Wireless hard drives: Time to untether your portable storage

28th July 2014
Wireless hard drives: Time to untether your portable storage

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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