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Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex TV HD Media Player review

Seth Barton
4 Sep 2010
Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex TV HD Media Player
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
89
inc VAT

A good little media player, with full support of Blu-ray menus from ripped ISOs, but it needs a few tweaks to beat the competition.

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Last month we reviewed a Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex 500GB portable hard disk. Its clever design lets you connect a range of adaptors for different interfaces, such as USB, FireWire and eSATA. In addition, without any adaptor, the drives can be plugged directly via their SATA connectors in to a variety of peripherals – including this HD media player.

The GoFlex TV has a smart-looking and compact casing. A door at the front flicks down to reveal that most of its interior is a bay for GoFlex portable drives. Even if you don’t have such a drive, the whole device is so small we can’t see anyone complaining about the unwanted bay.

You can connect other storage devices to the two USB ports - one on the right-hand side and the other on the rear – but there’s no built-in memory card reader for reading photos directly from SD cards. As well as accessing files from USB devices, you can stream them across a network from UPnP media servers or Windows shared folders.

Other ports include HDMI, an optical S/PDIF and two minijacks. Supplied breakout leads convert the latter into AV and component outputs. There’s a 10/100 Ethernet port, and 802.11n wireless can be added via a USB adaptor (part number: 100620155), it’s not yet available in the UK but should cost around £30. It’s tiny and so won’t make the GoFlex TV any bulkier, but it will of course use up one of the two USB ports.

Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex TV HD Media Player

The compact remote control is comfortable to hold, and has decently sized buttons, which are logically laid out and clearly labelled. The main menu is divided into Movies, Pictures, Music, Internet and Browse. The first three options quickly searched our attached storage and displayed all the relevant files - it had trouble recognising a couple, but nothing that couldn't be solved by renaming a few unusual file extensions.

We were worried when our music came up in a gigantic A-Z list, but from the menu you can sort it by albums, artists, genres, years and playlists - or switch to a thumbnail display. Photos and videos have smaller ranges of appropriate options. It remembers which filters you have set, so you don’t have to tell it again every time you switch it on.

It recognised both ripped Blu-ray and DVD ISOs, with full support for menus and subtitling - though chapter skip only worked on DVDs. You can switch between audio tracks easily, so no getting stuck with an audio commentary. It remembers where you left each movie, so you can resume playback the next time you select that file.

It will output loseless PCM to a compatible AV receiver but only up to 48KHz, so you won’t get the same high-fidelity audio as you would usually from Blu-ray movies. We saw no problems with playback of Blu-ray video, or AVCHD files directly from our camcorder. Video codec support is excellent and you can wind through footage at up to 32x speed.

The Internet option lets you access content from popular sites, primarily YouTube, Picasa and Flickr; but also vTuner for internet radio, and a mish-mash of bizarre IPTV offerings. Everything works fine, but we were disappointed not get the option of HD playback from YouTube. Of course, the device itself supports all HD resolutions up to 1080p.

Our main problem with the GoFlex TV is its slightly chaotic menu system. It seems like the designers were worried you wouldn’t find a certain option, and so made three different shortcuts for everything. We also found it sluggish to react sometimes, it’s nothing that couldn’t be polished up in a firmware update, but as of going to press no updates were available for our boxed retail unit.

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