I bought a Seagate GoFlex Satellite hard drive whilst I was away on holiday, for the princely sum of about £110.00, thanks to the exchange rates.
But exactly what is a Seagate GoFlex Satellite drive anyway?
Basically, it’s a small and very portable hard drive that has a wifi broadcaster in it. Built in to the firmware is a media server and it has a rechargeable battery built in to. Basically, you can think of it a an external hard drive for your iPad. It can hold music, videos, documents, files of any kind, so it is a pretty useful device all round, and the fact that you can connect to it through wifi is really cool… it can stay in a bag or coat pocket and you can watch your videos or listen to your extremely large music library on your iPad.
The latest version of the firmware also allows you to set the device up as a bridge to a wider area network too. This means your iPad can connect to the GoFlex wifi, which in turn connects on to your normal wifi that gets you onto the internet. Lovely – I can now listen to music and surf the web at the same time.
But all of this is only useful if you have got a very small capacity iPad, or iPhone, like me. My iTunes library alone would need six iPads to fit all of it on, and so an external device like this is super useful for me. But there is a slight issue for me. I also own and use an Apple TV device.
Apple TV boxes are awesome. You can call up any content on your iPhone or iPad (or mac computer) and stream it to the Apple TV, which plays it through your normal TV set. I love this and really enjoy being able to show images or videos to a group of friends all at the same time. The bad news is that the GoFlex media player does not allow you to stream directly to the TV.
Worse, the GoFlex media player does not really like anything other than MP4 files for video, and that’s not yet what most of the videos are that I like to play.
The good news is there is a solution to both these dilemmas.
Firstly, you could use Handbrake to convert all of your video files to MP4. It works a treat and if you let it run overnight it’ll pretty much convert most of your stuff flawlessly, depending on how much stuff you’ve got of course! However, you can also use other video playback apps from the app store and connect them to your GoFlex device too.
But the best news is that the GoFlex device also has a HTTP connection, and if you simply type in the IP address of the GoFlex Satellite into a web browser on your iPad, you will see the same media server interface created through HTML. This is very good, because from there you can play a video AND you can send it to your AppleTV as well. And it works, perfectly!
To make this a little more robust I tried connecting the Apple TV and the iPad to the GoFlex Satellite wifi instead of the usual connection to the web. I then set the GoFlex wifi to use the house wifi to get out to the internet. In effect, AppleTV was connecting to things like YouTube through the GoFlex Satellite and it worked perfectly. The videos on the GoFlex device played through the iPad and on to the Apple TV and out to the main TV screen, and I could also read email on the iPad as I was doing all of this.
So – I now have an ultra portable hard drive for my iPad so I can keep as much data as I need when I am travelling, and I can watch videos of my own choice on airplane journeys, and of course I can watch them on my home TV when I am there, too. I’ve yet to try it on a long car journey with the kids watching videos they want to watch, but apparently the GoFlex Satellite allows multiple simultaneous connections… I’ll test that another time, but for now I am delighted with the new gadgetry!