Seagate GoFlex Satellite needs to go back to beta (review)

I have an upcoming project where I need to securely stream videos to multiple iOS devices for a training seminar, so I decided to give the Seagate GoFlex Satellite a try yesterday to see if it would do what I needed.

I should have known things were going to go bad just looking at the box.

SeagateGoFlexSatellite1photo
 

Somebody in Seagate’s art department needs to hold an iPad someday. This is ridiculous. A five year old can see this picture is wrong.

 

SeagateGoFlexSatellite2photo
 

I should have known this was going to be the start of something…. terrible. Something that would eat two hours of my day just to get set up and running.

 

SeagateGoFlexSatellite3photo
 

Right up front, I found out this fugness is NOT plug and play. The Seagate GoFlex Satellite is about as friendly as a crackhead rattlesnake on a burning cactus.

Once you take the Seagate GoFlex Satellite out of the box, you’re going to have to do some work before your iPad can see it (let alone use it).

I’ll skip over the 55 minutes of trying to get this thing installed and researching Seagate’s online tech support and just list what I had to do…

  1. Charge the Seagate GoFlex Satellite for 30 minutes into a wall outlet using the plugs they provide.
  2. While it is charging, go to Seagate’s download page and get your sync software for your platform (mac or PC) and install it on your desktop.
  3. On the iPad, while it is connected to a live WiFi network, download GoFlex Media (by seagate) AND 8player Lite in the iOS store. Install both of these apps on the iPad.
  4. After 30 minutes of charging, unplug the usb cable from the back of the Seagate drive
  5. Press the RESET button on the bottom of the device with a tack or pin for 5 seconds to clear out the factory garbage on it
  6. TURN OFF EVERYTHING IN THE AREA THAT AUTOMATICALLY CONNECTS TO WIFI NETWORKS. Not kidding. If anything auto connects to the Seagate during the next steps, the drive’s WiFi will never blink blue and update.
  7. Turn off the WiFi on the iPad (by going to GENERAL and WiFi)
  8. Connect the Seagate GoFlex Satellite drive to a PC – not a mac.
  9. Download the latest firmware update for the Seagate GoFlex Satellite from Seagate’s website
  10. Save the update directly to the root level of the GoFlex drive
  11. Safely eject the drive from the taskbar of your PC. (You can’t just unplug this thing straight. It may lose the update.)
  12. Hold down the power button on the side of the Seagate GoFlex Satellite for 15 seconds to turn it off.
  13. Wait 15 more seconds.
  14. Press the power button to re-boot the drive
  15. The power light on the drive will blink green and then go solid. Then the light under the WiFi will start blinking green… then stay solid green…. then blink again.
  16. After two minutes of this green blinkage, the wifi light will blink blue very briefly. This is where you MUST connect through WiFi on your iPad. (Miss this opportunity at your own risk!)
  17. While the GoFlex is blinking blue, on the iPad, go to GENERAL and WIFI.
  18. Turn the WiFi back on the iPad
  19. Under CHOOSE A NETWORK, pick SEAGATE GO FLEX WIFI
  20. Once the checkmark appears next to the SEAGATE GO FLEX WIFI network and the WiFi icon appears by the iPads’ name on the top menubar, go to the GoFlex Media app on the iPad and launch it.

Nothing to it!!

Once you have cleared the hurdles of connecting this device, these are the screens you will see in the GoFlex Media app on the iPad…

SeagateGoFlexSatellite0178
SeagateGoFlexSatellite0179
SeagateGoFlexSatellite0180
SeagateGoFlexSatellite0181
SeagateGoFlexSatellite0182
SeagateGoFlexSatellite0183
SeagateGoFlexSatellite0183a
SeagateGoFlexSatellite0184
This is what you will have to deal with. It’s not like having a external flash drive or a folder you can just tap-open stuff with. It’s definitely not a Mac-like app. What you see above is what you get.

Once you’re connected to the drive on the iPad, you can change the name of the drive as it shows up in WiFi as well as assign a password. That’s about it, though.

To get files on the drive, you will have to use that sync app that was downloaded to the desktop and connect the Seagate GoFlex Satellite directly to your mac (or PC). When you use the transfer app, whatever files Seagate’s app does not support will not get copied over. If you drag and drop files, the files will copy over, but the Seagate app will not list them in the VIDEO or PHOTO views. Also, if you try and drag-and-drop files directly to the drive, some files may not transfer depending on how your computer is set up for external NTFS disk write access.

You can download files from the GoFlex Satellite drive to the iPad in the app, but you can not send any files from the iPad to the drive. It’s strictly a one way street.

Also, Seagate’s GoFlex app also does not support .flv videos (among a few other formats).

Oh, and the drive is formatted NTFS. If you re-format it into any other type, it won’t work anymore. It’s NTFS or nothing.

Right. So back to the other app that was downloaded to the iPad – 8player Lite.

The reason 8player Lite was downloaded to the iPad is because Seagate’s own technical support staff recommends using this app instead of Seagates’ GoFlex Media app!! Not kidding. The techs’ comments in their own forums and on amazon.com constantly mention this app instead of their own.

It’s pretty obvious why. Launching 8player Lite will get you to a old-style PSP navigation system…

SeagateGoFlexSatellite0185
SeagateGoFlexSatellite0186

Click what you want and the icons appear under to list content, or to the right for hierarchy. To back up a level, just click to the left.

It’s exactly as I remember my PSP system’s navigation.

SeagateGoFlexSatellite0187
 

SeagateGoFlexSatellite0188

The best part is that this app will list everything you dragged and dropped. Everything.

This is really handy to see what you really have on the drive in a category pane, and I believe it’s how a file-management app should behave.

But what really sold me on the 8player Lite app was this…

SeagateGoFlexSatellite0189
SeagateGoFlexSatellite0190
 

It played .flv’s. This little app actually played everything I had… every format, every size, every medium.

That’s a pretty sad state of design when I would rather have an old PSP interface than the one Seagate designed in 2011 for an iPad.

OK, now for the bad part… you can’t get online while you’re using this thing. The ipad is only connected to the Seagate GoFlex Satellite through WiFi, and if you try to get anywhere in Safari, you will just wind up at a web-interface of the files you have on the GoFlex Satellite drive. To get back online, you have to break the WiFi connection and switch back to your original network in the iPad’s GENERAL and NETWORK settings.

(You can also just switch off the Seagate GoFlex Satellite drive with the power button on the side, but your iPad may or may not reconnect to the previous wireless network as quickly as you could do so manually.)

Let me tell you, no internet access gets old real fast.

So to sum up my complaints…

  1. This monstrosity is NOT plug and play out of the box! Connecting a WiFi drive should require no more than 5 minutes.
  2. NTFS only is a poor decision considering most iPad users are also mac users as well.
  3. There has got to be a way to surf the internet while the drive is connected. Maybe make this drive an FTP server that can get a DHCP address from a wireless network and let the iPad app act as a GUI FTP login? Or let the drive login to the network as a alternate configuration. (EX: if network named “X” is detected, then set IP address to “Y” and login with “Z” credentials.)
  4. A Mac-like GUI. Something for the iPad shouldn’t look like something from the Napster-lovin’-90s.
  5. There is no SEND TO DEVICE option. A storage drive that you must to connect to a desktop or laptop to load files to it is just ridiculous.
  6. There is no on the fly converting. Seagate needs to take a look at AirVideoFree on the app store to get an idea on how it’s supposed to be done.
  7. There are two green lights on this thing. The problem is one of these lights only turns blue and flickers when data is streaming or you have a window of opportunity to connect to the drive. IMO, this light should REMAIN SOLID BLUE when ANY device is connected and revert to green when NO ONE is connected. Ideally, it should also blink blue for every number of users connected and flicker blue when data is being transferred.
  8. User/password combos would be great.
  9. The getting started video is on the drive, and you can only see it after you have connected! This video needs to be put on the root level of the drive (or in a big TRAINING folder) so people can view it when they need it!
  10. No love for .FLV.

Right now, bottom line, the Seagate GoFlex Satellite stinks on ice. But the potential for this drive is enormous.

I think of this drive like one of those fantastic big-budget sounding movies, with characters you’ve always wanted to see on the big screen. But what got made was something with C and D-list actors and director who doesn’t know anything about the project or material they are working on. Just bad all around.

Once the damn thing is connected to the iPad the first time, it behaves. Somewhat. But would I recommend a Seagate GoFlex satellite right now? No. Absolutely not. It’s actually easier to “cloud” data than use this device as it is now.

It needs work to be iPad friendly, and it needs a complete overhaul to be actually useful.

If the software updates make major improvements, I’ll re-review the drive.

UPDATE : If anybody from Seagate reads this post, let me strongly suggest you call Verizon and Sprint. Team up with them to make a 4G WiFi server. Their WiFi hotspot devices (like the Verizon 4G LTE MiFi) and your drive tech. Think mobile 4g hotspot, storage, streaming and internet access. All on one local device, no cloud needed. You will not be able to make these things fast enough at the factory.

5 thoughts on “Seagate GoFlex Satellite needs to go back to beta (review)

  1. Awesome blog related to new technology! Thanks for sharing this very usefull information about technology & the picture quality is awesome. I will visit your blog again into a couple off days to check if you have some new articles.
    Thanks!!!!!!!!

  2. Next time read the manual, i did this in about two minutes. Sepose you are technichan?? Hope there is a real it proffessional in your team!! Its a Linux device, you can easely use the SMB function to store to the device (see http://www.seagate.com)
    Apple is not the only computer maker in this world! So a bit dumb story you are telling. Sorry!

  3. …..and oh god, i did it all on my MacBook Pro 13″!!! Also the firmware update! And realy isn’t it a but dumb a Mac can not read NTFS as in a windows pc can read MacFS? An iPad can not read both of the file systems! But who cares as the data comes via wifi?

    Sorry, but i actualy love my seagate drive witch i use with my Mac’s and iPads etc.
    If it has wifi it can readvthe drive……..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *