Review: Seagate Wireless Plus

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With the debut of the Wireless Plus at CES this past January, I've been eagerly awaiting my shot at testing out Seagate's brand new wireless media hard drive. After ditching my MacBook Air – and all of it's storage – for the iPad, having portable storage on the go is a must. I opted for the 32gb version of the iPad 3 which really gives you no room for saving all of your files, music and movies.

After the demo of this device and the app that comes with it, I couldn't wait to get my grubby hands on it. Giving me the portable and wireless storage I need on the go will make my and everyone else's lives so much more convenient. I've had the device strong for about 3 weeks, giving it the one-two and really seeing if it can stand up over time and make an on-the-go blogger's life easier. Did it live up to my expectations? Read on and you'll see…

Design

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First off, let me start by saying this little drive is absolutely gorgeous. I know I say a lot of things are beautiful, but Seagate really set the bar on how hard drives should look. I've owned almost every brand of portable hard drive and they all really look the same. Lately we have a boost of bright colors, but nothing really aesthetically sound.

The overall size of the drive is perfect, if fits great in your hand and is small enough for easy transport. I know you won't be holding it in your hand often, but to me it was nice to know that a full TB of storage wasn't going to plummet from my grip to the cold and unforgiving ground. The drive is made of plastic but it doesn't give you that cheap look of plastic. The top of the drive has a gray brushed metal look while the rest of the drive has a soft-touch matte black finish. The gray top doesn't feel as sturdy as I'd like it to, but you would never be able to tell by just looking at it. There are also 4 soft touch feet that barely stick out of the bottom to keep the drive from sliding all over the place, something that really helps when using this to stream your content in the car.

Graced with only a small Seagate logo and two indicator lights on the top, one for power and the other, which flashes blue, for the wifi signal. A small power button on the left side and the DC-in port on the other for charging. The top short end has a small and very hidden cover that you can pop off giving you access SATA connection, which you can use with the included SATA-USB 3.0 adapter.

Setting The Drive Up

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The Wireless Plus is pretty much just ready to go the second you take it out of the box. Just turn it on, plug it in and start your transferring of files. Included for all you Mac OS X users is a small .dmg that you'll need to load before gaining you full access. It works as any normal drive would, pops up in Finder (or Computer for you Windows users) and all you do is drag and drop.

It comes pre-loaded with a few folders, for music, videos, photos, etc, and each one of those folders has sample files for you to test out. Loaded with gorgeous clips and photos for you to really get a feel of how the drive performs when using the mobile app.

Connecting with your mobile device is very simple, after booting the drive up, you'll just access your wifi settings and you should see the option to join Seagate Wireless 3L6, which joins as any other wifi network would.

The apps are available for free in both the App Store as well as the Google Play Market.

Performance and Battery Life

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Writing a 4.7gb transferred at about 33.8mb/s, utilizing the USB 3.0 wasn't an option for me as my iMac isn't 3.0 ready. It did transfer that entire file only taking 2 minutes and 24 seconds. Reading from the drive via the Seagate app was almost close to perfect. I had no buffering or sync issues during all my tests. I utilized this device during my commute home from work, which is about 50 minutes, being able to watch a 42-44 minute television mp4 seamlessly was impressive. Speeds were phenomenal and gave no issues whatsoever. Streaming music was also an easy and non-problematic time. Even while streaming 1080p films to my iPad and iPhone gave no issues whatsoever.

Even when connected to the Wireless Plus' wifi signal, you should have no issues utilizing the cellular signal through your phone, but I noticed an issue when attempting to send iMessages. Receiving was flawless, but when sending iMessages to my wife, I noticed it hanging and never sending. The second I would disconnect from wifi it would finish the task of sending. I had no other issues accessing content requiring a connection to the interwebs, it was only iMessage that gave issues.

As far as the battery life, I was really disappointed, Seagate claims up to 10 hours of battery life, they do state that this can change upon model, usage conditions and configurations, but with my usage, I was way off. I would fully charge the device and only gain around 5 hours of usage. This was streaming 720p television shows. When swapping to high 1080p resolution movies, I lost time. I could usually get around 3 and a half to 4 hours of streaming. Music gave closer to the 10 hours, if not passing it up. But to listen to 10 hours worth of music more than one time was too difficult for me. But I will say music and document streaming will definitely give you closer to that claimed battery life.

App

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The mobile app is really where this drive shines, especially compared to the first version that was released for the GoFlex Satellite. I never used it, but during my research for this unit, and from what we were told during the demo of this at CES, this app is a welcomed update.

This review includes only the iOS usage, I can't speak for Android, but during the demo we had the chance to test out both an iPad and a Samsung (if I recall) tablet, and it seemed to be a lot choppier using Android over iOS, but that is just because the iPad does everything better! – Sorry, I had to!!

That app is set to view everything as a thumbnail, which can be changed to more of an indexed look, but I don't recommend it, it's quite ugly. The thumbnail view is simple and gorgeous. One downfall about the design of the app is the difference in layout between iPhone and iPad. The iPhone version will only view in vertical mode while the iPad will only display horizontally. Obviously you can change this when viewing a video, but for jumping through the app this is all you have.

As I said earlier, streaming was seamless, no issues whatsoever. A good thing to note when streaming music is you can close the app (as you can with Pandora and the like) and use your device without having to keep the app open. This is a huge plus, especially for those that love to stream music but have an extensive music collection that can't afford a monthly streaming service.

One other issue when using with an iOS device is that Apple won't allow the playback of every video extension, this is sad, but if you've been apart of the iOS family for any length of time, you'll probably be used to it.

You can copy files from the drive to a local storage contained within the app, this will really come in handy when you see the device starting to die, when I cam about 10% life, I still had 45 minutes of my commute left, I was able to download the video I was watching to local storage so I could continue to watch long after the device died. It's the little things like this that keep me happy.

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I haven't used many streaming NAS like devices, but I can compare this to the Western Digital MyBook Live, and I'll say that the mobile experience is far superior. I know one is a wifi signal from the drive compared to an actual cellular connection, but the experience is much more pleasant when using Seagate.

Another great feature is the ability to stream to the Apple TV via AirPlay. You can also copy items from the Camera Role to the Wireless Plus, which will help you in your back up of photos and videos, clearing up space on your device. A nice update to this would be the ability to send things to the drive from 3rd party apps and other areas of your device.

You can search by file name which really comes in handy if you have a lot of junk stored in the app. And sorting, especially in the Audio section is great. You can sort by album, song, artist, playlist and genre.

Wrap Up

Even though there were a few hiccups here and there, my time with the Wireless Plus was amazing. This made my on-the-go lifestyle so much more enjoyable. I highly recommend the purchase for anyone that spends a lot of time roaming around. If you only have the time to catch up on TV, film and music when you are on the go, this will be your best friend. I have a family so when I'm commuting on the light rail or just want to finally listen to that new album I downloaded, the Wireless Plus has my back.

Capacity as of right now is only 1TB, and will cost your wallet $199. When considering the storage size, this seems like a lot, but for what it does, and when you throw in the gorgeous FREE app, it makes sense.

Streaming up to 3 different films to 3 different devices is a huge plus for me, when having two iPads and multiple iPhones in my household, being able to keep my kids and wife happy all while I listen to music while traveling is a huge win. I was able to not stream music via the normal services, use Netflix for movies and television, and I kept all my important documents on this device instead of in the cloud. Yeah you have to do a little legwork by getting the files to the drive, but it wasn’t an issue as I would usually be at my desktop doing other things to begin with.

The Seagate Wireless Plus is a perfect buy and really will satisfy anyone that is a mobile user of all that is digital. Movies, music, photos and documents are all being kept in the Cloud, but if you can have that personal terabyte cloud in your pocket, you can't go wrong. I think the best combination is a 16gb iPhone or iPad with this device. Keep your apps on the device and all of your content in your personal cloud. Once we have option to copy more content from our devices to the Wireless Plus, this will definitely be a must have for everyone.

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About Author

Apple fanboy, alcoholic and video game player. I love all things 8-bit. I enjoy a good microbrew but love to drink the Pabst Blue Ribbon. I've been writing on blogs for a few years now, settling at Gadgetsteria.com in 2010, and now in 2014, Bitbitbyte.

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