Seagate GoFlex Satellite Mobile Wireless Storage (500GB)

The Seagate GoFlex Satellite Mobile Wireless Storage drive ($199.99 for 500GB) is essentially high-capacity storage for your iPad, iPhone, or other iOS-based devices. you can use it to store a bunch of video, music, and photo files without having to use your iOS device’s internal storage. It can help if you’re the kind of power user that’s always syncing new videos to your iPad and deleting old videos off to make room. if that sounds familiar, and if you’re savvy enough to handle file management on your iOS device, then the GoFlex Satellite might be for you.

Design and Features The GoFlex Satellite looks similar to Seagate’s other GoFlex hard drives, it has a glossy black top shell and matte sliver colored plastic frame wrapping around three of its four sides. The bottom is matte black plastic with four rubber feet. There’s a power button on one side, a power jack on the opposite side, and one of the four vertical surfaces is a door that pops off to expose the GoFlex interface. you can use the GoFlex interface to directly connect the drive to a PC or Mac, and Seagate sells a bunch of cables, including FireWire 800 and eSATA. The GoFlex Satellite comes with a USB 3.0 cable, which is also backwards-compatible to USB 2.0.

The drive is a little heavier than other portable hard drives, since it weighs just under 10 ounces. To put that in perspective, that’s still a few ounces less than a can of soda. I’d recommend buying a case for the drive: Even though it’s ruggedized a bit to take shocks while in your travel bag; the outer shell is the type of glossy black plastic that will show scuffs and fingerprints easily. The top of the drive has two indicator lights: one for the built-in wireless router, the other for power/battery.

The drive is basically a 500GB SATA hard drive (spinning at 5,400rpm) hooked up to a tiny Wi-Fi router with WPA security. when you first startup the GoFlex Satellite, the router starts broadcasting a Wi-Fi signal that supports up to three devices. Seagate limited the access to three devices to ensure that all three could view videos simultaneously. There’s no Internet access, but Seagate says that ‘Net access may be a feature in the future. Basically, the GoFlex Satellite creates its own local Wi-Fi network that can serve media files to any device that can play media and surf the Web, but the drive works particularly well with iOS devices like iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touch. Once you load the drive with music, photos, and videos, the drive streams the media to your device.

Imagine it: you can setup a temporary private network so only you and your colleagues can look at and share a business presentation and supporting files. Another use for the GoFlex Satellite might be as a repository for all your family’s videos, so your kids can view them on their iPod Touch devices on a long car trip. Up to three kids or adults can be entertained. The drive’s battery is rated to last up to 5 hours while serving data, but you can extend that by using the included USB car charger. The drive comes with an AC USB adapter as well, and both the AC and car adapter can be used to charge an iPad or iPhone (with the right cable). Note that the drive has no connectivity to the Internet at this time. if you want to surf the Web on your iOS device, you’ll have to connect to another wireless router or use your 3G connection. Seagate says it is working on a way to access the Internet and the drive simultaneously.

Loading the drive is relatively easy: just drag and drop your MP3s, jpegs, and MP4 videos on the drive after hooking it up via USB. on Macs, the installer will walk you through installing a NTFS driver (the drive is formatted to NTFS so it works with files larger than 4GB). The drive also comes with Seagate’s Media Sync program, which searches for then copies media files on the drive. you can set Media sync to copy only the files that work on iPhones, only the files that work on iPads, or a combination of all files. The first time I copied over 200GB of files to the drive it took a couple of hours, but subsequent sync sessions were quick. I hope Seagate will add a counter or status bar to the Media Sync program: I couldn’t tell how long it would take to sync up, the spinning busy icon was the only indication that something was happening. one thing to note is that if you’re syncing a large library, make sure you plug the drive in with the included AC adapter: USB is powerful enough for a quick sync, but long transfer sessions can deplete the GoFlex Satellite’s battery to the point that the drive disconnects (as it did during a test session), even though the USB port is providing power.

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