Review: Wi-Fi Seagate GoFlex Is The Perfect Tablet Companion

Written by Matthew Lentini     06/12/2011 | 04:03 | Category name i.e.HOME OFFICE

Android, iOS, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Nokia - Seagate's Wi-Fi wonder streams content onto three separate devices at once, but there are a few chinks in the armour.


Shrinking devices are taking to flash memory and solid state drives more commonly these days. They're more expensive and offer less space than the traditional hard drive. Having a portable hard drive has only become more of a necessity in this era, and hard drive makers have latched onto the content-consuming tablet and smartphone market with Wi-Fi-enabled hard drives that fill the memory void.


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To access information on this drive directly from Seagate scan this QR code with your smartphone or tablet.

The slim GoFlex is a relatively small and lightweight hard drive that will fit into a larger pocket like the inside of a suit jacket and will easily stow away in a bag for the user on the move. The black, glossy finish with silver trim is standard hard drive material, and a removable cover on the USB 3.0 port keeps the streamlined look going.


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It's attractive on the inside too, with the downloadable app for Android and iOS looking very sharp, focussed and simple. The colourful menus with large buttons arrange files stored on the hard drive in a neat array that makes it simple to navigate, even on small screens. On iPhones and Android simply connect through the dedicated app or jump onto the web browser app which is practically identical on any other device. The folder format arranges files into subheadings like music, video, pictures, or just in the same drag and drop folder format of your PC.

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The 500GB unit houses a Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n transmitter that streams to three separate devices flawlessly, though Wi-Fi is limited to streaming - throwing content onto and pulling content off the hard drive will need a hardline to a PC. Transfer speeds once the device is plugged in are very quick thanks to the USB 3.0 connection. You'll need USB 3.0 ports (which many new laptops are coming stocked with) to garner the best speeds, but it'll still run quick over USB 2.0.

These streams run without a hitch within any large room. The Wi-Fi signal won't match your typical home router, fitted with antennae. Throw a wall or two in the way, and the signal dampens and videos and music can stutter. It's not network-attach, so you can't have it piggyback off your home network to deliver streaming across the whole house.

The device supports three connections at a time (even if you're streaming the same file) though the estimated battery life of five hours with a solitary streamer doesn't bode well for the trifecta. Here you'll want to have it plugged into a power supply, whether it be USB or a wall socket. It comes with an in-car charger input that makes it perfect for long family road trips.

Media compatibility is limited by your device's media support. Streaming .AVI files to an Android device, for instance, would not work, while an old-model Symbian Nokia would pick up the file in the form of a download and a BlackBerry device would run it smoothly through the browser interface. Support is completely determined by your device here, so you'll want to be converting any iffy files before you start streaming.

Seagate doesn't let users do much complete file sharing over Wi-Fi here unfortunately - the device has to be plugged straight into a PC to drag and drop files. You can upload files from your device over Wi-Fi, though downloading files off the Seagate was not always an option. Similar Wi-Fi hard drives like some of Western Digital's would only transfer files via Wi-Fi, which doesn't play friendly with extra large, HD content, so not being able to always wirelessly transfer files on the GoFlex doesn't seem like too much of a letdown in that light.

The Seagate GoFlex Satellite really flexes its muscles against the other Wi-Fi hard drive competition from the likes of Kensington and Western Digital - though it's still not perfect, especially for $229 when less than half the price can buy double the storage. The Wi-Fi transfer functionality could be upped, battery life could be ramped up for practicality's sake, and some onboard video support might make it a more appealing buy. Perhaps as tablets progress, so too will these supplementary devices mature. But until then, this is one of the best options around for getting content onto your devices and sharing it on the go.

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Pros & Cons

Pros:

Streams to up to three devices without lag; Fast USB 3.0; lightweight and portable

Cons:

Wi-Fi range can falter outside of a single room; no Wi-Fi file transfers; Battery life falters with multiple users