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Review: Seagate Wireless Plus

Parkinson’s law says that work expands to fit the time allotted for it, and the same could be said for multimedia files and smartphone or tablet space. Most users will come to a moment when they have more files you want to sync than they have free space.

Seagate’s Wireless Plus solves that problem. It’s essentially an external hard drive with a built-in wireless router, and it solves the problem of not having enough space on your smartphone or tablet by offering extra hard drive space that’s accessible via a wireless connection. The Wireless Plus is an updated version of the Seagate GoFlex Satellite Wireless hard drive that Adel reviewed — and liked — a while ago.

The styling is based on the Seagate Backup Plus line of external hard drives, complete with removable adapters for different kinds of connectors. The review unit came with the USB 3.0 adapter; FireWire and eSATA adapters are also available. The Wireless Plus is a little wider and longer than the Backup Plus, and is about the size and thickness of a regular paperback. The enclosure is still plastic, but looks much classier than the shiny enclosure sported by the GoFlex Satellite.

The updated features include larger capacity (1TB), longer battery life (up to 10 hours), pass-through Internet connection (for iOS devices only), and a new desktop app for managing media files.

As a device for augmenting your phone or tablet’s capacity, the Seagate Wireless Plus is easy and straightforward to use. Just plug it into your computer as you would any other hard drive, and move your files over into the designated media folders (photos, videos, documents, etc.). It’s pre-formatted as NTFS, but Mac users have the option of either reformatting it for the Mac, or installing the bundled Paragon NTFS app to let them write to the drive. Charge the device, then turn it on. Connect your device or computer to the Wireless Plus’ signal, then use the Seagate Media app (free on the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store) to access your files.

A few caveats, though. Only videos in formats playable on your device will stream properly. That means iTunes-friendly mp4 and m4v formats for iOS devices, and you might have to convert your videos first before you can stream them to your iPhone or iPad. AVI files appeared to stream but had no video and audio, and MKV files did not even start streaming. On a computer, you just open a browser and type in the easy-to-rememebr URL “www.seagatewireless.com” to access the files. On my Mac, I could only stream the mp4 and m4v files. Clicking on the MKV file just prompted a download of the files.

Streaming a 1080p version of The Hobbit to both my iPad and MacBook was not a problem: the video streamed smoothly, with no noticeable lag or stutter. Some comments in online forums noted, though, that HD videos tended to lag when streaming to several devices at once, but I didn’t get to try streaming the files to more than two devices at once.

Internet pass-through is a boon. You can connect the Wireless Plus to another network, then have it share the connection to your device. You can protect your Wireless Plus network with a password, and you can hide your drive from other users on the network it’s connected to as well. A neat, and necessary, feature.

What else can you use it for besides storing entire seasons of TV shows you want to catch up on? Using it as a media server for long trips is one. Family or barkada trips with long drives or long bus rides. Ad hoc movie watching sessions in places with WiFi-ready televisions. Easy file sharing of large files such as homemade videos or huge photosets.

If you plan to use the Wireless Plus as a media bank, then you’d be better off installing the bundled Seagate Media Sync app on your computer as well. It lets you designate certain folders for automatic syncing with the Wireless Plus.

The price is a little steep at Php9,900 (by comparison, a plain 1TB Seagate Backup Plus is about Php3,700), and calls for second and third thoughts. There are also other shortcomings like the limited organization options of the Seagate app (it lumps all videos together in a single view, for example, even though they’ve been segregated in different subfolders), the large number of doodads you have to keep track of (proprietary adapter, USB cable, AC adapter, USB-to-AC adapter cable, and the need to charge from an AC outlet (you can also charge from a laptop USB port, but it takes a loooooooooong time).

On the whole, I like the Wireless Plus enough to consider getting one of my own, splitting the 1TB into two partitions, using one as a Time Machine backup drive and the other for keeping archives and large files that I can access from iPhone, iPad, or MacBook Pro.

Likes:
• Large capacity
• Easy to operate
• Long battery life

Dislikes:
• Media app has only rudimentary features
• Expensive

Jason

Jason

Jason de Villa is teacher by day and a geek at all other times of the day. When he’s not teaching, he’s reading and writing about technology, looking for ways technology can help in education. His favorite noodles: Pancit Malabon Express.

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