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Seagate Central Review – A Media Server That Puts Plex to Shame

NAS drives have been around for years, but there have been few that really appeal to the mainstream home user. That said, we think that the Seagate Central has the potential to change all that. This easy to use drive connects to your home Wi-Fi network and is able to wirelessly back up all of the computers on your network. Plus, it’s also able to stream all of your video, photo and music files to your smartphone, tablet, and even your Smart TV or a game console.

Setting up the Seagate Central is a quick and easy process. We connected it to the Time Capsule on our home network with an ethernet cable, and our Mac recognized the Seagate Central on our network right away. No software is required when setting up the Seagate on a Mac, and the setup is all done using an easy to use web based interface. The Seagate Central’s web interface is also where you’ll create users which get access to the drive and its files.

When it comes to PCs, Seagate provides users with premium backup software. On Mac, you can use the Seagate Central with Time Machine for backups. We had no problem setting up the Seagate Central with Time Machine on our Macs.

Seagate offers their free Seagate Media app for the iPhone / iPod Touch, iPad and Android. The app lets you stream multimedia content to your mobile device. Streaming videos and media to an iPad or iPhone when using Seagate’s media app and connected to your home network is an absolute joy. We actually found the experience to be superior to using the popular Plex media streaming app. We observed videos starting to play faster than on Plex, and they manage to play super smoothly too.

Seagate also offers their Seagate media app for Samsung Smart TV. That means you can stream media directly to your TV, right from the Seagate Central, even if your computer is turned off. And like with the Seagate Media app for iOS, the streaming media experience on your Smart TV is seamless and a total pleasure. We also can’t emphasize how convenient this app is to use if you’re a Samsung Smart TV owner.

The Seagate Media app also has a remote access function for times when you want to access the files on your Seagate Central, but you’re not at home using your home network. Alternatively, you can also access files from access.seagate.com. We were able to access our files remotely and download them directly to our computer, or onto our smartphone with the Seagate App. That said, the app does not support video streaming when you’re off your home network – but you can download the video onto your smartphone or tablet. In addition, the Seagate Media apps for smartphones and tablet also let you upload files directly from your smartphone to the Seagate Central.

Verdict

The Seagate Central lets you easily create a centralized media library, while also providing all the computers on your home network with a complete backup solution. As a matter of fact, this is a NAS that does so many of the things that we wish Apple’s Time Capsule would do, including support for attaching an external USB drive. And when it comes to streaming videos over a home network to your tablet, smartphone and TV, the Seagate Central rocks and makes an excellent Plex alternative. Plus, the Smart TV app is super useful for owners of a Samsung Smart TV. And with a nice minimalist design, the Seagate Central will blend in your entertainment cabinet as well as does on your desk.

That said, we do wish there was a RAID option for the Seagate Central, for extra protection for our backups. Still, we highly recommend the Seagate Central for its ease of use and powerful backup and media streaming features. And for just $159.99 on Amazon for the 2TB model, the Seagate Central is very reasonably priced. Plus it comes with a 2 year warranty. Both a 3TB and 4TB model are also available. And you might want to consider getting the larger capacity models, because before you know it, you’ll be filling it up with backups and lots of media files.

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The Good: Easy setup, easy backups, works as a great alternative to Plex, and Samsung Smart TV app is super convenient. Affordable pricing, lets you archive the photos and videos from your Facebook account, also works with DLNA and as an iTunes server. Lets you connect an external hard drive for additional storage. Remotely access files when you’re not home – even if you’re computer is turned off

The Bad: Would like to see a RAID option for extra protection

Update: Roku is now available as a channel on Seagate Central.

 

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  • A Mislead Reader

    Helena, you have compared two very different products based only in a few characteristics that they share in common. Plex, between other things, takes care of transcoding movies on the fly (if running on a minimum of a x86 machine) and very nicely organizes your media by downloading posters, descriptions and fan art for both movies and music. These are very nice features that the Seagate Central does not have. Transcoding being a feature that it won’t ever have because of hardware limitations and the metadata download being a feature I wish it had but I doubt Seagate will ever implement. Maybe some genius hacker may come up and implement that feature but I am keeping my hopes low. I am actually thinking about returning it as I find that feature a must as it is much easier to identify your movies with the posters.

    Plex is just software, not hardware so it is not intended to have all the NAS functionality that the Seagate Central has. Unfortunately, this article is comparing Apples and Oranges by referring to its fructose levels. 🙂

  • Baffled Plex Poweruser

    You are comparing apples and oranges. An underpowered Nas cannot replace the core functionality (rich media scraping, organizing, transcoding, etc.) that Plex provides. Plex not only allows serving up media within a household, but also sharing of libraries and Zeroconf accessibility from anywhere in the world. This device could compliment Plex as storage, but it would never replace it.

  • tommy thumb

    HA! this is the goofiest headline in the history of bad blog writing. As as someone who owns both, comparing the seagate central as a media server to plex is like comparing a Bugatti to a tractor. The SC is a simple, network attached storage that in the best of times, allows you to back up your computer, including your media. On good days, you can play some of that media directly from the SC app. This hardly qualifies as a media server (and Unfortunately the SC doesn’t do much better for backups either- have you used the iOS app to backup your pics and/or music? it doesn’t run in the background. It’s quite amazing. Meaning you literally have to stare at the app for as long as it takes to backup). What plex does in terms of making your media available to you, through just about any interface possible, but it also transcodes that media for whatever device your using and presents it in the most beautiful and efficient way possible. You might as well title your article “Chrysler puts Apple to shame”.

  • Catam

    How can you connect Plex with seagate central?

  • Craig_Hubley

    I have used both Plex and Seagate Central. Here’s what I think:

    1. Seagate Central has weak CPU and simply cannot move files and stream video at the same time. I found it most useful to put big collections of small files, like photos or music, that otherwise tend to get split up among free space on other drives that end up changing where they are attached between machines on the net.

    2. For photo and music sharing, there probably is nothing better than Seagate Central. Plex was absolutely useless for both, and while Seagate Central + iTunes is not as functional as MediaMonkey, it’s a more standard solution if you have Macs and iPhones around.

    3. Time Machine capability makes the Seagate Central great for Mac users. Especially users of multiple Macs with a desktop that is not always on.

    4. Plex is very bad at identifying and organizing files. Seagate Central is not much better. There is really no substitute for good file naming. MediaMonkey is much more intelligent than either, if your storage is primarily attached to a PC that is on all the time.

    5. Plex downloading posters, descriptions, etc. is great if you allow it. And when it gets the actual file identity right which is rare. Its self-certainty is bothersome. I generally leave it off.

    6. Seagate Central is really not a NAS nor comparable to one. The inability to use RAID or even mirroring between two of them disqualifies it. The weak CPU too. A NAS is typically a $1000 box that can serve up files to many more users than a PC or Mac simultaneously. The Seagate Central can barely serve one.

    7. Seagate Centrals are sometimes available very cheap, like 2TB versions for $65 Canadian. I got two at this price and intend to use them for backups, large collections of small files, and to never have anything on either that I cannot replace from the other one or some other storage. That should deal with the fact that you can’t actually replace the hard drive when it goes.

    8. Eventually these Seagate devices will go into a house with no one who is technically capable, loaded up with media of interest to them, and more or less only be used to serve up a single TV.

    9. Make sure you have a gigabit switch and gigabit router esp if you plan to use wireless. Run Gargoyle/OpenWRT or DD-WRT or Tomato on that router, i.e. don’t buy a router that doesn’t run one of them.

    10. The Seagate Media app and management tools are a sad joke. The player doesn’t do basic things right like find and integrate subtitle files for video – then again a lot of players do that extremely badly.

    Bottom line: Neither Seagate nor Plex are comparable in any way to a real NAS running FreeBSD or OpenNAS and the ZFS file system, which makes your files appear local when properly mounted, and runs them like local files. Professionals would not touch anything else, so they wouldn’t like the Seagate much. Nor would they like Plex much I suspect. Not for pros.

  • Craig_Hubley

    Plex should just see it as another DLNA server.

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