In a world where sometimes you just can’t find the space to take it with you when you go, and by that we’re referring to your media and not your money, Seagate offers a slightly unique solution. Enter the GoFlex Satellite portable hard drive extraordinaire, a “NAS” of a different color. Here’s a closer look.

Of course in the looks department, it doesn’t quite set a new standard, not that there’s a whole lot one can do with the design of a hard drive. The GoFlex Satellite is however, as simple as they come with just a couple of things that set it apart from the rest of the portable hard drives, out there. On one side is a little Power button and on top are two LEDs to indicate battery power and connectivity. On another side is a DC socket, which isn’t necessary for powering up the device for data transfer, in the normal sense. The Satellite features a built-in Lithium battery that the company claims would run for 5 hours of video streaming.

Simple, neat but a whopper of a price tag

Simple, neat but with a whopper of a price tag

Seagate has provisioned the Satellite with their now somewhat customary port that supports Firewire, eSata and the attachment for connecting USB 3.0 (works with 2.0 as well) is also along for the ride. It’s a tad on the heavy side, considering the battery and 500GB of storage on board.

The black glossy finish looks trendy, but tends to get a little too ‘blemished’, if you’re not carrying this drive around in some sort of protective casing. Seagate has also thrown in a little plastic cover to keep the connector sockets on the drive enclosed when you’re carrying it around with you.

Connectivity is well provisioned for

Connectivity is well provisioned for

Functionality and Performance
Let’s be clear of something though, the GoFlex Satellite is not a NAS (Network Attached Storage) device although it may have some likeness in terms of usability.

The functionality of the device is as simple as it gets. If you’re an iOS user (iPhone, iPod, iPad) all you need to do is go to the App Store and download the GoFlex Media application for the device. It’s the same for Android users as well. The app for both operating systems is free and features a simple and neatly organized UI that also has its own search option to quickly locate files. You can also access the drive via the browser on your device. Typing in any random URL would auto direct you to the GoFlex Media browser UI.

For access anytime, anywhere

For access anytime, anywhere

Switching on the device activates the Hot Spot and as soon as the little green LED starts blinking, you’re good to go. You’ll need to go to your settings menu on your handset/tablet and connect to the GoFlex Wi-Fi and then open the app. With upto 3 devices connected to the Satellite, one can quite seamlessly stream media from it without an issue. You can also set a password for the device through the settings option in the app. Here’s the glitch though, once you’re connected to the device, you’re off the net. You’ll have no Internet connection, whatsoever for your e-mail, chats, social networking updates, etc. Although Wi-Fi is definitely the way to go for a device like this, perhaps Bluetooth just might have offered that little more by keeping your mobile Internet connection alive as well.

The range is set to about 30 feet, so don’t expect buffering to be too smooth through walls or at long distances. But within that range, all three devices that were connected to the Satellite worked without a hitch streaming away. If you’ve got the Seagate media sync software on your PC, all of your new media added to your list will auto sync when you attach your Satellite drive.

With it on and you're good to go, media in tow

Switch it on you're good to go, media in tow

Data Transfer Test
Keeping in mind that at the end of the day it’s all just a run of the mill portable hard drive, we ran a few data transfer tests on the Satellite. We used a single 4GB file as well as multiple files totaling 4GB for transfer to and from the device through USB 3.0 for our first test. For round two, we went wireless with a 500 MB file going to and from the drive again. The results are as below.

From PC to Drive
4GB Single File – 73.94 MB/s
4GB Multiple Files – 33.53 MB/s

From Drive to PC
4GB Single File – 75.85 MB/s
4GB Multiple Files – 73.94 MB/s

500MB over Wireless connection
PC to Drive –  2.04 MB/s
Drive to PC – 3.44 MB/s

Data transfer speeds proved to be quite decent as hard drives go. They were, as you can see, nothing overly spectacular but good enough to keep complaints at bay with no streaming issues.

For iOS users who hate the constraint of playing only the supported (H.264, MPEG4, Motion JPEG) formats, you’ll need to purchase a third party video player that supports all other formats. However, only those video apps that have a built-in browser will let you access the GoFlex Satellite drive. For Android users with similar third party video apps, it’s not a problem. When accessing a file, you’ll be given an option to choose your player. If your handset/tablet/Wi-Fi enabled PMP supports multiple formats out of the box, then you’re good to go.

Connect to your iapd for medi on the fly

Connect to your iapd for medi on the fly

The onboard battery lasted for almost 4 hours and 50 minutes in our test processes. That’s not too bad and pretty much lives up to the expectations that Seagate themselves have laid out. The drive can also be accessed, while it’s charging through a wall socket. Of course, you have to understand that Wi-Fi streaming tends to put a strain on your phone/tablet battery as well, so you might want to have a charger handy at all times.

The Bottom Line
The Seagate GoFlex Satellite is priced at Rs.10,900 for 500GB. This is the only model available at this time. While it has a unique-ish USP, it’s much too pricey, even if we do take into account the recent hike in hard drive prices due to the natural calamity in Thailand. The drive, nevertheless does what it’s supposed to do without any issues. The only problem you’ll have to actually contend with is the loss of data connectivity when hooked up to the Satellite. Other than that, if you must have as much of your media on the go with you at all times, then this could be the optimal solution for you aside from streaming off the cloud. Then again streaming off of EDGE really isn’t really much of a solution at all and 3G still needs to get just a little more affordable for it to be feasable.

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