The GoFlex Satellite's Wi-Fi network can support just three wireless clients at a time, which is very limited. Seagate says that this can be changed later via a firmware update and the reason for this is to ensure the bandwidth for a good streaming experience. Another drawback is the fact that the device can't work with an existing Wi-Fi network, or even a wired network to offer access to the Internet at the same time. For now, iPad owners have to pick either to connect to it, and stream media, or to another wireless network to gain access to the Internet. For this reason, for now, if you want to have access to both at the same time, you'll need an iPad that has 3G support. Seagate says that it plans to make the device also work as a Wi-Fi extender via a firmware update.
Despite the added Wi-Fi network and an internal battery, the GoFlex Satellite is about the same physical size as the GoFlex Ultra-portable, and is very compact. It has a power button on a size that you need to press and hold for a few seconds to turn it on or off. On top it has two status lights, one for the wireless network and the second to show the battery/power condition.
The GoFlex Satellite can work as either an external hard drive or the Wi-Fi storage extender at a time. This is why the second power cable is necessary. It only charges the device without changing its operation mode. When plugged in to a computer using the USB 3.0 adapter, on the other hand, the drive will automatically work as an external hard drive, though it will also charge it internal hard drive this way.
The GoFlex Satellite comes in black and is preformatted using the NTFS file system (Windows). However, it comes with a software driver that enables Macs to have full read and write access to it. This is similar to the rest of the GoFlex family and adds a significant deal to the flexibility of the drive, as well as the value in terms of usage. Without the software, the only way for a drive to work with both platforms is using FAT32, which limits the maximum file size to less than 4GB (unsuitable for storing high-def content).
We tested the GoFlex Satellite both as a storage extender for the iPad and a regular external hard drive.
As a storage extender, it worked well and can stream content to an iPad that's up to 100 feet away. Obviously, the further the distance, the longer the buffering time is needed. The device works best when it's about 75 feet or closer from the streamer. We did notice that the GoFlex Media app took a long time, up to a few minutes, to do the "fetching initial data" when display photos individually. Oddly, this didn't happen with music or videos or when multiple photos are selected.
Another complaint is the fact that the app doesn't work in the background, this means you can't play music from the GoFlex Media while doing other things on the iPad, such as reading a book or playing a puzzle game. The app also crashed a few times during our trial. As this is the initial release, we hope this will be fixed via an update. It's important to note, however, that most of the time, the app worked well and as intended.
In our trials, the GoFlex Satellite's battery indeed offered about 5 hours of continuous streaming. The drive got rather warm after working for an extended amount of time, which we found normal for a device of its type.
As an external hard drive, the GoFlex Satellite offered about the same performance as others in the GoFlex portable family in USB 2.0 tests, scoring 28.8MBps and 37.2MBps for writing and reading, respectively, among the top three of the chart. In USB 3.0 tests, on the other hand, the drive, though much faster than when used with USB 2.0, wasn't as fast as most other USB 3.0 we've reviewed, registering 69.3MBps for writing and 76.1MBps for reading. Nonetheless, at these speeds, the drive will work for quickly transferring a large a mount of storage.
(Measured in MB per second/Longer bars indicate faster performance)
( Measured in MB per second/Longer bars indicate faster performance.)
Service and support
As with the GoFlex Ultra Slim, Seagate backs the GoFlex Satellite with a three-year warranty, which is one year longer than that of the GoFlex Ultra-portable. This is good news as the length of warranty is the most important factor for storage devices when it comes to service and support. Seagate's Web site contains a comprehensive list of forums, knowledge bases, driver downloads, installation help, and FAQs to help you troubleshoot your drive. The company's technical support is also available via live chat, e-mail, and phone from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. PT weekdays.
The four-star GoFlex Satellite didn't receive our Editors' Choice award only because of its lack of support for Internet access and comparatively low USB 3.0 performance. Nonetheless, at its current state, the device still makes an excellent portable hard drive and a must-have for iPad owners.