An easy way to add a huge amount of storage to your smartphone or tablet, but the Seagate Wireless is still very much a niche device
Capacity: 500GB, Cost per gigabyte: £0.21, Interface: USB
With 500GB of storage, Wi-Fi and a built-in battery, the Seagate Wireless could be the ideal way to take all your multimedia files with you on the move, even if your smartphone or tablet has limited storage capacity.
The Seagate Media Android and iOS apps let you connect your device directly to the hard disk, and you can access its content on a PC or Mac using a web browser. We had no problems getting connected and accessing files through the Seagate Wireless interface, but couldn’t access the disk directly through Windows Explorer. You can upload individual files through the web interface, but for batch uploading you’ll need to connect the disk to your computer with the included USB cable.
Annoyingly you can’t enable Wi-Fi when the hard disk is plugged into a PC, but it will at least work when plugged into a USB mains adapter. You won’t have to worry about running out of power if you’re close to a plug socket, but you won’t be able to access content from a mobile device while you’re transferring new files from a computer.
The app is sensibly laid out and easy to navigate, with separate folders for music, photo, videos and documents. It takes a second or two to render a high-resolution image over Wi-Fi, and about 10 seconds to start playing a video, or longer depending on the bitrate and resolution. You can begin playing a music track then switch to a different app without interrupting playback, which is welcome. There are a few gaps in the app’s file format support, with the iOS app refusing to play MOV, FLAC and WMV files, among others, although you can open apps that do support such files and play them wirelessly from the disk.
Seagate claims the internal battery will last up to six hours – enough for two or three full-length films. This was largely in line with our testing, but we aren’t sure that this is an acceptable figure given the size of the hard disk. It could feasibly hold entire seasons of TV shows or hundreds of films, yet you’ll only be able to watch a small portion of those on your device before you run out of power. You’ll really have to want to have all your content with you all the time to justify the cost of this wireless drive.
It’s also a shame that the Wireless doesn’t have a USB3 connection, as it would have made it much more convenient for quickly throwing on a downloaded film or album before heading out the door. As it is, the USB2 connection could only manage 23.7MB/s write and 30.6MB/s read speeds when handling large files. This is admittedly close to the maximum throughput of USB2, but the small files test was significantly slower, with just 16.7MB/s writes and 22.2MB/s reads. If you’re planning on transferring a lot of photo albums to the drive, be prepared to wait.
At 21p per gigabyte the Seagate Wireless isn’t cheap, although the price is roughly in line with other Wi-Fi enabled external hard disks. If you have no way of adding extra storage space to your smartphone or tablet, and absolutely have to be able to access your content when away from your PC it’s probably worth the investment, but those who don’t need quite so much storage would be better off with the £25 Leef Bridge 3.0 dual USB flash drive, which will add 32GB of extra space to any USB OTG-ready device.
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