UPDATE: This review was updated in October 2012 to reflect a newer firmware version that enables pass-through mode (see below).
This drive is made specifically to serve your mobile fix, and will be of particular interest to iPad owners.
Seagate’s GoFlex Satellite is a 500GB drive with a Wi-Fi radio inside. Connect to it wirelessly wherever you are and partake in the movies, shows or music stored within. Fill it up and charge the Lithium-ion battery by plugging it into your computer. When you want to watch a movie or listen to some music, whip out your tablet and switch your connection from your regular Wi-Fi network to the ad hoc network created by the drive.
Seagate has been selling this drive for a while (we first reviewed it in 2011) but there’s a new firmware update that allows a “pass-through mode,” so you can stay attached to the drive via the ad hoc Wi-Fi network, but access your regular Wi-Fi network so you can browse the web.
To access your files, you can use Seagate’s free app for iOS, which has a nice embedded player for watching the videos and playing the songs stored on the drive. The Seagate player app was mostly painless to set up and use on an iPad. Android users (and anyone else) can use the web browser.
Battery lasts between four and six hours (I always made it through two movies) and there’s a car charger in the box for keeping it alive during road trips.
One hiccup — the Satellite is an NTFS volume, and works flawlessly on Windows PCs. But if you’re a Mac owner, you have to install a small piece of commercial software (from Paragon) on your main computer that gives you NTFS read/write capabilities. Otherwise, the drive is read-only on a Mac, and reformatting it cripples its functionality as a Wi-Fi drive. You can side-step this limitation using free software or command-line tools, but our mileage with those varied. So if you have multiple Macs in your house, it’s a struggle to load files onto the drive from any computer that doesn’t have Paragon’s NTFS tools installed. The drive comes with one Paragon license, but additional licenses are $20 each. On a Windows PC, this headache is non-existent. Still, these issues keep us from recommending it to less-techy users — nerds only!