REVIEW: Seagate Wireless Plus

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Almost everyone these days has a smartphone and/or tablet with them, and many use it as their primary form of consuming music and movies while on the go. However, the devices themselves only come with a small amount of storage and while this might be enough for some, for others not so much.

So, what to do? Seagate might have an answer with its Wireless Plus external hard drive.

Hardware

Inside is a 1TB hard drive, which is large enough to accommodate a lot of music and movies for a long-distance trip (Seagate claims to let you hold up to 500 HD movies). And while you can use it as a traditional external hard drive, the main purpose is in its name – it is designed to stream your media and access to documents wirelessly by creating a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Aesthetic-wise, it looks like your everyday portable external hard drive with its very minimalist design. The only thing that disrupts this minimalist look is the LED lights at the front. The build quality is pretty good as well.

Setting up

Setting up the device for the first time isn’t that hard, but also somewhat complex depending on the platform. It’s also a very slow process – largely because of the time to get the Wi-Fi hotspot ready after pressing the button. It’s not extremely long, but it’s a noticeable delay.

Browsing content are done through the Seagate Media app – which is available on iOS and Android, but can also be accessed via your browser if you go to seagatewireless.com whilst connected to the Wireless Plus. This means that you can easily access your content on Windows Phones, Windows tablets and all laptops.

The app is also used to manage the Wireless Plus settings – which means that you will need to connect to the drive first in order to put a password and to enable internet access. The latter is done by connecting to another Wi-Fi connection. While it does save the password, it does not automatically reconnect when you turn it off and on again.

You can also directly hookup your television to the device by connecting it to your Apple TV via Airplay, any DLNA-enabled device, or through the Seagate Media app for Samsung Smart TVs and Blu-Ray players.

To put content on the device, you will need to connect the USB 3.0 adapter (included) to the drive’s Universal Storage Module port before being able to plug it into the computer. For Windows computers, you can start dragging-and-dropping files. Mac users, on the other hand, will need to install additional software before being able to do the same.

Performance and Use

Battery life will obviously be based on how you use it. Seagate says that the battery life is up to ten hours, but we managed to get around six hours with one device connected and constantly streaming movies. If you connect more devices – the Wireless Plus can handle up to eight concurrent connections – then the battery life will drop significantly. If you plan to connect to the max number of devices, then you should consider plugging it in with its AC adapter.

I should also stress that you can also charge the device via the USB cable, however that will disable the Wi-Fi hotspot.

The app itself is functional but there are some issues with it. For some reason, the native iOS app I was using performs better with the Seagate Central than the Wireless Plus. It should be noted that the app will only play content that 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.

Conclusions

  • Score:

    7.0 / 10

  • The Good:

    Large 1TB storage to store your files; Cross-platform support via native and included web app

  • The Bad:

    App is a bit buggy – especially the browser app; the set-up process is long and slow; battery life

  • Bottom Line:

    Great for those wanting to play their movies and music on-the-go, and on any device.

While it could be used as an everyday external hard drive, the Wireless Plus is primarily designed to satisfy one specific task – that is, to let you access media on a tablet or smartphone and avoid the size limits on those devices on the go. That task will no doubt have a small niche – parents who want to use it to keep their child entertained, travellers who want to watch their own TV shows during flights, and those who plan to travel the Melbourne-Sydney train route and need a distraction.

The price tag will certainly put people off – the recommended retail price is $249. If you’re looking for an external hard drive, this is not for you. The Wireless Plus is for those who are in that aforementioned niche market, and they will be satisfied by the drive.