iOS-based platforms have one major flaw: slim storage. Even with 64GB of memory, you can’t fit your entire movie collection on an iPad or iPhone, even including all the music you want is a challenge. Streaming attempts to overcome this limitation, but in some cases that means rebuying films or video you already own on other media just so you can watch it when you are near a hotspot—who yes, you have to be at a hotspot for streaming to work. What would it be like if you own the hotspot? That is exactly what Seagate offers, a 500GB GoFlex Satellite Wi-Fi Drive that becomes its own content hotspot. The drive offers enough room for roughly 300 HD movies or thousands of songs. And if you are worried about playtime, the battery can keep the device charged for a cross-country flight, or about 7-hours, depending on use.
The GoFlex Satellite Wi-Fi Drive comes with all the hardware you need to get started: A USB power charger with cable, and detachable USB 3.0 cable. Owners will need to download the Seagate Media app to access the drive. If you require more interfaces, Thunderbolt™ and FireWire® 800 interfaces are available for a separate price.
This isn’t just a personal drive, as it can be shared with up to three devices at the same time. You can even stream to AirPlay® enabled devices. Streams can connect not to iOS devices (iPad, iPhone, Touch) and to PCs and Macs, and other non-iOS devices. You do have to be careful about file format when crossing platforms. My Apple formatted videos, for instance, were not readable on a Samsung smart phone (if you save in pure standards, like MPEG 4and MP3 you shouldn’t have an issue).
The Seagate GoFlex Satellite Wi-Fi Drive creates its own network, which means your device must connect to it and disconnect from other networks. You can’t watch a movie and retrieve mail at the same time (at least not yet — looks like it may be a feature of “Plus” drives that will ship in the future). But when on a plane or in a car, there isn’t usually much to connect to anyway. The drive captures ports WiFi only, so devices with dual networks, like iPhones, can continue to receive data and use the drive at the same time.
You may be confused a bit on first use, as the app must discover what is on the drive, much as iTunes must catalog existing music and video on first use. The original app had some connectivity glitches that seem to have been remedied with the new version. Once loaded, a Finder-like experience awaits, with icons and lists that provide access to the content. If you are using iTune’s as the source, your playlists will work with the drive. The drive also works great with photos.
Loading the drive with content requires connecting it to a Mac or PC with the included UB cable. Macs require NTSF software for read-write. That software is on the drive and must be installed prior to use. If you are running iOS 6, the firmware on the drive needs an update before connecting. Seagate offers clear and thorough instructions on the drive and on their website.
Seagate released a new app for iOS in early January 2013 that enhances the user experience and seems to solve some stability issues. It also hints at new hardware. With CES just around the corner, a “Plus” version of the GoFlex Satellite looks to add photo and video uploads, battery life indicators, playlist creation, photo albums, recently viewed items, indicators for available storage space, media library building progress, Internet pass through when presented with a captive portal, such as a public Wi-Fi hotspots and support for hidden SSID (hidden Wi-Fi network name).
I like this drive. It provides a backup for some of the most time and labor intensive data on most PCs, namely movies and music that people have spent hours ripping and curating—and it makes all of the content available quickly and easily. And in the future, it looks like Seagate plans for even more useful features, turning the GoFlex Satellite into a bi-directional repository. With devices like this, the Post-PC world seems ever more imminent.
I’m heading off to New York soon and I look forward to streaming video and music across the United States. I will be able to share more than champagne with my Wife as we snuggle into seats and try to create an cocoon of ambient video and sounds to buffer us from the “joys” of flight (hey, no seat kicking, please!)
Seagate Satellite Mobile Wireless Storage
$199.99. Available at online and physical retailers.