Seagate has announced a portable Wi-Fi-equipped hard drive, the GoFlex Satellite, which is designed to act as a wireless media hub for storage-limited tablets and smartphones. Officially unveiled today, the GoFlex Satellite won't be available at UK and European retail outlets until mid-August. There's no local price yet, but in the US the RRP is $199.99.
The shiny black device, whose silver trim has a distinct iPhone 4 look about it, weighs 267g and contains a 500GB shock-protected 2.5in. hard drive, a (non-replaceable) lithium-polymer battery and an 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi module. The battery is rated to deliver 5 hours of HD video streaming to one device (up to three Wi-Fi connections are supported) and last for 25 hours on standby.
As part of the GoFlex range, the Satellite comes with Seagate's removable multi-purpose I/O adapter. It ships with a USB 3.0 unit, but you can substitute that for FireWire 800, eSATA or — by the end of the summer — Thunderbolt. In the box you also get a 10W USB charger and a compact car charger.
The wired connection is for syncing the hard disk with your computer and loading up your media files. You get free Media Sync software, plus a driver that provides Macs with read/write access to the NTFS-formatted drive. In portable mode, the GoFlex Satellite uses its Wi-Fi module to connect to and stream content to a maximum of three devices — anything with a browser and a Wi-Fi connection will work. As far as security is concerned, WPA is supported, but the content on the hard drive is not encrypted in any way. We wouldn't advise loading any sensitive documents on the GoFlex Satellite.
Specific GoFlex Media apps will add extra media-handling functionality over a basic browser-based interface, including keyword search, folder and thumbnail views, and the ability to download hard-disk-based content to the local device — useful if you're on a flight where Wi-Fi is banned, for example. An iOS app for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch is available now, with an Android version due in a couple of months' time.
If you're a mobile professional who's frustrated by not having access to an extensive media library when travelling, Seagate's GoFlex Satellite looks like a tempting solution. It's another device to keep charged and worry about losing, but the benefits could well outweigh the drawbacks. Look out for a full review when we get our hands on one.