackup” folder should appear on the USB storage. Inside that is a folder titled with the current date and time, and everything from the SD card is contained within that.
It’s a smart strategy because it allows you to duplicate the card(s) several times without one overwriting the other. It took almost precisely the same length of time to copy that identical folder with 470 files: 1 minute and 57 seconds.
When it comes to Wi-Fi, the FileHub has a few tricks up its sleeve, though they come with some constraints. It may convert a wired network or an ADSL/cable modem into a Wi-Fi hotspot, or it can work in “Bridge” mode to rebroadcast an existing Wi-Fi network under a new name. That second feature is likely to be most beneficial for travellers, particularly those with poor signal or who must pay for Wi-Fi access per device.
It is only compatible with 2.4GHz networks, not the newer (and often faster) 5GHz variants. All of the standard configuration options are available, including the ability to alter network names, passwords, and channels, as well as the ability to switch from automatic to manual configuration.
When using a wireless bridge, maximum speeds are lowered, as they are with any other wireless bridge. The guidelines predicted a speed reduction of roughly 50%, but download speeds were reduced even more on a fast home internet connection.
Uploads remained unchanged, despite the fact that they were significantly slower to begin with. When using the FileHub to turn a wired network into a Wi-Fi hotspot, there were no such issues. It wasn’t quite fast enough to transport data at full speed, but it came close on the 5Ghz network.
While many individuals will use the file management and wifi features the most, they aren’t the only ones. It’s also possible to stream your favourite film and audio files from the FileHub, as well as charge your mobile devices. Samba (Windows networking) and DLNA support were both built-in, which surprised me.
This increases the FileHub’s utility as a media server, especially because it eliminates the need to use the app’s basic viewing facilities.
Instead, you may use a player like VLC to view episodes from a USB stick on your phone or tablet, or stream video to a smart TV.
If you have a Chromecast, you may use it to stream content from FileHub to any TV. Most newer smart TVs should enable DLNA if they don’t already. Mine automatically detected the FileHub, so I was able to start streaming HD movies from a USB drive to the TV in less than a minute. Although there was the occasional stutter, the overall quality was excellent.
Then I loaded up VLC on my phone to check if I could connect it wirelessly to the USB stick in the FileHub. The handbook provided no instructions, but after a few minutes of trial and error, I was able to get it to operate. The same HD video streamed flawlessly, with no visible or audible hiccups.
Finally, the most basic of all tasks: phone charging. Between the FileHub and my phone, I plugged the USB-A to USB-C cable from the package, measured the output, and timed how long it took to charge. The output remained constant at 2W (4.78v x 0.42A), implying that the FileHub’s maximum power output is a meagre 0.5A. Don’t expect it to charge anything exceptionally quickly.
Tablets and other gadgets that require a higher-power charger may not be able to be charged at all. At the bottom of the screen, my phone said, “Charging slowly,” and it wasn’t joking. It took 29 minutes to charge from 25% to 50%, 68 minutes to reach 75%, and two hours to reach 100% after starting.
I tried charging my phone via the Filehub’s USB-C port instead, just in case. Unfortunately, it did not work, and the phone began charging instead. The FileHub took slightly under five hours to charge from empty to fully charged. The documentation specifies a maximum input of 10W (5v x 2A), but I couldn’t get it to draw more than 6W using a variety of chargers and connectors.
The RavPower FileHub is an easy device to suggest in general. It provides a lot for the money and, despite certain flaws, performs admirably in most areas. It can be used as a travel router, converting a wired network to a wireless one or sharing an existing (2.4GHz) Wi-Fi connection.
Anyone travelling without a laptop will appreciate the option to immediately copy an SD card to USB storage, and it performed flawlessly. Copying files from an SD card to a phone wirelessly was quick, as was copying a folder of files from the card to a USB device.
Streaming music and video performed better than expected, and it can be used as a portable media server thanks to capabilities like Samba and DLNA. Streaming movies to a phone or tablet for hours with only a USB stick and the FileHub might be a game-changer for families on extended car journeys.
The technology, however, was not without flaws. Moving files about with the app’s built-in file management was incredibly sluggish, as was moving a few hundred files to a USB drive instead of the folder containing them. That still perplexes me.
The Android app was a little clumsy, and I had to restart it and/or the FileHub a few times for it to recognise that I’d inserted a USB stick. Nonetheless, it fared much better than the app store reviews suggested. What can be stated about the web interface is that the less said about it, the better.
Because 5Ghz Wi-Fi networks are becoming more common, it’s a shame there’s no support for bridging them. Furthermore, while the FileHub is technically a power bank, the output is extremely low. In a pinch, it’ll suffice, but if you’ll be using a portable battery on a daily basis, you’re better off with virtually anything else.
All of those concerns should be addressed, whether by a software update or in the future generation of the product. Even yet, considering the unit’s pricing and how well the primary features work, none of these are likely to be deal breakers for most consumers.
So, in conclusion, is the RavPower FileHub a worthwhile purchase? The answer will almost probably be yes for many passengers, especially those who aren’t bringing a laptop. Recommended.