Last year, Seagate debuted the first portable wireless hard drive, which let you stream content to your iPad, iPhone or Android device. The second version, the Seagate Wireless Plus, does all that, plus addresses all of the issues we had with last year's model. Even better, the company has doubled the amount of storage -- now 1TB -- and kept the price at $199.
Click to EnlargeUnlike the original Seagate GoFlex Satellite, which had a glossy black cover, the top of the Seagate Wireless Plus has a gray brushed-metal look, although it's made out of plastic. The sides and the bottom, also plastic, have a matte black soft-touch finish that makes the drive pleasant to hold.
A plastic cover on back end of the drive pops off to reveal a SATA connection, which can be used with Seagate's GoFlex adaptors. The drive ships with a USB 3.0 connector.
Like the original GoFlex Satellite, buttons and lights are kept to a minimum. On the top are two small LEDs, one that shows the drive is on, and the other showing that it's broadcasting a Wi-Fi signal. On one side is a button to turn the drive on and off, and the other has a small DC-in jack. We wish the Seagate drive had a better battery life indicator. The Patriot Gauntlet 320 drive has four LEDs that indicate battery life; by contrast, Seagate's drive has only one LED that turns to red from green when it's almost out of power.
Slightly larger than a traditional portable hard drive, the Seagate Wireless Plus measures 5 x 3.5 x 0.78 inches and weighs 9 ounces. By comparison, the Patriot Gauntlet 320 measures 5.5 x 3.4 x 1 inches, and weighs 10 ounces.
Copying files to the Wireless Plus is as easy as plugging it into your notebook and dragging files over. You can also transfer them wirelessly, but that will take much longer.
After, we turned on the drive, then went into the Wi-Fi settings on our iPad to connect to the Wireless Plus. Unlike the original drive, the Wireless Plus has a pass-through connection. That is, you can now still use the Internet while connected to the Drive.
While we used an iPad for our tests, the Wireless Plus is also compatible with Android 2.3 or higher, and the Kindle Fire.
Click to EnlargeFor the Wireless Plus, Seagate refreshed its iOS app (owners of the GoFlex Satellite will also get this new app). By default, the app presents your media in the form of thumbnails (you can also choose a list view). It sorts files by type (video, photos, music, documents and recent) and lets you search by name. Within the Music category, you can also sort tunes by album, song, artist, playlist and genre. The app also lets you view content stored on the iPad itself.
Overall, we prefer the layout of Seagate's app to that of the Gauntlet 320, which simply presents everything in a list view along the left side of the screen.
In addition to simply viewing content stored on the Wireless Plus, you can also download and upload files to and from the drive.
The Seagate Wireless Plus will also be able to stream directly to Samsung Smart TVs, but the app enabling this feature won't be released until February. However, the Wireless Plus does work with Apple Airplay.
Click to EnlargeThe Wireless Plus wrote 5GB of multimedia files in 2 minutes and 35 seconds, a rate of 32.8 MBps. By comparison, the Gauntlet 320 took 1 minute and 38 seconds, a rate of 51.9 Mbps. The average for USB 3.0 external drives is 45.6 MBps.
Similarly, when copying those files from the notebook back to the Wireless Plus, it took 2:20, a rate of 36.4 MBps. The Gauntlet 320 took just 1 minute and 26 seconds, a rate of 59.2 MBps. The average is 54.5 MBps.
For the most part, we were able to stream 1080p movies smoothly from the Wireless Plus to our iPad. One particular file, a 1080p video of the movie "Decay," stuttered often, but the same file gave us trouble on the Patriot Gauntlet 320, too.
When streaming a 1080p video from the Wireless Plus to an iPad, the drive lasted 3 hours and 50 minutes. While that's far below Seagate's claim of 10 hours of continuous streaming, it bested the Gauntlet 320 by about 1 hour.
Click to EnlargeWith the Wireless Plus, Seagate has resolved every issue we had with its original wireless hard drive. Best of all, it doubled the storage, while keeping the price at $199. While the Patriot Gauntlet 320 is certainly capable, Seagate's Wireless Plus lasts longer on a charge, offers more than twice the storage for just $40 more, and has a more intuitive and robust app. If you're looking to take all of your content with you, the Wireless Plus is the way to go.