Last year we reviewed Seagate’s Satellite Wireless Hard Drive and were impressed; this year we’re reviewing Seagate’s Wireless Plus, the 1TB big brother, and we’re blown away. The Wireless Plus gives you an incredible amount of storage in a handheld device that can wirelessly stream and transfer content to your phone, tablet, and other devices. With Wireless Plus you could have access to hundreds of movies and thousands of photos and songs directly from any any smartphone or tablet, even if it’s an iPad with no internet connection and no free storage space.
The Wireless Plus is basically a glorified hard drive. It’s about the size of a regular 2.5″ portable hard drive and it’s USB 3.0 with a speedy wired connection. The USB interface (dubbed USM connecter) can be removed and covered up, down the line it can potentially be swapped out for alternate interfaces like firewire. Much like its predecessor, the Satellite, the Wireless Plus broadcasts its own WiFi network so you can stream and download content from almost any device. There’s a dedicated app for iOS, Android, and Kindle Fire. It’s compatible with computers, game consoles, smart TVs, connected Blu-ray players and other DLNA devices.
At its most basic level, the Wireless Plus is still a regular hard drive that can be used like any other portable drive. The included USB 3.0 cable is backward compatible with any USB port. The drive has a built-in battery for wireless broadcasting, which can last up to 10 hours. It can charge while its plugged into a computer over the USB port, but it’s faster if you use the dedicated wall charger.
Wireless Plus just has one button. Press it and you’ll see by the status lights that its booting up and quickly broadcasting 802.11n WiFi. The drive broadcasts a wireless network which any computer or device can connect to. Once connected, all drive content is accessible from any web browser. There’s an iPhone and Android app for a similar, yet smoother and faster, user interface. Wireless Plus is unencrypted by default, but you can add security in the settings. You can also make the Wireless Plus connect to a different WiFi network and act as a middleman so you don’t lose internet.
The Seagate Media app interface is fantastic; it’s usable, clean, and polished. It’s very intuitive and has a pretty Apple-y feel to it. You’ll have no problem figuring it out. Seagate’s really come a long way with this app and addressed every big issue we had the first time around with the Satellite.
The interface gives you a lot of options for how you want to view your media. The Wireless Plus catalogs all media on the drive and you can easily select between music, videos, photos, or documents. You can also just browse the directory by folders. There’s different sorting options and viewing options (icon or list). There’s even a search option. You can queue up multiple songs, albums, or videos to play back to back. There’s a user adjustable slideshow where you can create photo albums on the fly. Really, as a media center and file manager, this app is top notch. Seagate covered all the bases.
Every file type your device natively supports can be streamed from the drive. If you’re trying to play a video that iOS doesn’t support you can download it and play it from a different iOS app. You can easily download any of your files for offline use. You can also upload files to the drive, but on iOS you’re limited to only uploading images from the camera roll. Adjusting settings on your Wireless Plus is a piece of cake; you can easily set up wireless security, connect to another network, restart the drive, or refresh your content. You can also see the percentage of battery left on the drive and how many users are connected.
There’s a nice collection of sample files included on the drive so you can immediately start playing around and getting a feel for Wireless Plus.
Large hard drives are key these days, so it’s amazing having a 1TB portable hard drive handy that’s durable, fast, and wireless. The Wireless Plus is a bit sleeker than the Satellite, and it feels just about as durable. Using the Plus as a wired drive is an experience no different than any other drive, with USB 3.0 read and write speeds of 110MB it’s going to be faster than your average portable hard drive.
When you turn the drive on for wireless broadcasting it takes about 45-60 seconds to start broadcasting. Depending on the size and quality of a video, it can take 2 to 20 seconds to originally buffer, but then it will play flawlessly. 8 devices can connect simultaneously and 3 users can simultaneously watch HD videos. 10 hours is trickier to get on the battery, but depending on usage you’ll average anywhere between 6 and 10 hours.
It’s such a pleasure to not have to rely on always syncing your smartphone and tablet, especially if you consume a lot of media or are limited on space. It’s great if you and friends or family are going on a long car ride or plane ride and want to be prepared with tons of media to last everyone the whole way.
The app is extremely polished and full of usable features. You can use Wireless Plus while it’s charging, but not while it’s connected to a computer over USB. If you’re tech savvy you can really open up the Wireless Plus’s capabilities using FTP.
The Seagate Wireless Plus 1 TB Hard Drive with Built-In Wi-Fi Streaming is a whole lotta drive with amazing features and a very slick app (and web app). At just $199, it seems like a no brainer. Even as a durable USB 3.0 1 Terabyte portable drive, it seems like a good deal. Seagate is one of the leading brand names in storage, so you can count on reliability. There’s also a 3 year warranty. For me, it takes the headache out of constantly syncing both my iPhone and iPad with the same content when I’m constantly burning through tv episodes on-the-go. It could also be the ultimate family device where you pack movies and TV shows for the kids before a trip. The Seagate Wireless Plus is currently available from Amazon.
The Good: 1TB, Fast, Durable, Nice form factor, Easy to use, Can use while charging, App is polished, Web app, Works with many devices, Multiple users can connect, Good battery meter
The Bad: iPad App is only landscape, You lose 3G/4G/LTE data on connected device so there’s no internet if the Plus can’t connect to a WiFi network, Hard to get full 10 hour battery