Review – Seagate Wireless Plus 1TB mobile storage device

Most of us have no problem creating and saving data. Movies, music, word processing, images - you name it, and we probably have it. The problem is how to keep all that data organized, how to find it when we need it, and how to share the data. Over the past few years we have seen a steady increase in network attached storage (NAS) with Seagate having among the most experience in this area. We have reviewed their excellent systems in the past, so were interested in their latest take on the technology.

Seagate’s recently introduced Seagate Central and Wireless Plus storage solutions are the latest refinement of their vision of shared data. A bit of history is in order here. The first product we looked at years ago was a Maxtor (now owned by Seagate) media-based NAS device. Step forward a few years to a portable version of that device called the Seagate GoFlex Satellite that allowed an iPad or Android tablet to wirelessly access 500GBs of data, and share that data with other users. We tested that unit and found it really opened up the possibility of data use, and I filled one up with data, and coupled it with a Samsung Tab 10.1 found myself in New Zealand and Poland with a small portable powerful computing solution with all the data I could ever need wirelessly streamed when needed. We also looked at competing devices that relied on flash memory that had the advantage of longer battery life, faster access, and a smaller footprint, but with a far less capacity. Since I needed to reference larger files, the GoFlex Satellite quickly became a favorite companion.

The updated Wireless Plus updates the original unit, adding USB 3 for fast transfer speeds, ability to interact with just about any system you want to use it with, from Windows Vista and XP through iOS 4.3 and higher and Android 2.3 to current, in addition to OS X 10.6 and higher. It also has DNLA, and will work natively with Samsung TV’s and Blu-ray players. Obviously, you shouldn’t worry about compatibility. The battery life holds up throughout the day, but playing larger media files, i.e., movies, will shorten the time. The Wireless Plus is now a 1TB drive, and the Seagate Media app is available for either Android or iOS. I found myself using the new app on a regular basis, which has come a long way since its initial release for the GoFlex Satellite. It is faster, more stable, and the new unit’s range is 150 feet, which I was amazed at. I even tried it during a lecture where I stored data on the Wireless Plus and walked around with an iPad completely wirelessly with no latency issues.

Up to eight tablets and smartphones can access the unit simultaneously. Think of a portable hard drive; add a battery, antenna, browser, Wi-Fi hotspot, and you have the kind of device Doc Brown would have marveled at in Hill Valley. You can add files to the drive with USB or wirelessly using either a browser or the dedicated apps. The reviewers guide states “A common request from users regarding the Seagate Wireless Plus predecessor, the GoFlex Satellite, was to enable their tablet or smartphone to access the Internet while streaming media at the same time. We addressed this request in a previous firmware update for the GoFlex Satellite product and the Seagate Wireless Plus product will ship with the capability built-in.”  This was, in fact, a vital upgrade. Having this feature in the shipping versions of Wireless Plus is welcome news. Well done, Seagate!

Another option is to format the drive as a Mac volume. It ships standard as a NTFS drive, but now also ships with software to format as a Mac volume. OS 10.6 and above can read and write to a NTFS volume natively, but there are times when it is handy to have a Mac volume for Mac use, as it simplifies disk repair and recovery, works with older OS versions, and naming conventions are respected, something that doesn’t always happen with NTFS drives on a Mac. If you own both platforms, you have a couple of choices. First would be the use of Paragon’s excellent software to mount a Mac drive on a Windows system, or their software to improve upon using a Windows drive on a Mac. Or you can just stick with the NTFS format, and see if all works for you. Either way, you have a choice and Seagate made this choice easy.

The folks at Seagate have been good tech citizens when it comes to providing timely updates to the software and firmware of their products, and wireless devices are probably the most demanding class of storage devices. I’ve updated the GoFlex Satellite and Wireless Plus using the Android and iOS applications, and I’ve also downloaded the FW update file and loaded into the root level of the drive, and let it do its work. Either way was painless and I had no issues afterward and welcomed the improvements. I did of course backup my data before applying the update, prudent for any update, but so far it has been smooth sailing.

The Seagate Plus comes with a 3-year warranty, an important consideration especially for a portable device. If you are looking for a well-thought out and refined portable wireless solution to stream and access your data, the Seagate Wireless Plus comes highly recommended.

Harris Fogel, with additional reporting by Frank Schramm, posted 11/13/13

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