The Seagate GoFlex Satellite is a simple idea: take a big hard drive with you, wherever you want to go, that doesn't need any advanced setup, that doesn't need to be connected to a Wi-Fi network, and can beam your music, videos, photos, and documents to whatever device you happen to have with you--iPad, smartphone, laptop, whatever. And it does exactly that. Congratulations, iPad/smartphone/etc owner: You now have 500GB of extra storage, no matter which device you're using.
The Seagate GoFlex Satellite is the first portable hard drive (it uses a 2.5-inch laptop drive, in a 500GB capacity) we've seen that's designed to be used on the go with another portable device. It's got a battery Seagate says lasts for about five hours (which may be slightly optimistic, but is not egregiously far off), connects via USB (including USB 3.0, if you're lucky enough to have it), and, most importantly, beams its contents to a mobile device via Wi-Fi. It comes with apps for Android and the iPad that make streaming easier, but it can be used with basically any Wi-Fi enabled device, including laptops and tablets. At the moment, you can connect up to three devices at a time to it.
The thing just works. It charges really, surprisingly quickly over USB, then you press the power button on the drive. Look in your available Wi-Fi networks setting on your phone/tablet/laptop, pick "GoFlex Satellite," then open up the app, and bam: all of your stuff, available anywhere. It spits out a pretty good wireless radius--you'll probably want to be in the same room with it, but I used it a few times while stuffed in my backpack and it worked just fine. Streaming is very fast, the app is simple and easy to navigate, and streaming video quality was as good as if the file was on the device's own storage.
If you're using a device that doesn't have an app (which are only available for Android and iOS at the moment), don't fret: you just connect to the GoFlex's Wi-Fi network as usual, then open up your web browser and go to any address. You'll be automatically booted to a web interface that just about exactly replicates the app's. Easy!
I love that it works with just about any device: the company who made my ancient Palm Pre Plus doesn't even exist anymore, but the phone can stream episodes of Louie from the GoFlex without blinking.
Plus, it's a nice-looking hard drive, fairly small, and Seagate is my personal favorite hard drive manufacturer--I've found their drives to be very reliable, which is about the only thing to like or dislike about a hard drive, normally. Of course, you can connect it via USB to a Mac or Windows machine and it appears as a normal 500GB hard drive.
It uses a non-standard USB cable, which is something we always frown on. If you lose the cable, you're basically out of luck. It requires the installation of a teeny bit of software before you can connect it via USB to your Mac (I think because it's NTFS-formatted, which Mac OS can't write to)--annoying, but only for a second, and then it worked perfectly.
To use it wirelessly, you do have to log into the GoFlex's wireless network, which means you can't do anything else on the internet while you're connected. Trying to open up a page in your web browser, for example, will just kick you back to Seagate's GoFlex browser. Oh, and this isn't really fair, but your device can only stream files that are supported by your device in the first place--if your iPad can't play .MKVs, you won't be able to stream them from the GoFlex either. So I ended up converting all my videos.
$180 from online vendors like Amazon and Newegg. That's about a $90 or $100 premium over an equivalent drive without the wireless functions or battery. It's not necessarily cheap, but I wouldn't say it's too expensive either, if you want one.
I really like the GoFlex. It's not necessarily an essential purchase, as much of our media lives in the cloud, at Netflix or Hulu or Rdio or Google Docs, but not all of it, not yet. What I especially love about the GoFlex is that it works. Wireless gadgets often have issues--various incompatibilities, all completely inscrutable, because who has any idea how wireless really works? We've had issues with these kinds of devices, like the Roku and Eye-Fi, before. But the GoFlex works exactly like it should, and as most of our gadgets (especially those made by Apple) have basically no way to add storage, I could see it being a great help on trips or vacations. If you just need some expandable storage, well, there are cheaper options. But if you're already thinking about all the uses you might have for 500GB of storage you can access from any device, this is the gadget to get.
On the shelf behind me I have several ordinary hard drives from old PC's I have replaced. Each drive is in a small Antec USB 2.0 connected external enclosure. I can fire up the drives and access their contents from my new PC anytime I want. One sometimes travels with me in my briefcase.
There are two features the GoFlex offers my enclosures don't - wireless connectivity and internal battery power. However mine cost less than $35 and use a standard USB cable. $180 is a big premium for Wi-Fi and a battery.
500Gb its like the old 512Mb USB now...
We want to see some Teras already !
bored? lets go mine the stars... ^^
Oh yes, a Petabyte drive would be a most welcome upgrade!
Of course imagine the tears we all would shed as our hard drive crashes and we have to reload the data.
"A petabyte (derived from the SI prefix peta- ) is a unit of information equal to one quadrillion (short scale) bytes, or 1000 terabytes."
Bildan, you make a great point -- yes there are lots of great (cheaper) ways to store media and data (or make backups). Using old internal drives is ingeniously cheap! And there are lots of external drives on the market cheaper than Satellite.
The point of this tool is to be able to stream movies to, and access 500GB of data with, a phone or a tablet (way more data than the device can hold). Those devices don't have any ports to plug an external drive into. That's why we incorporated the WiFi.
vt007 and becosmos -- sure, 1TB or 1PB, in a mini WiFi drive! I'm all for that!
-John at Seagate
"To use it wirelessly, you do have to log into the GoFlex's wireless network, which means you can't do anything else on the internet while you're connected."
and the race is on: To be the 1st to hack the security and to steal 500GB of data.
Not a bad idea; it may not be for everyone, but someone will find a good use of this drive.
What about file security? Does it have encryption? Will it use TrueCrypt to encrypt the entire drive? Questions, questions. Good product, bad article.
Security is easy, don't plug it in anywhere you don't have full control over. Duh.
I have been traveling with a GoFlex Satellite for the past couple of weeks and a few issues should be mentioned.
1. Very Slow on several fronts: When utilizing the USB connection, copying flies to the drive is much slower than with a standard USB GoFlex 2.5" 500GB.
It seems to be trying to media scan the files while copying and really noticeable on larger video files being transferred?
Once your up on your wifi connection though it can still take an inordinate amount of time for the Satellite to scan through your new files. With 10 movies ( < 1G each) and 10Gig of photos it took 3hrs.
It would be nicer to have designated folders that can be set to be scanned or not on demand vs. automatic on all.
2. Can not stream to laptops, slow file downloads:
While the Satellite is geared towards tablet devices that may not have a usb port or lots of internal storage, I still find it convienent in tight spaces to not have to connect up a drive nor have to bother with copying files on/off the laptops nor mess with installing the Satellite's proprietary USB cable.
Also helps if your limited to battery and you want to have an external take away some of that battery time.
Even though the content is set correctly in my browsers to recognize video extensions and to play them, it isn't working for me. This is on a macbook and PC laptop with Firefox, Safari, IE, and Chrome.
The file is offered as a download (regardless of clicking play or download on the Satellite's menu).
The kicker is the download speed is the same as if it is being streamed. Example, a 1hr long video will take 1hr to download (regardless of size).
3. Category Views: This is kind of nick picking but the Category Views (Video Photos, Musc, etc) become somewhat useless if you load up your Satellite lots of media files. There should be a view option under each category that still shows a folder hierarchy. For instance, if I've loaded a few thousand photos in different folders, the Photos option will show all of these in a single view which you have to start paging through.
I have bought one of these device and I cursed and swear at it when I copied my first 100GB of media into it. It crawled!
I found these guys from hack seagate satellite dot com and it changes the way I look at this device now. I could even going any wireless network and I can even stream from my Satellite HDD to the AC Ryan Media Player!
Fantastic review, bought one based on this review alone!
The cable is not proprietary, it is actually just a standard microUSB 3 cable. Also, in a pinch, you can use a standard microUSB 2 cable by just plugging into the appropriate connector on the GoFlex adapter. This is a bonus to me since I read it was proprietary. Nice to know you can buy any cable off Ebay if something happens to the one it comes with!