REVIEW: Seagate Central

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Believe it or not, this is a NAS system. However, while it doesn’t look like the big and bulky systems that we typically expect, the Seagate Central does what it is designed to do – let you share your documents and media across several devices on your network, and store backups of those files just in case you lose them.

However, while it’s fun just to describe what it can do just from the spec sheet; we need to ask a bigger question. Especially because the Seagate Central is targeted towards the everyday consumer who wants to plug this in and have it all work. We need to ask does it just work?

Design

The Seagate Central doesn’t look like your typical NAS system – it’s not big and bulky, and is aligned horizontally not vertically. The reason is likely due to the single hard drive bay is not accessible, meaning that you can’t remove and replace a hard drive if it dies.

The only way to replace the hard drive is sending it back to Seagate for repair or replacement “after a major failure” – which they remind you as your right under the Australian Consumer Law. That said, any repair or replacement will likely result in you losing all of the data stored on the hard drive. So make sure you backup everything.

It also has have a vented top in order to keep the drive cool. At the back, the Central provides an ethernet port, a USB 2.0 port to attach additional storage – which does prove handy if you have a friend wanting to share music or movies – and the power supply port.

Simple Setup and Use

The Seagate Central is targeted towards consumers, and as such setting it up is pretty simple. All you need to do is connect the device to a spare Ethernet port and wait until it appears in your network. Then you can manage it by visiting the device’s webpage through the handy shortcut link at the root directory.

The Seagate Central also has user accounts so that each individual person can store files and documents in a locked folder, as opposed to the Public folder where everyone connected to that network can access. The user accounts also allow you to access your files from anywhere through its remote access feature – so if you want to stream music from your home when you’re abroad, now you can.

The device also can be used to backup files – either through its own Seagate Dashboard app or via Time Machine. Interestingly enough, it can also backup photos and video from your Facebook profile. For those who love uploading their holiday snaps to Facebook, this will prove useful just in case if you have misplaced those photos after years of storing them in a folder. That said, I wish it would extend to other services like Flickr. That way, there is a copy of that photo somewhere – on the computer, in the cloud, or in some external storage device.

What I like about the Seagate Central is the variety of ways you can play and/or view your photos, audio and video. Other than the aforementioned remote access and finding it through your network, you can also connect to it from your Android and iOS device via the Seagate Media app. It should detect the Seagate Central on the network after you install it.

The app itself performs well and is usable. The design is not what I would like, but that’s probably just me. What’s important is that you can use the app – and it certainly ticks that box. However, the content you can play on the device is limited to what your smartphone can play – for instance, you won’t be able to play any .mkv or .ogg files – from the native player. In some cases, you will need to use a third-party client to play such files.

You can also access content via your television – on Samsung Smart TVs, you can download the Seagate Media app; otherwise, you can browse and view content from the Central to your TV if you have a DLNA certified device. Again, some content may not play due to the file type not being supported by your TV.

Performance

In terms of performance, I was getting reasonably fast speeds when transferring and playing back data. There were no hitches in streaming music or movies from computers and devices I’d tried it on (such as my brother’s Windows PC, my laptop, a Galaxy S3 and an iPod touch). However, most of this is subjective – it will depend on your router.

Conclusions

  • Score:

    8.0 / 10

  • The Good:

    Access to your content from many devices including remotely; easy to setup and get running; large storage capacity in a small package

  • The Bad:

    Hard drive cannot be replaced if it fails; does get noisy in quiet areas

  • Bottom Line:

    A NAS system with painless setup and easy install, making it easy for everyday consumers who just want to share their media across devices.

In the introduction, I asked if this device just works – and the answer to that is yes. It is a NAS device that is easy to install and painless to setup on your home network. As well, while it can store documents, the Central is predominantly focused in getting your media across all devices so you don’t have to play around with folder sharing or using external hard drives to share files across.

What does concern me is what happens when the hard drive fails. You cannot simply replace the hard drive. As mentioned above, they remind you that they will replace or refund the product if a “major failure” occurs under the Australian Consumer Law. However, that does not mean your data will be backed up to that new device – so, again, keep a backup of your files.

The Seagate Central is available in 2TB, 3TB and 4TB storage capacities, with a starting price of $199.