Digital Crave

Best road trip gadget? A portable, wireless hard drive

Digital Crave

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External hard drives aren't anything new — they're ideal for storing a large number of computer files, such as photos, videos, music and documents — but the latest from Seagate has a unique trick up its sleeve.

The Seagate GoFlex Satellite ($199.99) is not only portable, meaning it's small and doesn't require AC power to use, but it emits a Wi-Fi signal and can stream content to multiple devices wirelessly connected to it.

So, imagine you're on a road trip with a few kids in the back, and they each have a different Wi-Fi device, such as a smartphone, tablet, laptop or media player like an iPod touch. As long as they join the GoFlex Satellite drive (as if they were joining a Wi-Fi network), they can open an app or launch the web browser to see and access the contents of the hard drive.

In our testing, it was possible to stream three high-definition movies to three devices, simultaneously — therefore each passenger can watch what they want on their own device. Once you go over three streams it can begin to affect performance of the stream. Of course this gadget can be used at home, too.

The only other limitation is in the file formats supported. Because an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad can't play .AVI or .WMV files, for example, it won't be able to stream those videos from the GoFlex Satellite hard drive. .M4V or .MP4 video files will work just fine, however.

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While the drive only offers a capacity of 500GB, it still translates to more than 300 high-def movies you can access anywhere. Plus, consider most portable devices like smartphones and tablets usually max out at 64GB anyway.

While the GoFlex Satellite creates its own Wi-Fi hotspot, keep in mind you can't get online through this drive. It only creates a wireless connection between the drive and the device you're streaming to. But at least you don't need a wireless network to use the drive — hence the road trip scenario. Battery life tops five hours for playback and more than 25 hours on standby.

While there's some content preloaded on the devices, such as some cartoons and Discovery Channel programming, you'll first want to connect the GoFlex Satellite drive to a PC or Mac via USB 3.0 connectivity (compatible with USB 2.0) and drag and drop content onto the drive. Optional interfaces include FireWire 800 and powered eSATA (sold separately).

Click here for more info on the Seagate GoFlex Satellite portable and wireless hard drive.

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