The Seagate Wireless Plus was launched as a solution for wireless streaming with modern devices. With more and more people these days leaving their laptops at home and relying on their mobile devices, the issue of storage has become a legitimate concern. As mobile manufacturers
gouge charge more for increased storage capacity in smartphones and tablets, it makes sense to have an option which gives you access to a larger library of your files, like music, videos and pictures. Fortunately for users with heavy storage requirements, the Seagate Wireless Plus addresses these factors.
Rather than relying on cloud based storage or Internet access, the Seagate Wireless Plus creates its own wireless network, allowing you to connect the drive to your device, enabling access to all your files. With 1TB of storage, there's virtually no limit to what you can put on the drive, from HD videos and full music libraries to photo collections and more. With free apps for both iOS and Android, connectivity is only an app store visit away. Connectivity through a computer's browser allows additional access points and simplifies uploading files to the Wireless Plus.
Unboxing the Wireless Plus
The Seagate Wireless Plus comes in an attractive box, and is supplied with a 1TB Wireless HDD, power cord, SATA-to-USB adapter for transferring files, and a user manual. The power adapter is dual-voltage, so no worries for travellers. The device itself is about the same size as a portable 2.5" hard drive and is reasonably lightweight.
Setup and the Mobile App
Setup was a breeze. Simply depress the power button to turn on the device and wait for it to power up. Then, download and install the Seagate app from your device's app store. Once you launch the app, it will quickly find the device and give you the option to connect. Following the prompts, both the iPhone 4S and Galaxy S3 connected instantly. Once connected, you are presented with Menu & Settings screen.
Both the Android and iOS apps are simple to use. The only downside is you are restricted to using the music and video players within the app itself. Both the music player and video player do not have the same usability as an app like VLC or Apple's iPod, but they are more than adequate for everyday use. The mobile music apps for both Android and iOS are essentially the same, offering shuffle, repeat, and extended repeat. Album art is displayed if it is attached in the metadata.
Audio formats are listed as AAC, MP3, M4a, Audible (formats 2, 3, 4), Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV. Note that is you have Apple DRM protected media, it will not play the songs or videos. For iOS devices, Seagate uses the built-in default player with the Android video player offering similar control. Video formats include H.264 video, MPEG-4, and Motion-JPEG.
Access on a Computer
The Seagate Wireless Plus is also accessible through a computer's web browser, offering similar functionality as the iOS apps but with the ability to upload files to the hard drive. One odd note is the built-in music player for the browser did not allow an extended repeat option for music. As with the mobile apps, music, files and folders are displayable in either list or gallery view, depending on your personal preference.
The Seagate Wireless Plus is supplied with a SATA to USB 3.0 cable, allowing for bulk transfer of files and media. Drag and drop for Windows computers and use the included Seagate Media app for Mac users. Note you must have a USB 3.0 compatible device to take advantage of the USB 3.0; otherwise it simply defaults to USB 2.0.
Wireless Streaming Performance
Once connected, streaming is smooth and even with 3 devices connected, there was no loss of quality when streaming HD video and music simultaneously. There was no appreciable lag when navigating between menus and folder options when connected with quick responsive selections every time. This may vary depending on the strength of your wireless network, building construction and distance from the device. Seagate claims a maximum WiFi range of 45 meters (147 feet) and we found that it worked fine anywhere in the home and out on the back deck but once we stepped beyond that and starting walking around outside, the range quickly dropped and while music streaming was possible, video streaming was difficult.
Seagate claims 25 hours of standby and approx 10 hours of single device streaming. Our tests were in line with their claims, getting just over 24 hours on standby although we did not attempt to run down the battery while streaming from the Wireless Plus. Charging time from empty to a full charge appears to run just shy of two hours.
Internet Connectivity via Pass-Through
The main issue with the Seagate Wireless Plus is that when you're connected to the device, you're not connected to the Internet. Similar to the Kingston Wi-Drive product, Seagate has provided a "Pass Through," allowing you to seamlessly connect to both the Wireless Plus and an outside network simultaneously. The Pass Through works as a portal, offering you continued access to the Wireless Plus in addition to allowing your device's browser to access the Internet. Without this feature, the user would need to continually access the WiFi menu, toggling back and forth between the Seagate Wireless and an external network.
Unfortunately, on both an Android and iOS device, we were unable to get this important feature to work properly. I think for this device to ultimately be successful, this area needs to be addressed with a simple and reliable solution.
Is It the Wireless Storage Solution for You?
This is a great option for those that require more storage on the go or would just like something simple for the home. File transfer from PC to the drive is simple and straightforward, and with 1TB of storage, it has plenty of room. The simplicity of the apps keep it easy for even the most technologically challenged. At $199.99, it's not the cheapest option available, but one needs to remember its 1TB capacity and built-in wireless. Unless you're the type to stream from a built in home server or always carry extra storage, the Seagate Wireless Plus may be the answer.