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Seagate GoFlex Satellite - Mobile Wireless Storage

It's time to wrap up this series on hard drives, which has been using the Seagate GoFlex line of drives to demonstrate the range of options available -- from desktop to portable to shirt-pocket slim (see previous post).

But why worry about physical interfaces, when today it's all about cutting the cable? Instead, you can connect to the Seagate GoFlex Satellite Drive via Wi-Fi. Going wireless means the disk not only works with computers, but also with portable devices including the Apple iPad and iPhone.

With this handheld drive (it's 4.72 x 3.54 x 0.87 in. and 0.59 lbs.), you can bring along additional media clips and documents, and access them from your portable device -- that's 500 more GB for around $179.

The idea is that you first load up the Satellite drive with all your files (yes, by plugging in a physical cable to your computer), and then you can detach and take it on the road as auxiliary storage for stuff you want to enjoy and share.

Note that this is not like adding an external hard drive to your device to allow you to drag and drop masses of files. Instead, the GoFlex Satellite is intended to be an auxiliary stash of media and document files that you can browse and view and stream. You can store some 300 HD movies, 125,000 songs, or 100,000 photos, and access them from up to three computers or portable devices at once.

Of course, when you plug the Satellite directly into your computer it mounts like any other external drive. You then can drag and drop the files that you want to carry on the drive, or use the Seagate Media Sync software for PC or Mac. And with the GoFlex adapters, you can choose between disk interfaces for USB 3.0 / 2.0, FireWire 800, and/or Powered eSATA.

Then when you dismount the drive it switches to operating as Wi-Fi hub. When you turn it on, a network called "GoFlex Satellite" appears in the list of available networks on your computer or device, so you connect to the drive just like any other wireless network.

However, when you connect to the drive instead of your network router, you're no longer connected to the Internet, so how do you actually access the contents of the drive?

One way is to use a web browser -- the drive redirects any web address access to the GoFlex Media interface, which lets you browse and play the disk contents.

Or on portable devices you also can use the free GoFlex Media app for the iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Android tablets, and smartphones.

Both the app and browser interfaces share the same design -- you can browse your files by type (Videos, Photos, Music, Documents), or by folders on the drive. Then click to display / play the file.

The GoFlex Media interface does support a limited mechanism for downloading individual files from the drive onto your device, though the app mechanism controls playback and manages the downloaded files internally. There also is an upload feature to copy from your device to the drive which is prototyped but not yet implemented.

The Satellite drive has drop sensor protection. It runs on a rechargeable battery for 5 hours of streaming, or 25 hours on standby. It trickle charges through the USB data interface, or has a separate power adapter (though USB) for faster charging.

See my Portable Storage Gallery for more on portable drives, from USB keys to desktop drives.

And see my Holiday Gadgets 2011: Portable and Wireless feature for more on storage and other holiday goodies.

Find the Seagate GoFlex Satellite Drive on Amazon.com

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