FreeAgent GoFlex – The World’s Most Upgradable Portable Hard drive
Seagate’s FreeAgent line has just released a unique new ultra-portable hard drive; it’s upgradable. Out of the box, GoFlex is a USB 2.0 hard drive, but pop off the detachable USB interface and snap on a different interface and you can turn it into a USB 3.0, FireWire 800, or eSATA drive. Upgrade cables are sold separately; a strategy that keeps the price of the GoFlex ultra-portable hard drive low. Soon USB 3.0 will soon become the new standard. Also, the savvier computer users know that FireWire 800 and eSATA are faster alternatives to USB 2.0. So if your computer supports it, you can purchase the specific upgrade cable. This ensures that GoFlex, unlike every other USB 2.0 portable hard drive, will not be soon outdated. We got the opportunity to review the 500gb GoFlex Ultra-Portable Drive, the FireWire upgrade cable, and a very cool product called the GoFlex Net Media Sharing Device. The GoFlex Net easily integrates your GoFlex drive with your home network for easy access to your stuff from anywhere around the world, inside and outside of your network. Dive in to see what we thought.
FreeAgent GoFlex Installation
It’s great to have a drive that truly works on both Mac and Windows. All software is preloaded on the GoFlex. Windows users can simply click setup.exe to install the Seagate Dashboard by Memeo. The software provides diagnostic and backup tools. Mac users will go through a similar installation. The software can install a driver to enable the use of NTFS formatted hard drives. You will not, however, be able to use any of the backup features when the drive is formatted for Mac and Windows. The installation process and features work regardless of the interface attachment connected to your drive. The interface connector can be detached by just pulling it off of the drive, but it takes a bit of force. The FireWire and USB 3.0 interface attachments are slightly longer than the USB 2.0 attachment.
GoFlex Net Media Sharing Device
The GoFlex Net Media Sharing Device mounts up to two GoFlex drives and allows you to access your media from anywhere you want, inside and outside of your network. You can access your media from a Mac, PC, iPhone, iPod, iPad, Android, Blackberry, or Xbox 360. The GoFlex Net needs AC power and plugs into your router with a network cable. Two GoFlex drives can pop into the slots in GoFlex Net. Once the online PogoPlug configuration is set up, you’re ready to start accessing and sharing media from anywhere. The service is very similar to how Dropbox works, except you have access to as much media as there is on your drives, and there is no monthly service charge. It works like this: you can access all the information on your drives from any web browser. You can also mount the drives on your Mac or PC so it appears as if it was actually plugged into the computer. Then you can share folders, files, or entire drives, with other users and can appropriately adjust reading and writing permissions. The drive will be synced in real time on all computers using it. The PogoPlug software gives you a lot of power with your media. You can even share files, folders, or the whole drive publicly, giving access to anybody with the hyperlink. There is also social network integration to easily share your media with friends on networks like Facebook and Twitter. From your mobile phone you can down the PogoPlug app to listen to your music, watch your vides, and check out your pictures and documents (videos must be converted as H.264 to watch on your phone). And it even works over 3G! It’s a very cool and very useful service. Once again, it has all the same features of Dropbox, but instead of having your data stored on their servers it’s stored on your hard drive, which can be removed and taken on the go.
GoFlex Hard Drive Performance
Freeagent GoFlex, using the standard USB 2.0, had read times that were on par with our other portable hard drives, clocking in at 27MB/s (sequential). The sequential read time was 25MB/s which was much better than the 17MB/s we clocked for the WD Passport. Swapping FireWire for the USB 2.0 was a huge improvement. GoFlex almost doubled read and write times benchmarking 50MB/s and 42MB/s respectively. USB 3.0 and eSATA would both be even faster than FireWire. USB 3.0 delivers transfer speeds up to 10x faster than 2.0. Seagate allows us to really make the most of GoFlex with these interchangeable plugs. You can switch between Mac and Windows using USB, FireWire, or eSata with no problems, allowing you to use the fastest connection type available. This makes GoFlex a very efficient method of transferring files from one computer to another.
It’s refreshing that Seagate is willing to offer us consumers such flexibility with their portable hard drive line. Manufacturers thrive on new standards just to encourage people to repurchase products they already have. FreeAgent GoFlex gives us the expandability we need to ensure it won’t be soon outdated. GoFlex Ultra-Portable Hard Drive is available in 320GB, 500GB, 750GB, and 1TB capacities. They cost $99.99, $129.99, $169.99′ and $199.99 respectively and all include the USB 2.0 interface. The drives are very fairly priced for a quality ultra-portable drive, but with more than one upgrade cable it can get pricey. USB 3.0 upgrade cable costs $29.99, FireWire 800 upgrade cable is $39.99, and eSATA is $19.99. The GoFlex drive is available in black and white for all models, and the 500GB is also available in red and blue. The FreeAgent GoFlex hard drives are also designed to work with the Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex TV that we recently reviewed.
The GoFlex Net Media sharing device really lets you get great usage out of the GoFlex drives. The Dropbox-like service, PogoPlug gives you the power to access your hard drive data, and save new data, from anywhere in the world. The service is extremely useful and even kind of game changing. Plus it’s so easy to set up! GoFlex Net costs just $99.99 and includes the PogoPlug software and web interface free of charge.
Overall, GoFlex’s new product line is very promising. Check out the website, there’s other GoFlex products like Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex TV, or their desktop external hard drives. We love how well the product line integrates with itself and we’re excited to see what else Seagate has planned for GoFlex in the future.
Good: Flexibility, up to 1TB capacity, Transfer between PC and Mac, Access media from anywhere with GoFlex Net
Bad: Cost with more than one upgrade cable makes it a pretty pricey portable drive