iPad Hard Drive Review: Seagate GoFlex Satellite Wireless Storage Device Reviewed by Tom Slayton
Editor's Ratings (1-5): 5
What's Hot: Setup is dead simple. Works with any media your device supports. Streaming speed is excellent. WiFi range is very good. 500 GB of storage is a LOT of media. Works with Apple and Android devices via a free, downloadable app.
What's Not: Spectacularly unintuitive product name will likely result in you forgetting what it's called, even as you sing its praises to your friends and family. Battery life won't match the devices to which it streams (4-5 hours).
The GoFlex Satellite is a WiFi equipped portable hard drive that will allow you to stream its contents to your portable devices, effectively extending their storage capacity dramatically. Think of it as a wireless, portable media server for your mobile lifestyle.
Setup and Installation
The GoFlex Satellite comes charged and ready to go. However, it will be completely useless until you connect it to a computer and fill it with media. Thankfully, this is a reasonably painless process, which consists of you plugging it into a USB port and, after following the setup prompts, dragging and dropping your video files, etc. onto it. The GoFlex is smart enough to identify your files by type so feel free to organize them however you like, the way you would with any external hard drive as no special software is required for import, export, and file management. Once it is chock full of media, it's time to set up your portable device to access it.
To do this, first, download the free Seagate Media app from your App Store of choice. Next, turn on the GoFlex and select its WiFi network within your device's System Settings. Launch the app and you will be greeted with a nicely organized screen that gives you full access to whatever you saw fit to install. Before you do anything else, however, I strongly recommend you go into Settings and password-protect the GoFlex' WiFi network. If you don't, anybody with a WiFi-capable device and the inclination will be able to connect to the GoFlex. Theoretically, this will NOT, give them access to your phone/tablet/iPod, but why risk it?
Features and Quality
The GoFlex Satellite will play any media file that your device is capable of natively playing. For video, this includes: H.264 video, MPEG-4, Motion-JPEG. For Audio, this includes: AAC, MP3, Audible (formats 2, 3, and 4), Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV, although, as previously stated, not all media formats will be available on all platforms. I can confirm that, in addition to user-created MPEG-4 movies, this device/app will also play protected HD content purchased via iTunes; although it plays in a browser window for some reason. This is almost completely seamless; however, as the browser window can be hidden during playback.
By far, the most useful function of the GoFlex is for streaming movies. These files are huge compared to photo/audio files, and can gobble up the limited storage of your portable device very quickly. The GoFlex' 500GB capacity will allow you to store hundreds of movies (as well as tens of thousands of photos/songs, of course), and it will allow up to 4 people to stream them simultaneously via its surprisingly speedy 802.11 b/g/n wireless network. Its tiny footprint makes it exceedingly portable, as does its lithium-ion rechargeable battery. When streaming to a single device, I was able to get 4-5 hours of life out of the battery. This will decrease as you add streamers to the network (maximum: 4). Certainly not bad, but it doesn't match the capacity of either my iPhone or my iPad. This is almost certainly due to the fact that it uses an actual HDD rather than flash memory. While the latter would have been great, it would have drastically reduced the storage capacity while raising the price considerably. Fortunately, Seagate has provided several ways to power the GoFlex Satellite while on the road. In addition to the USB 3.0 cable, it also comes with a USB to DC power cable, a USB wall adaptor, and a USB car charger. One last little bit of polish is the snap-on cap that protects the docking port when not in use.
During my tests, I never experienced a single connection problem or stuttering video. If you encounter difficulty, however, there is a very detailed help section accessible from within the App. Even more useful, is the inclusion of help videos, also accessible from within the App.
Functionality and Usefulness
When/Where would you use the GoFlex Satellite? Anywhere that you don't have access to your iTunes (or other media) library. In particular, I found this to be pure gold in the car. Just plug in the included car adaptor to your vehicle's power port (formerly called a cigarette lighter), hand each of your kids an iPod or iPad and keep them occupied on long drives without having to make those hard choices of what movies to install on each device.
The GoFlex Satellite by Seagate is a fantastic portable media server that will seamlessly augment the storage capacity of your portable devices. With its 500 GB capacity it can hold hundreds of movies (even HD movies) as well as thousands of photos/songs. It is surprisingly easy to set up, and will even play protected content purchased from the iTunes store on devices authorized to play it. While its battery life isn't stellar, it's certainly not bad, and the variety of ways to power the device (all included) go a long way to mitigate that. Highly recommended for those with more media that portable storage, although you may need to write the exceedingly forgettable name down so you don't forget what to ask Santa for.