Simple and effective Web interface
To access the Central's Web interface for the first time from a computer within the same local network, just point a browser to http://seagate.com/central/setup, then follow the instructions to detect the NAS server and create an user account which is to be used to log in the server's Web interface. After that, you can always return to this interface via the server's IP address.
The interface is organized in five tabs, including Home, Users, Social, Services, and Settings. The Home tab list all most recently changes made to the NAS server. You can click any of them to quickly adjust or reverse the setting. Other tabs are generally self-explanatory. For example, the User tab allows for adding more user accounts to the NAS server, the Services tab is for turning on or off the server's remote access and media-related services. The Settings tab is where you can mange the server's settings, such as its name, its IP address, updating its firmware, and so on.
Generally, the Central's interface is simple and easy to use, but it does lack some level of depth. For example, as mentioned above, you can only turn the media streaming features on or off, but you can't pick what folders should be scanned for digital content and so on. The server will scan all public folders for this purpose.
Media streaming, remote access, and mobile apps
The Seagate Central is designed for easy media streaming, both locally and over the Internet. The server automatically organizes the content it stores according to media type, such as videos, pictures, music, and documents. After that, you can stream them via mobile apps or the Samsung Smart TV app, as well as any DLNA-compatible media streamer.
The Central supports all major mobile devices, including iOS devices, Android devices, Blu-ray players, and the Amazon Kindle HD. It also supports Apple AirPlay. All in all, nearly any network-connected device can connect to it and stream content from it, and all popular mobile platforms are supported. As mentioned above, it also comes with an app for Samsung Smart TV that allows for streaming content to the TV without using a third-party device.
The Seagate Central supports remote access for each user account. To enable remote access for an account, just add an e-mail to that account. The user will then receive an activation e-mail. After responding, remote access will be available to him or her.
The account owner can now remotely access the content stored on the Central via either a browser (for computers) or the Seagate Media mobile app (for smartphones or tablets).
To access via a browser, just point the browser to https://access.seagate.com and log in with the provided e-mail and the password of the user account. Now you can browse the Public share folder's content as well as the account's private content. In my trial, browsing was very sluggish and as such was a pain to use. For example, I couldn't download or upload a folder at time; instead, I was limited to just an individual file at a time. It takes a long time for playback of a song to start, let alone a video. Generally, I found remote access via the Web interface is close to useless due to the slowness.
On the other, it worked much better using the Seagate Media mobile app. In this case, the app worked very much like when it's used with the Seagate Wireless Plus: digital contents are organized by categories for streaming, and you also have the option to browse by folder. You can also back up the mobile device's user-generated contents back to the NAS server.
The Seagate Central did well for a single volume NAS server in my testing. Via a Gigabit connection, it offered some 40MBps for writing and about 74MBps for reading, being one of the fastest among the single-volume NAS crowd. Note that most advanced NAS servers -- multiple-volume storage spaces -- offer much faster speed, but they are also significantly more expensive.
At this speed, the Seagate Central can easily accommodate all data sharing and media streaming for an average home. The server also worked very quietly and remained cool during heavy loads.
(Via wired Gigabit Ethernet connection, measured in megabyte per second,
Longer bars indicate better performance)
With the Central, Seagate manages to offer a lot in a small, simple network storage package that, for the most part, delivers. However, the server would be a much better storage device if it could host two hard drives and supported RAID 1 for data protection. For now, it's a very good addition for a connected home when used strictly for backup and entertainment purposes.