Streaming with the Seagate Wireless Plus

When it was announced at CES earlier this year, the SeagateWireless Plus seemed like one heck of an idea: a one terabyte hard drive with abuilt-in battery, plus a WiFi hotspot that allowed you to stream media to mobiledevices (including, of course, your Android smartphone or tablet).

So, in theory, if you’re on a roadtrip, you can run theWireless Plus in the car and your two kids can both watch or listen to theirown content on their tablets. Or, you can set it up at a business meeting, andthree different employees in three different nearby rooms can stream apresentation video to a meeting, simultaneously. Or, you can just use it in ahotel room to watch whatever you want without having to make sure it’s pre-loadedonto your phone before heading out the door.

I had the chance to do a hands-on test with the WirelessPlus. The drive is slightly larger than a typical portable hard drive. On oneend is a removable cover that protects the built-in SATA port/power connector.If you attach the included USB3-to-SATA dongle, you can load the drive up withall of your content (including video or other documents, of course). Onceyou’re done transferring files, you can remove the dongle, recap the end andthen recharge the Wireless Plus using the power port on the side the drive.

To use the drive for video streaming in the field, you’llneed to download the free Seagate Media app. Then, you’ll have set your mobiledevice’s WiFi to connect directly to the Wireless Plus. Once you’re connectedyou’ll see all of your video content when you fire up the Seagate Media app,and to play it you just tap on it.

Inside the app you’ll have a pull-down menu that allows youto switch between videos, music, photos, and documents, and you can switchbetween the Seagate Wireless Plus and your device’s internal memory. While it themenu system in the app seems to ignore subfolders – it just listed all of thevideos on the drive in on big chunk – there’s a search icon at the top of theapp, to help you find specific items quickly.

The drive is designed to handle up to three simultaneous HDvideo connections, streaming different content to each. I was easily able tostream to my Nexus 4 smartphone, my Nexus 7 tablet and to an iPadsimultaneously (yes, it’s cross-platform). Once the files are rolling, theygenerally stream well…provided you’re not too far away from the Wireless Plus,of course.

Despite the small form factor, Seagate has rated the batteryinside for up to ten hours, though you’ll almost certainly achieve less thanthat. That’s especially true if it’s running more than one streaming connection,or if you’re playing shorter pieces of content that force the Wireless Plus tospin up the drive more regularly. If you’re in range of an outlet, you can alsojust run it while it’s plugged in.

You can set the Wireless Plus to connect to another WiFihotspot, to allow the mobile devices to share Internet (since by connecting tothe Seagate hotspot you’d otherwise be losing your WiFi connection). It’sprobably a good idea to turn on the Wireless Plus’ password if you’re going todo that, to make sure strangers aren’t jumping onto your network and using upyour bandwidth (or rifling through your documents).

The bottom line for the Seagate Wireless Plus: not only isit a great concept, but it seems to work just as advertised. If you’re afrequent business traveler, it could make a great road companion.

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