When someone mentions hard drives I usually start to nod off. But surprise, surprise, Seagate’s latest batch of hard drives are a cool and noteworthy product that shouldn’t be over looked by anyone in search of a storage solution that will scale for the years to come.
Unlike most hard drives, which feature a fixed interface, Seagate GoFlex line can be upgraded in to insure future compatibility. The idea is so simple it’s one of those “why didn’t I think of it” moments. Each hard drive is pretty much your standard storage array, except the interface, where the USB plug inserts, it can be removed and replaced with a new one.
An example you ask? You bought your computer 3 years ago, well before USB 3.0 emerged on the scene. During that time you purchased an external hard drive, which in all likelihood sported a USB 2.0 connection. A year later you destroy your computer and decided to upgrade to a new machine, which has the latest in connectivity. All of sudden you’re hard drive, though still compatible, isn’t taking advantage of your new computer’s hardware. So what’s your resolve? Purchase a new hard drive. But if you had a Seagate GoFlex hard drive you could simply buy a new interface, save some money and not go through the hassle of copying your contents from drive to drive.
In terms of usage it’s pretty cut and dry. Read and write times are right on par with any other set of hard drives and although we didn’t test the heat output with either drive we had no problem holding them in our hand while in use after or during an extended period of time.
Changing the hard drive’s interface is as simple as using a universal charger; just pop off the old adapter and plug in the new one (eSATA, Firewiree 800 or USB 3.0).
GoFlex doesn’t mean you can just change the interface on the hard drive. Once the adapter is removed the hard drive (portable version only) has a unique and proprietary interface that works specifically with Seagate’s FreeAgent TV HD media player and Net Media Sharing Dock. That means you can copy your movies and music to the drive and pop it in the compatible media player and never again worry about the hassle of lost USB cords.
It’s also compatible with Seagate’s Net Media Sharing dock, a dual docking device (there is also a USB port for adding other storage devices) that connects any attached hard drive to your home’s network, enabling you to access your drive’s contents from any where you’ve got an Internet connection. Seagate has tapped Poguplug for this tech, so checkout our review on that for more info regarding UI and ease of use.
To setup the Net Media Dock, all you need to do is plug the power in and connect it to your home’s router using the included Ethernet cord. Assuming you’ve docked a compatible FreeAgent Portable hard drive, and the light has turned a steady green, you just head to Seagate’s website (www.seagate.com/ activatemygoflexnet) to setup and access the drive’s content. Yes, the URL is god awful, but once registration is complete, which they do in a simple step-by-step process, the worst is over. After that you can access the drive’s contents by heading to http://goflexnet.pogoplug.com/view.html. For those on your phone you can just download one of their mobile apps. On another positive note, Pogoplug is now free for the lifetime of the product, which wasn’t the case when we reviewed their previous Pogoplug compatible device, the Free Agent Go Dock.
So what’s the catch? If anything the price. Some of the upgrade interface cables cost as much as $40, while the Net Media Sharing Dock is $99.99. A 320GB FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-portable drive starts at $89.99 and a 1TB GoFlex Desk External Drive is $129.99 (they come packed with USB 2.o cords, you’ll have to spend more for the USB 3.0). Of note, Seagate just added a new capacity of 1.5TB to their portable GoFlex drives.
Seagate’s GoFlex Hard Drives are nothing short of excellent. The removable and replaceable interfaces make them a fantastic solution for anyone debating a computer upgrade, but don’t know what external hard drive to get with in the meantime. USB 3.0 is backwards compatible with USB 2.0, but don’t forget that the interfaces can be swapped out for Firewire 800 or eSATA, great if you change hard ware or work with someone with more advanced hardware.
Amazon sells the GoFlex line of products.
- Modular interface means future compatibility
- Portable drives have a pocket friendly form factor
- PogoPlug is now a free service
- Slightly expensive
- New interfaces aren’t cheap
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