Seagate GoFlex Satellite review
The Seagate GoFlex Satellite is a network attached storage (NAS) device with a difference. It can stream films, music and photos to iOS and Android tablets and smartphones wirelessly thanks to its built-in battery and Wi-Fi hotspot. The 500GB hard disk should be more than large enough for all but the biggest media collections - especially appealing for owners of iOS devices which don't have memory card slots for adding more storage.
You copy media files onto the Satellite over its USB3 connection, either by dragging and dropping or through a synchronisation utility. The battery is also charged over USB, with a second 5V-to-USB cable and a wall adapter provided if your computer's USB ports don't provide enough power. The Satellite's USB3 port is actually removable so you could use one of Seagate's other interface adapters, such as FireWire or eSATA. The disk must be formatted as NTFS, and an NTFS driver is provided for Mac users who would otherwise be unable to write files to the disk.
Smartphones and tablets connect to the Satellite over Wi-Fi using a free media player app. By default, the Satellite's wireless network isn't password-protected, but this can be secured easily enough from within the app. The Satellite can't bridge your existing wireless network, so if you want to access the internet you'll have to switch back to your usual network.
We tested the Satellite with the iOS version of the app and had no trouble accessing stored videos and music. It can only play file formats already supported by iOS, such as H.264 video, so non-supported ones will have to be converted first. Up to three devices can play the same video file at once, although niceties found in Apple's Videos app, such as chapters and optional subtitles, aren't supported. Videos do resume playing from where you left off, though.
The Music player is fairly sophisticated. Music can be browsed by ID3 tags, such as artist, genre and album. There's also an option to create playlists, but you can't import your playlists from iTunes. Swiping between photos can be sluggish depending on the size and resolution of the images. Office and PDF files stored on the Satellite can also be viewed. Since the app relies on Apple's built-in PDF and Office file viewers, the results may not quite match what you see on your PC, although they can also be opened in other office apps if you have them.
With 500GB of storage, finding a specific file could be a chore, so thankfully there's the option to search by filename. Files can also be downloaded from the Satellite to your tablet or smartphone, space permitting, so the most crucial ones are still available offline. Files can't be uploaded to the Satellite, though, so you can't free up space on your phone or tablet. Sadly, apart from a red low battery light there's no battery life indicator, either on the Satellite itself or in the app. In our tests, the battery lasted a reasonable four and a half hours when looping an H.264 video.
The GoFlex Satellite is, overall, cleverly designed. It will be of most use to people with multiple smartphones and/or tablets, who travel regularly (but not on planes where Wi-Fi is often prohibited) and who like to have access to all their files wherever they are. The Satellite is very similar to the slimmer Kingston Wi-Drive 16GB and the two are broadly matched in terms of software features. The two differ most in hardware – the Satellite has the advantage of a USB3 connection and far more storage space. However, the hard disk makes the Satellite larger and pricier than the Wi-Drive, and it may not survive drops as well as the Wi-Drive's 16GB of flash memory. Whether the Satellite is right for you depends on whether you prioritise storage capacity over size and ruggedness.
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