on 4 January 2014
This review is based on around 9 months of use.
I bought the Seagate Wireless Plus mainly for when we're travelling. The family all have smart devices of some description (ipads, iphones, android tablets etc) and they can't store all the films we may want to watch while we're away. I also wanted a way to back up my camera over and above loading everything to Flickr.
1) Streams without an issue to a number of devices
2) Stores your files as any other USB drive does
1) The security is woeful - make sure you change the security settings before you do anything else
2) The battery is a bit rubbish - it can just about make it through an HD film. If you have a long journey ahead and don't have a power socket or USB port spare then don't expect too much entertainment.
3) The wifi doesn't work if it is plugged into your laptop which means other devices can't access it for streaming
4) It needs gentle treatment of file changes - I bricked mine by trying to transfer 30 HD films in one go from my mac to it. Nothing I did could sort it out and it resulted in me having to send it back to Seagate (who provided a refurbished replacement)
5) Can't be used for Time Machine backups if you want to use it normally (TM reformats the disk)
6) You have to log on to its own wifi network (you then use the device to login to the main wifi network)
As with all external hard drives (and internal for that matter) make sure you have the content backed up elsewhere.
Overall it is okay and for me it is worthwhile despite its flaws.
Firstly, the Seagate Wireless Plus is not a standard NAS device meant to fit seamlessly into your existing home/office network and it's not a standard external hard-drive either - it's really both of those in one with a 1TB hard-drive, wi-fi router and a rechargeable power supply all squished into something you can drop into your pocket before walking out the door. When you switch it on it creates its own dedicated wi-fi network that up to 8 people can simultaneously log onto to access your files.
So you're a modern wi-fi family on a long journey and each family member has their own smartphone, tablet, handheld game-console or laptop - you start up the Wireless Plus in the car or train and now every family member can connect via wi-fi and independently and simultaneously enjoy their own choice of the movies, TV shows or music you've loaded onto the device. Or maybe you're a tutor or team-leader and you need to share some digital documents with your students or co-workers - you start up the Wireless Plus and each student or co-worker logs in and views or downloads the files they need onto their laptop or smartphone.
Setting the Wireless Plus up with content isn't hard, just use the included USB-3 adaptor to connect to your computer and then fill it like you would any external drive - there's no need to sort files into types, the device will scan and identify each file later. After you fill and disconnect it from your computer you switch it on again and the onboard software scans and catalogues all the content you've just added - note this can take a long time, some hours with a large library of media and you may only have limited access to your files while this process is happening. There's also a free 'Media Sync' application available from the Seagate website (for both Mac and Windows) which simplifies the process. Note that it's not really practical to use the Wireless Plus as a general backup device as it will scan and then share every file it finds onboard and there's no easy way to exclude files from sharing.
To play or download the onboard media you must first connect to the Wireless Plus' own wi-fi network - this doesn't make much sense if you're at home and already using your existing wi-fi network, but that's not really the point of the Wireless Plus - it's about creating an instant file-sharing network away from home. You access and play content using the free app's available for iOS and Android or just use a standard web-browser. The app's also let you change the settings on your Wireless Plus, for example to toggle or change the wi-fi password. You can only control access to the Wireless Plus by using the wi-fi password as there's no inbuilt option to hide or lock specific folders or filetypes. Also every file is (potentially) downloadable by the users as you can't lock files to a stream-only option. The Wireless Plus also runs its own DLNA server to share content with compatible devices, like a smart TV or app, but again you have no specific control over what is shared and what isn't. Although you have to be logged onto the WP's own wi-fi network there is a passthrough option that lets your phone or laptop continue to access the internet (probably at reduced speed) while you're connected to the Wireless Plus' network, but you can't simply add the Wireless Plus into your existing home network and share content that way.
A few slightly geeky tips: The Wireless Plus arrives NTFS-formatted ready for use with Windows which means Mac users have to install the bundled NTFS driver (a Seagate-device-locked version of Paragon NTFS) to be able to write to the drive, otherwise OSX can only mount it as read-only. There are a couple of alternatives for Mac users - you can use a commercial NTFS driver, like Tuxera NTFS, which works perfectly with the Wireless Plus. Or you can avoid installing extra drivers altogether and reformat the drive to HFS+ for native Mac use - but be very careful how you do this! I caused myself endless problems with disappearing content by not reformatting the drive correctly - you must use the 'Master Boot Record' option and create a new single partition for the reformat to be successful. I'd been holding off reviewing the Wireless Plus because of these problems, but it turned out to be my fault and not the device's.
Admittedly it's not for everyone, most people might be looking for a more conventional NAS unit or external hard-drive, but if you have a use for it the Wireless Plus is an amazing little gizmo. My only disappointment is the battery life, which is only a couple of hours while in use, and although it's possible to charge the device via USB this seemed very slow to me, virtually negligible while the device is actually in use. There are a few other kludgey features, mostly concerned with the way the onboard server app deals with content, and you certainly wouldn't want to use it to store sensitive private data as the security options are almost negligible - but once it's all up and running it's a fantastic way to carry and share digital media. I have a big iTunes media library gathered over many years and it's now synced to the Wireless Plus so I can take almost everything almost everywhere and play it back on almost every device. Admit it, that's pretty cool...
I'll do this review in two parts; basic observations first, then a more technical appraisal.
As a small, neat 1TB external HDD which can also be accessed via wifi, it does its job nicely. I was able to access and stream media on it using my Android phone and tablet and other DNLA streaming devices (such as a PS3). I was able to connect it to my laptop via USB, and use it as a 1TB USB hard drive, as you'd expect. (When connected via USB, the wifi facility is automatically disabled, so it acts as a "dumb drive").
The device showed good battery life, and can be charged via USB or the supplied charger (which is just a 2A USB charger, anyway, so can also be used for any other device that can be powered by USB).
When used with wifi, it creates its own wifi network, to which clients can connect. (Beware - the network starts out with no encryption or authentication, meaning any nearby users can also access your files - you'll want to enable WPA (set a password) immediately!)
I initially had trouble getting it to connect to my existing wifi network; this was with my old Linksys WRT54G router. However, I tried again with the new TP-Link access point I just installed, and was able to get the Seagate drive to connect to my network, automatically obtaining an IP via DHCP. However, it did not remember this between reboots; when I next booted it, I had to connect to its wifi and give it the details again, which is annoying if you want to have it permanently connected to your wifi network as a NAS (network attached storage) device, but it's evident that the device is mostly targetted towards people using mobile devices when out and about. Even when connected to an existing network, it continues to provide its own network, and will allow clients connected to it to route traffic through it. There appears to be no way to stop it providing its own wifi network if you want to use it only as a NAS on an existing network.
Now, for the more technical parts. When you connect to the wifi network provided by the device, it was on 172.25.0.1 for me, and it gave my client 172.25.0.175.
Security-wise, be careful: the default network it offers you carries no authentication, therefore anyone could access it. More worryingly, it offers telnet (a way to access the underlying system on the device and execute commands) with a default username and password of "root" and "goflex" (the latter reflecting that this product is effectively a new version of
Seagate's previous GoFlex range with a different name).
Once you have access to the device, you can set a password (which is setting up WPA-PSK), providing a password (be careful, the device doesn't ask you to repeat the password, so if you typo it, you might lock yourself out, which would be irritating). However, setting that password has no effect on the ability to telnet to the device with the previously-mentioned credentials. You can, however, change the root password using the standard "passwd" Linux command - but typical users, at whom this product appears to be aimed, should not be expected to know how to do this; they obviously won't, thereby leaving them with a device which is horrendously insecure if connected to any other wifi network.
As telnetting in is accessing the Linux-based system which powers the device as root, you have the ability to do whatever you like to the underlying system. The root filesystem is a 100MB jffs2 filesystem (with ~47MB free) mounted read-write, and a file I created on it as a test remained after a reboot of the device. This leads me to believe it would be rather trivial to make the device non-functional. It would also likely be easy to extend the device to do new things it doesn't currently do, though, so it may be of interest to those wanting to play with it.
It's important to understand that anyone who can connect to the device (either via the (default-unprotected) wifi network it presents, or via a wifi network you connect it to) has essentially unlimited access to your files on the device, and ability to stop the device working, unless you've changed the password using a method that average users will not use. This would lead me to make a goatse-based analogy of the device's security, if such a thing wouldn't be frowned upon in a civilised review.
The underlying hardware is an ARMv7 Processor at 298.32 BogoMIPS, with a total of 255488 kB RAM - whilst mine is operating, it showed 138980 kB as free.
on 3 August 2014
I have a 2TB Seagate Wireless Plus, and 1500+ music Albums, exclusively in Lossless WMA and FLAC.
I want to back up these files, and use them in my car by accessing them via my iPhone (patched into the line-in). The Seagate hardware is perfectly fine, and all files were copied successfully using Beyond Compare (not supplied). The Lithium Ion Battery is not all that good, and all I'm doing is streaming music.
The Seagate Media app shows all my files, but does not support either Lossless WMA or FLAC format - making the software useless for my specific needs.
The software also has a very poor User Interface for navigation of such a large music collection.
As a backup, the Seagate hardware runs a DLNA server (Open-Source MiniDLNA_1.0.25) - which "could" be brilliant, but isn't.
The DLNA software appears to be extremely poorly written, and only indexes 384 of my 1500+ albums. I confirmed this by using two completely different DLNA clients on an iPhone that show identical results - therefore it must be the DLNA servers problem.
MiniDLNA has moved on several versions, and the current version is MiniDLNA-1.1.3, so maybe they should have included the later version, or perhaps partnered with Plex, and offered to run a Plex media server instead (whose DLNA Server runs perfectly well).
I think it's extremely bad P.R. to release such an amateur piece of software (said as a software developer with 20+ years' experience). The DLNA clients that I used to test the service were MediaConnect and Infuse 2. Note: I run a Plex server on my Windows 8 Media Centre PC, and both of these applications can retrieve full indexing from the Plex DLNA server which has an identical copy of my media files... so the problem is ALL Seagate's (and now mine).
Update 2014/08/06: It took 9 hours (using dbPowerAmp Reference - not supplied) to transcode my WMA and FLAC files into variable bit-rate MP3 (as a separate MP3 stand-alone folder structure), mirroring my existing WMA and FLAC library. Some of the content is now playable by the Seagate Media application, however, it refuses to index all my albums, accounting for maybe only 300 of the 1500+ albums...
The lithium ion battery is pretty unreliable, Seagate claim 10 hours (but that is maybe only standby time). As an example, the battery showed 91% charge at 08:30, and I streamed mp3 music until 12:00 when the battery ran completely flat.
Update 2014/08/13: Seagate have just updated the iPhone app to version 184.108.40.206, and this now intermittently refuses to play even the MP3's that were transcoded, suggesting that they are in an unsupported format.
One major issue with the software is that you can't choose which directories to index for music. This means that the entire drive is searched, and if you have a directory of FLAC backups, these will be listed alongside your MP3's. The software also chooses to index every single contributing artist, as opposed to just the album artist, which means (for very large music collections) with albums containing "Various Artitsts" it is almost impossible to use the software to navigate to a specific main artist and view their albums.
Another big issue is that each time you switch the device on, the software re-scans and indexes the disk automatically (which will drain the battery unnecessarily). If no files have been copied to the device since you used it last, then this becomes annoying.
I suspect the software has an issue with long file names, which may be the cause of the failure to index the files correctly, but have yet to prove it conclusively.
Minor issues are, once you manage to get an album playing, the MP3 playback stops intermittantly, sometimes in the middle of the song, sometimes at the end. The resolution is to go back to the iPhone app and press the pause button, which instead of pausing, actually resumes playback. Also, the playback can skip.
I have been a long-term fan of Seagate hard drives (both internal and external use). The disk reliability is good and the build quality of their external-based products is excellent. When I've had issues (primarily only when a second-hand device I've purchased off eBay has failed) then I've found their customer service to be excellent.
This wireless device is no exception to that general rule. The build quality of the chassis is excellent and I have no problems at all with this little brushed-chrome number sitting on my desk and looking pretty.
What I do have a problem with, is the lack of assistance with a product that is essentially very very vulnerable in the hands of the technological novice.
I work in IT for a living, so I have no problems reviewing the vulnerabilities of a product and sorting them out. The wifi network this little device provides is unsecured - the root username and password to amend the device itself is incredibly weak (and you can find it out from google). Changing this password does not change the fact that you can *still* use these base details to access the product via telnet - a massive oversight and a horrendous weakness in a product that is going to essentially be used to carry around a *lot* of personal files.
Anyone buying this needs to carefully assess the files they will put on it and needs to make sure they configure the security restrictions properly.
As a portable device it remains excellent. As a device to use on the same WLAN at home all the time it's pretty weak - it appears to lose its connection each time the device is rebooted.
Still, as a concept having a completely portable and self-powered hard drive is great, and having the wireless capability is a leap forward for me (having so many different devices in various physical locations) - *so long as you secure it properly*
I carefully followed the instructions, ran the iPhone app and full of anticipation copied my movie and music folders from my Mac. No problem connecting my iPad Air to the device but for about half an hour it would not show any of the files. When it did show the files I was impressed. The movies looked great on my iPad and the few Kindle books I put on it automatically transferred to the iPad in a few seconds and opened the Kindle app.
Then it went downhill. Took it to work the next day to impress my colleagues and it decided to go through a database updating exercise (although nothing had changed) for about an hour. Played a music track and then it went back to updating database - for about four hours.
At home that night it would not show any files on my iPad at all, just continually showing a pop up asking me to wait a "moment". Left it for a couple of hours and no change so connected it to my iMac and it would not initialise.
Followed all the suggestions on the Seagate Support site but no change. Eventually gave up and decided to send it back to Amazon but now found it would not turn off. The button did nothing so packed it while running so I guess by the time it got back to Amazon it had a flat battery as well.
The only plus point was having deposited it in the evening at one of Amazon's local pick up points I had an email within two hours confirming my credit car was being credited.
I have since ordered a similar item from Corsair (via Amazon) hoping that will be more reliable.
on 7 August 2014
Do not, under any circumstances, buy this product, no matter how much you want it; mine is awful in a way I cannot describe. The app that goes with it is, marginally, better but only in the way being punched in the face is marginally better than being kicked in the head. If you have a delicate constitution the frustration of putting up with the hard drive, the app and the constant suggestions to re-install Firmware and updates will probably hospitalize you.
Whilst i'm no Tech genius i'm not inept either. My complaints are nothing to do with high end specs about WIFI versions, codex's or any of that nonsense; i'm just an average guy who has bought a product which is not what is advertised.
The Hard drive:
Battery life about 3-5 hour max not 10.
That doesn't really matter as the Hard drive itself freezes every 20 mins or so.
In 99% of cases It won't connect to the internet.
Everytime you turn it on it will spend an interminable about of time 'Building a media library' meaning most of your content is not accessible.
It won't play most of your films. (probably some licensing nonsense)
Virtually every time you turn it on it will go through some sort of 'System Test' meaning that it won't work for 10 - 20 min. This is probably as a result of the force shut down you were forced to do as it froze after 20 mins use. Oh and yes you guessed it, frequently by the time the 'System Test' has finished its frozen again.
Its appalling and frustrating.
When you come back after looking in say an album, it will return to the top of the alpha numeric list and not the part of the list you were drilling into.
When listing within say Genre's, it lists by album name not by artist so you need to know all your album names and, you guessed it, when you come back out its straight back to the top of the alpha numeric.
For some reason, it will connect to the hard drive, tell you how much space is used, what firmware version you're using etc but won't let you access the content.
All bands and films with names beginning with The are listed as The..... which isn't frustrating enough, especially as no one else seems to do it that way.
I cannot reiterate enough that buying this will be the worst thing you do this year. Do yourself a favour and buy one of these for your head http://www.amazon.co.uk/RUBBER-MALLET-HAMMER-STEEL-SHAFT/dp/B004C8X3GE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407421908&sr=8-1&keywords=rubber+mallets it will save you money and ultimately be a lot more pleasurable.
on 26 October 2013
I was really excited to get this bit of kit, as I would be travelling. I could load up all the movies, TV series, music and pictures I wanted and then stream them to my, and my girlfriend's, iPad and we could kick back and relax. About a month later the device will no longer allow our iPhones or iPads to connect to the WiFi, and the power refuses to turn off, making this a brick in my backpack. I thought it would be an isolated problem, but just take a look for yourself at the seagate forum; it's packed with people complaining about this hard drive. Save your money and buy something else.
on 10 August 2014
So far I have had a very poor experience with this drive. It seems utterly incapable of handling large collections of media which is a bit odd for a drive of 2TB. It takes an interminable amount of time to scan files and update it's database (it hasn't managed to complete yet without falling over). So far I have managed to play 2 music tracks ... not all the way through, mind, because in both cases the media server part of the drive appeared to crash and needed a restart.
Even just browsing, the media server suddenly goes unreachable every few minutes. Once it does this you have to reconnect and have a 50:50 chance of it timing out (after minutes).
After many years of using technology, I thought I had the hang of power buttons. But clearly not. Sometimes pressing the button doesn't seem to do anything. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it works after waiting a random amount of time. And unfortunately you are going to use that one button a lot in the feeble hope of getting some use out of this drive.
And that's not all to the disappointment due to some poor design in the app. Here's an example: you can browse your music by album (cool) but it shows the tracks within each album alphabetically (very not cool). You can order them by size, by title, by type (why?) but not track number. So basically it you have mix albums or like listening to the tracks in the order the artist intended well bad luck to you.
I would like to give this 0 stars as it is clearly not a product not yet fit to market. However,I suspect if you only have a few files, its probably ok but why would you then want a huge drive?
on 31 August 2014
Really wanted this to work for me and fit into my digital/mobile workaday commute and occasional trip away. I read plenty of reviews and feedback, knew what I was getting and even found a 2TB model on the High Street for £40 less than the online price.
Sadly, I found the whole less than the sum of its parts. Managed to get it to sync with my Mac and transfer over an HD movie file and sure enough, once transferred, was able to watch said movie on my iPhone and Nexus 7. This is what the Wireless Plus unarguably does well.
However, it really does present its own limitations, once you try to expand its alleged capabilities. Trying to stream to Apple TV was a major faff; you have to have a concurrent connection with your home wifi network and the Seagate's proprietary network, before the Apple TV option appears. Once it does begin streaming, the lag was frustrating enough to make you want to scream! It repeatedly dropped too, reverting to the iPhone screen.
Another feature I'd read about was its connectivity to Samsung Smart TVs. Fantastic; just bought one of those! Turns out the app is only available to the US market (at the time of writing).
So ultimately, unless you want to watch/listen/view your files on nothing more than a portable device, stick with a proper DLNA hard drive with decent connectivity (a la WD My Book).