External hard drives now come with built-in WiFi networks.
Bangalore, July 28 2014: Tablets, smartphones -- even Netbooks -- have little real estate to spare for large on-board storage -- which is why external storage drives have become an essential accessory to computing today. But let's face it even the sleekest hard drives add a bit of clutter on the desk and if you misplace the special USB connector, you've had it!
Which is why hard Seagate, pioneered wireless drives over a year ago: they launched the world's first terabyte portable storage drive with its own WiFi network and the ability to share content with up to eight hand-held devices like phones and tablets.
Since then other makers have launched wireless drives -- but most of them have used Flash rather than hard disk technology which is generally limits the storage to a few hundred gigabytes. Last week Seagate brought the latest version of its mobile storage device, Seagate Wireless Plus, to India, adding some useful software utilities and integrating it neatly with third party cloud storage services like DropBox and Google Drive.
I tried out the 2 terabyte version ( it is also available with 1 TB) for a few days and it seems to love the people who read those yellow-jacketed "Dummies" guides: everything is quick and simple. The palm -sized drive seems no bigger or heavier ( at 256 gms) than Seagate's portable wired drives of the same capacity -- yet it packs in a wireless router of the 802.11n standard which means it can transfer data at 150 MBPS tops. You can connect the drive old fashioned way -- with the USB 3.0 cable provided -- and this may be faster. But wireless is way more fun!
You switch on the wireless network with a tiny button and you can immediately find the drive as "Seagate Wireless" in any phone or tablet you may be using as long as it runs on Apple's iOS, Android and Windows 8 RT. It also works with the Amazon Kindle Fire e-book reader. Your device browser automatically goes to the Seagate Wireless page and you can find anything you have stored on the hard drive organised in four folders --documents, videos, music and photos. Click on any item in these folders and they run smoothly on your phone or tablet. What makes it so easy is a new Seagate Media App lets you seamlessly access and run any file that you have saved on the drive on multiple devices.
However I did find that the app does not work with older desktop versions of Windows like Win 7 or Vista. However you are OK with Windows 8 PCs.
I'm guessing wireless is the way to go in the future for all portable hard drive makers, though not many have come to India yet. Meanwhile if you want to unshackle your portable library of music and movies from the bondage of USB, the Seagate Wireless Plus let's you do it at an asking price of Rs 18,500 for 2T and Rs 14,500 for 1T versions. You may be able to knock off a couple of thousand rupees by careful online shopping -- but remember to check the specs: only the latest version of Seagate's wireless drive offers the Media App, which for me is the icing on this 2T fruitee cake.
- Anand Parthasarathy
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