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Go Flex Satellite provides external storage for mobile devices

Derek Schauland reviews a handy device that can free up precious space on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.

There is truly a tablet invasion going on in the workplace, along with other mobile devices, and that has presented new support challenges for many IT pros. Tablet devices and smartphones are getting more storage capacity and more compute power with every release, and at the same time, content used on these devices is becoming more feature rich and consuming more space.

One device I have found to offset some of this growth is the Go Flex Satellite from Seagate. In this post, I am going to check out the features and some use cases for the device from a business perspective. Yes the device is useful beyond keeping the kids entertained on the way to Grandma's house.

Movies, content, and audio

The Satellite is a 500GB portable hard disk with a USB connection. The device connects to PC and Mac with ease and ships with its own content management software. This application will help you search your computer for any content and allow you to transfer it to the Satellite. The Media sync application is shown in Figure A. Once the content is loaded, the fun begins.

Figure A

Seagate Media Sync

When the application launches, if the Satellite is connected, it will be detected and displayed. The application can be configured to watch specific folders on your computer and sync their contents automatically when the Satellite is connected, saving the hassle of searching for content.

Note: If you own more than one Satellite, each will be configured independently.

iOS and Android devices have a free app in their respective stores to manage the content stored on the Satellite and allow playback on these devices.

Accessing content

With your content stored on the Satellite, the tablet devices will connect to the built-in wireless controller via an SSID. The content is then streamed over this connection. I have had this device for a while now and it is very convenient for larger video content. Streaming it over the wi-fi connection allows my device tomaintain a decent level of internal free space.

Figure B

The media management app on iPad
Note: iOS 6 users will need the Satellite's latest firmware update for the device to work due to the changes in Wireless in the new iOS software.

While you are connected to the Satellite, the Wi-Fi radio in your device will not be available for connections to the Internet or other networks. Devices with other radios (3G/4G) should be able to access the Internet and the Satellite.

Cost and specifications

The Go Flex Satellite lists for $299 and is only available in the 500GB size. For transferring content to the drive, it uses a USB 3 connection and is backward compatible to previous USB iterations. The built in battery can hold a charge for about 5 hours of use with one device and takes 1-2 hours to recharge.

The application used to load the drive will allow conversion to a format compatible with many wireless devices. This way, when the drive is loaded, it will work with your device. If the device you have doesn't have its own format, you can use an application that is compatible with the file format and play the content.

For playback, three simultaneous connections are supported, allowing up to three devices to stream content from the Satellite at the same time. The streams can all be different as well, allowing each person to watch different content.

In addition, the PC or Mac can play content when connected via USB or via Wireless.

Transferring content to the drive can be a time consuming process depending on the size of the files. I have found that overnight works as a good time to copy files to the drive; this way the process isn't holding me up.

Use cases

The biggest advertised use case for the drive is movies and music for playback on a portable device, which works extremely well. Aside from that, the biggest use I have found for the Satellite is storing training videos and audio lessons. This way I do not have to copy the contents of the training DVD to my laptop and rely on that to watch or copy it to my iPad and worry about the internal storage getting full. Your mobile users may find this handy too if they regularly need to access video presentations or other media as part of their jobs.

The Satellite has been a great addition to the bag of technology I carry every day.

Other media in this space
  • Kingston Wi-Drive - available in 16, 32, 64 GB capacities
  • LaCie Wireless Space - available in 2TB capacities, not very portable, however
  • Hitachi G-Connect - 500GB capacity
Areas for improvement

I am not sure there are many things I do not like about this device -- maybe the battery life could be better, which, though listed at around five hours, is more like three and a half. Being able to use the device on an airplane would be nice, but that's more an FAA/TSA issue than a problem with the drive. Although, above 10,000 feet, the Internet is available on some flights via Wi-Fi, so maybe this will work too.

Another thing that might be nice is an exportable general configuration, including the folders on a computer and the metadata of the Satellite itself. This way, if I use more than one Satellite drive, the computer could keep track of the content within my library across all the drives I use. When I attempt to add a video or other content that exists somewhere else, the application could alert me that the content exists already and prompt me for action rather than adding it to any drive and knowing nothing of other drives I may be using.

About

Derek Schauland has been tinkering with Windows systems since 1997. He has supported Windows NT 4, worked phone support for an ISP, and is currently the IT Manager for a manufacturing company in Wisconsin.

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