The Seagate Wireless Plus is Seagate?s latest offering in the space of portable hard drives. It continues the product line of wireless hard drives established by the Satellite. This new device came to us around the time of CES and really promised some really impressive features.
Most notably, they touted the ability to pass-on an internet connection from a paid connection to up to 8 different wireless devices. Among the other features for this drive are the abilities to enable Apple AirPlay, dlna and special enhanced features for Samsung Smart TVs. The Samsung feature hasn?t quite been enabled yet, but will likely be done through a firmware update. The Wireless Plus touts a 10 hour battery life, which is an almost 50% improvement over the 7 hours of the Satellite.
The Wireless Plus, like the Satellite also has the ability to swap interfaces on the drive, meaning that it can do USB 3.0, FireWire or Thunderbolt. The standard drive ships with a USB 3.0 connector and cable as well as a compact wall charger and cable to enable for higher current charging rather than just over USB. The drive itself is a 1TB drive, which is really nice to have compared to the 500GB Satellite and it enables virtually any tablet or smartphone to have a virtually unlimited amount of media to follow it around.
The problem with the Wireless Plus is that it feels like a marginal improvement from the Satellite. The Wireless Plus enables you to stream up to three different HD movies to three different devices at the same time. Meanwhile, the Satellite enables you to stream media to up to 8 different devices. The Satellite, like the Wireless Plus can stream three different HD movies at the same time.
So, I decided that I was going to take this Wireless Plus with me on a trip to Chicago. I proceeded to take the drive out of its neat packaging and then connect it via USB 3.0 to my computer and load it up with TV shows and Movies. For some reason, on the flight I could not get my tablet, Chromebook nor HTC One X to connect to the Wireless Plus. I was aware of the rather long start up time of the device, taking about a minute or two to fully initialize. However, the problem was that it was simply not showing up at all. Upon doing a few power cycles, I was able to get the devices to see the drive and attempt to stream the videos I had located on the drive.
The bizarre part was that I could not get the wireless to work at all in the plane. I also could not connect the drive directly to the USB port on the tablet?s dock because of what I believe to be a design flaw. I was able to successfully pull up all of the files on my Chromebook, but not on my Acer tablet. This is because when the drive is connected via USB it requires a certain amount of current to actually power on the drive successfully. With the Acer, the USB cable did not light up nor was most of the drive visible. However, the Chrombook did get the USB cable to light up and the files were visible. Unfortunately for me, though, ChromeOS does not have a VLC application to play my .mkv files. As such, I ended up not being able to play any of my movies for the duration of the 5 hour flight.
Needless to say, I was VERY disappointed with Seagate?s Wireless Plus. However, for the sake of being a thorough review, I tested the drive again at home and was able to get all of my devices to sync with the Wireless Plus and I was able to get the internet sharing feature enabled as well. I was able to download my .mkv files from the drive onto my Acer W510 tablet, wirelessly without incident and I can say that this drive does indeed do what it promises.
The interface for the Wireless Plus? web browser is very minimalist and successfully displays all of the things you might need or want to know about the drive on the main page. The mobile app for the Android and iOS devices is equally as simple, with even fewer options since most of those devices are simply picking up the drive?s stream. I also tested the battery life, and was able to get about 8 ½ hours of movie play time out of the device. Do note that this device is 2.4GHz, which means that it may suffer from interference in densely populated areas. A 5 GHz option would be nice.
While I can?t explain what happened in the plane, I will try to reproduce it again in the coming weeks to see if it was just a fluke or if this drive seriously has issues working in planes. The Wireless Plus is without a doubt a very nice hard drive that has lots of unique functionalities. The incremental improvements from the Satellite are nice, however they don?t really make the Wireless Plus feel like that much of an improvement. Additionally, the buggy first start may be a fluke, but could be off-putting for some consumers that just want things to work from the start.
Based on our experiences with this drive and the retail price of $199 for a 1TB drive, we can?t really say that it?s a huge value. The build quality is certainly there, but it doesn?t really feel any more solid or less solid than a regular external hard drive. Let?s also remember that a portable Seagate 1TB hard drive that is about the size of the Wireless PLus can be had on Newegg for $79. So, you?re looking at a $120 premium over the price of just having the drive in order to gain the wireless streaming and WiFi sharing capabilities. This sounds to me like a fairly niche product, and possibly one that still needs a bit of polishing.
As such, we won?t be giving the Wireless Plus any awards, but we can say that it is currently the best Wireless Hard Drive solution on the market at the current time. We will, however, be reviewing a wireless 128GB SSD from Kingston, which should be interesting.