Macworld|iWorld: Seagate Wireless Plus

At the front of the show floor this year the Seagate booth caught my eye. While my Drobo has reduced my need for desktop hard drives, I am a sucker for portable drives, but how many do you need? The Seagate Wireless Plus 1TB is special. It's a 1TB hard drive with a wireless access point and a battery built in. It comes bundled with free software for iOS that allows you to access data stored on the drive, transfer data from your iPhone or iPad back to the drive, or stream media from iOS via Airplay. It will also function just as a standard USB 3.0 hard drive.

So when would you use this type of drive? My upcoming trip to Alaska is the perfect example. Ideally, I'd like to only take my iPad and avoid the extra bulk and accessories that come with traveling with a laptop. My 16GB iPad is normally more than enough storage space for me but the one time it feels cramped is when I travel and load it up with TV shows and movies for the plane. I can attach the Wireless Plus Drive to my Mac via USB 3 and transfer my video files to the drive and on the plane, wirlessly stream the videos to not only my iPad but also up to three different iOS devices without eating up all the storage space on my iPad. You can also stream different shows to different devices which will be great for families.

When I get to Alaska I'm going to be taking lots of high resoultion photos with my camera and want to back them up while I'm on the trip. I can transfer the photos back to my iPad each night using the Camera Connection Kit but my iPad will only hold so many photos and Wi-Fi will be spotty so solutions like Photostream and Dropbox could be hit or miss. Again, the Wireless Plus hard drive solves a problem here too. If I transfer photos to my iPad every night I can review and delete as necessary, then using the accompanying App, transfer the photos from the iPad to the hard drive. Now I have the benefit of not only having the photos on the data card, but also on the hard drive.

The Wireless Plus works on iOS with most standard media formats and can also be used for documents as it works with the "Open In" feature. The battery life is advertised at 10 hours but your time will vary depending on configuration and the umber of connected clients. Though it should be plenty for a cross-country flight. I couldn't find exact specifiations on Seagate's site but according to reps on the show floor it will support WEP and WPA encryption as well as "all modern wireless standards." At $199 it's more expensive than most 1TB hard drives, but this unit serves a unique purpose and if you're a frequent traveler it's a nice addition to your bag not only for it's iOS friendly features but for general backup of your laptop.