Storing information in the cloud is all good and well but with tiered data plans becoming the norm the idea of constantly streaming music and video becomes a bit problematic. After all, depending upon your plan, streaming just a couple of movies could all but do in your monthly allotment. That leaves just three possibilities. You can either constantly juggle the content stored on your mobile device (a royal pain), you can buy the largest capacity device possible And be selective about what goes on it (expensive and the iPad tops out at 64GB) or you can find some way to access a large hard drive on the go.
That’s what Seagate wants you to do with their new GoFlex Satellite Wireless Storage device. It lets you bring 500Gb of content with you and then access it wirelessly- even when you are not in a WiFi network.
I’ve been using one of the early units for the last week and thought we might take a closer look at it.
Your media library, as mobile as your iPad: The GoFlex Satellite device goes wherever your iPad goes and lets you wirelessly access all your movies, photos, music and documents. No more worrying about running out of space on your iPad.
500GB of storage capacity
Up to 5 hours battery life2
Up to 25 hours standby time2
Three different HD movies. Three different iPads—all at the same time: Everyone in the family can wirelessly access the hundreds of movies you load on the GoFlex Satellite device. Stream to almost any Wi-Fi enabled device using a web browser or the free app optimized for iPad
Works with tablets and smartphones too: Stream to almost any device that has Wi-Fi connectivity and a web browser–including laptops, Android® phones and tablets, iPhone®, iPod Touch® and more.
Flexibility is built in: The GoFlex Satellite mobile wireless storage device is part of the Seagate® GoFlex® Storage System. This innovative system makes it incredibly easy to upgrade or change the interface on your GoFlex Satellite device, so you can always get optimal transfer speeds when loading and syncing your media.
Includes USB 3.0 connectivity for fast data transfers (fully compatible with USB 2.0)3
Other available interfaces include FireWire® 800 and powered eSATA (sold separately)
Load media from both PC and Mac computers
Simply plug the GoFlex Satellite device into your PC or Mac computer to quickly sync your media library.
In the box you will find the GoFlex Satellite, a Seagate GoFlex Storage System USB 3.0/2.0 interface cable, a charging cable and both a wall and car charger adapter.
That a lot of extra stuff for a hard drive but this isn’t just any hard drive. No, this is a hard drive that needs to be charged in order for it to be of maximum use. And, since the drive only gets a maximum of 5 hours per charge, having a car adapter along for the ride is a very good thing.
iPad, smartphone, tablet or computer with a web browser and Wi-Fi connectivity (802.11 b/g/n)
PC or Mac computer running Windows® 7, Windows Vista®, Windows® XP or Mac OS® 10.5.8 or later operating system for loading media on to GoFlex Satellite mobile wireless storage device via USB
SuperSpeed USB 3.0 port (required for USB 3.0 transfer speeds) or USB 2.0 port
At its core the GoFlex Satellite Mobile Wireless Storage is a portable hard drive with 500 GB of storage.
It is not all that interesting To look at and doesn’t have much in the way of interest or buttons except for the power button and wireless and power indicator lights.
Here it is next to the GoFlex Slim we reviewed a few weeks ago. The two drives have the same capacity and both use the GoFlex component interface but one is obviously far thicker.
This is the connector side of both drives. The GoFlex Slim has the connection open. The GoFlex Satellite’s connector is behind the black panel covering the lower 2/3 of the device’s end.
Pull off the plastic door and the Satellite’s connector is exposed.
A USB 2.0/3.0 connection is included with the unit. Other connections, such as FireWire are also available.
When the cable and interface are connected to the drive you end up with what looks like a traditional, albeit chunky, external drive. This is not, however, a “traditional, albeit chunky, external drive”. No, this is a drive that packs a few new tricks that make it quite useful to anyone who consumes a lot of media on their portable devices.
The drive uses special software that is pre-loaded on the drive itself but it can also.
There is a drive program that needs to be installed and, once completed, the Mac restarted.
After that there is sync software that can be loaded and run. The sync software makes it simple to load all kinds of media onto the Satellite drive. You can select if you want music, movies, images or documents to be synced. You can also select which folders you want included in the sync process. Be warned! If you are syncing a large amount of data the first sync will take a very long time. (I let it run overnight and that was just with loading my iTunes music to it!)
The next step is to go to the iTunes App Store and download the free GoFlex Media app.
Once it is loaded you need to get your iDevice on the GoFlex’s “network”. The GoFlex Satellite has WiFi built into it. This means you don’t need an external wireless system to access the data stored on it. Instead you simply jump on the network that IT creates.
First you turn on the drive. Both indicator lights should glow.
Then go to your device’s settings.
And wait some more.
It takes a while for the drive’s network to appear. When it does choose it as the favored network.
Then go to the GoFlex Media app.
If everything is working properly you will see the word “Connected” in the lower left side of the screen. Now you are free to browse the content of the device.
The sync software organizes everything into a folder tree that keeps things nice and neat. It does, however, mean that sometimes you need to cumbersomely dig down into the nested folders to find what you want.
That’s really my main complaint about the device. It is a bit on the slow side and it is not as easy to find the content you want on it if you have loaded a lot. (And with 500GB you can load a whole lot of content!)
That complaint aside, I think this is a great concept and it is rather well executed. That is especially so considering that this is a first generation device in a number of ways. Yes, it takes quite a while to sync. (But remember, my MacBook Air has USB 2.0 not USB 3.0.) Yes, it is slow to appear in the wireless networks when you first turn it on. And Yes, it is a bit cumbersome to find your data.
And this is a huge but- the device lets you take 500GB of content on the road with you and it allows you to connect to ll that content wirelessly. That means that, thanks to the GoFlex Satellite I now have a 564GB iPad 2 and a 532GB iPhone That’s pretty impressive.
The only other issue that I can see people having with the Satellite is that while the iPad 2 gets 10 hours on one charge the Satellite only gets 5 hours.
That’s why they included this funky car charger with it.
And there is one last trick that is worth highlighting yet again. You can have more than one device connected at a time. That means you could let each of three children watch whatever show they wanted and all do it at the same time. So long as you aren’t on a place of course since wireless devices are a no-no in flight.
The Seagate GoFlex Satellite is currently on backorder and can be found on the Seagate website.
What I Like: 500GB of portable external storage; Sync software makes it quite convenient to get all the content you want on the drive; iOS apps are free downloads from the App Store; You can access all the content on the drive wirelessly and have multiple devices connected at the same time.
What Needs Improvement: Slow to appear in network list; cumbersome interface when there is a lot of media from which to choose; only 5 hours of battery life per charge