Every holiday families get together, picture are taken, video interviews are precariously recorded and yet no one ever views them. So how is a family to share all this media? Sure, you could spend countless hours uploading the contents of your hard drive to some file sharing service, but that’s just too many steps for all that its worth.
Enter the Seagate FreeAgent Dockstar. It’s a dock that enables you put your FreeAgent Go hard drive and up to 3 USB storage devices online and accessible any where there is an Internet connection…without any uploading.
While owning a FreeAgent Go portable hard drive isn’t mandatory, the draw here is that it is clearly designed for folks that have already made an investment in the FreeAgent Go hard drives, though it’s never too late to start.
Setting up the device requires little to no Networking knowledge. Just plug in its power, an Ethernet plug (connected to the Internet) and your choice of storage. After that you’ll just need to navigate to http://dockstar.pogoplug.com where the dock needs to be authorized. There’s no charge for the first year of service ($30/year after that), and if you haven’t already sussed it out, Seagate has chosen to use Cloud Engine’s popular Pogoplug technology to deal with all the online file sharing.
If you’re not familiar with Pogoplug, no worries, but its essentially a very clean and simple way to share files online. The interface was originally built for Cloud Engine’s Pogoplug device that turns any hard drive into a Network Attached Storage device. I guess Seagate liked it so much that they’ve decided to license the technology.
Once the Dockstar has been activated you’ll be redirected to a page where you can view your drive’s contents. Alternatively, those running the Pogoplug application on their PC will be able to access the drive as if it were a locally connected hard drive on their computer. In other words, files can be dragged and dropped to the Seagate FreeAgent Dockstar as if it were any other USB attached hard drive with no additional uploading.
Unlike DropBox (a free online storage service that also mounts like a local drive on your computer’s desktop) you can’t right click and create a public link to the file or folder in question. Instead, you’ll need to navigate back to the Dockstar website and create a public link.
And this is where the UI goes a bit sour. If you want to share a folder, of say pics, you can publish it to Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, rss feed or simply create a public URL for viewing. Since I didn’t want to share my personal pics with any of the aforementioned services I figured the public link was best, right? Wrong. The public link doesn’t allow your friends to easily download all the pics. Instead they’re required to wait for each one to load and then, and only then can they download one pic at a time. The only way to get around this is to share the drive’s entire contents (or create a compressed file), which then enables them to download the entire folder. Hopefully Pogoplug will fix this issue in the next software/website iteration, but it is very surprising to see this UI lacking since DropBox offers a simpler sharing solution out the gate and their service free.
Update: It looks like you can ‘invite people’ to share a folder. Once this is completed you can allow them to either have ‘full access’ or just ‘view/download’.
Also of note, the option to select/deselect the social services for sharing often resulted in the service hanging and required me to close out the page.
For those of you sporting an iPhone, you’ll be glad to here that there is an accompanying application. It enables you to access your drive’s contents from any where you might roam. This is nice if you’d like to view a large number of pics on your iPhone and lack the local storage. In the event that you’d like quick access to any of the pictures, Pogoplug allows you to download the image to your iPhone. Unfortunately, though, the same does not apply to music or movies. You can only stream stored movies or music, which is frustrating since these types of media tend to be larger and a greater tax on bandwidth, especially if you don’t have a 3G or WiFi connection. But media problems aside the UI of the iPhone app is easy to use and clean.
Seagate FreeAgent Dockstar costs $100, which is $29 cheaper than Pogoplug’s current offering. There is also the option to add a FreeAgent Go hard drive, which can provide storage up to 1TB. The ability to add other USB storage devices to the setup certainly add some bang for buck and any of you that struggle with uploading pictures this might be the best resolve. The price of the dock includes 1 year of service, after that you’ll need top drop $30/year to keep on NASing, a price that will certainly dissuade a many a user, especially seeing as that Pogoplug, the maker of the NAS technology offers its service for free. Nonetheless, Seagate FreeAgent Dockstar is super simple to use, setup and should prove useful to even the most tech lame.
You can buy the Seagate FreeAgent Dockstar from Amazon for $79.
- Easy and simple setup
- Works w/ up to 3 USB storage devices
- Small footprint
- Clean iPhone app
- Costs $30/year after 1st year
- Public link not easy to create
- Music/movies can’t be downloaded to iPhone locally