LAS VEGAS--If you own a GoFlex Satellite from Seagate, I have some excellent news.
Seagate announced today at CES a new firmware that turns the wireless storage expander for mobile devices into another much superior device. This is by far the most significant upgrade to the product.
First of all, the upgrade will give all of the existing GoFlex Satellites the capability to connect itself to an existing Wi-Fi network and share that connection with other Wi-Fi clients connected to it. This means, when your iPad is connected to the Wi-Fi network of the Satellite to stream content from it, you don't have to disconnect and reconnect it to another Wi-Fi network to gain access to the Internet. You'll have both the expansion of storage space and the connection to the Internet at the same time, as long as you use the Satellite in an area of another Wi-Fi network you're authorized to access.
In a demo, Seagate showed me how this can be done easily via the updated GoFlex Media mobile apps, which will be available when the firmware goes live. The new version of the app will come with a button at the lower-left corner that users can tap on to get the Satellite connected to a different Wi-Fi network.
This added function makes the Satellite close to a perfect companion for your iPad (or any other tablet or notebook with limited storage space). However, it's not all that the new firmware offers.
Other improvements also include the fact that the device will almost double its battery life from 4-5 hours to 8-10 hours of usage. This is because it now comes with a new mechanism that automatically pushes the entire content that is being streamed to the remote device and then goes into sleep mode when the buffering is done. On the client side, when the streamed content is done being watched, the GoFlex Media software will erase it to restore the device's storage space. This means the longer the movie you want to stream, the more likely you'll have longer battery life on the Satellite. In a normal scenario, with the new firmware, the device will have almost about the same battery life as the iPad itself.
The last major improvement is with the new firmware; users now can control the amount of concurrent Wi-Fi clients connected to the Satellite. Currently, only three clients can connect to it a time. The new firmware will allow up to eight clients at a time at the expense of limited streaming capability. If you want to make sure you can stream HD-content, the maximum amount of concurrent clients remains three.
Seagate says the new firmware will be made available during the first quarter of the year as a free update for all existing GoFlex Satellite devices.