updated 09:15 pm EDT, Tue May 4, 2010
Seagate GoFlex drives, media hub debut
Seagate tonight overhauled its entire external hard drive line in a way that renders them much more future proof. GoFlex supports USB 2.0 natively but has a unique cable system that adapts the drives to different standards or features. A drive could be upgraded to USB 3.0 or FireWire 800 just by getting the relevant adapter; an automatic backup cable can turn the drive into a backup system without needing more elaborate hardware.
The lineup also marks the first time that Seagate is catering to cross-platform environments. The company is bundling an NTFS file system driver for Macs that will let them read and write to GoFlex drives without having to reformat or rely on a third-party utility.
Initial drives mirror much of the existing FreeAgent line and include both portable and desktop regular versions. The 2.5-inch portable drives range in capacities of 320GB to 1TB and cost between $90 and $200, while the 3.5-inch desktop equivalents include automatic backup and sit at 1TB and 2TB for $130 and $200 respectively. Either can be had without a USB 2.0 cable for $10 less.
GoFlex Pro is only available in a notebook version but spins at 7,200RPM and supports encrypted backups in 500GB ($140) and 750GB ($190) capacities, again with $10 cheaper drive-only equivalents. After the sale, any of the drives can be upgraded with eSATA, FireWire 800, USB 3.0 or automated backup with prices ranging between $20 and $50. Docks for the portable drives cost $30. A pair of $80 desktop and notebook upgrade kits bundle the USB 3.0 cable with an ExpressCard or PCI Express upgrade card to give the faster speeds without having to wait for a new computer.
To complement the drives, Seagate has upgraded its media hubs with the GoFlex TV HD media player. It achieves the same goal and is meant to dock one of the portable drives to play media on a TV-sized interface. The player can take other storage through USB and will play up to 1080p videos as well as Netflix and YouTube videos, Picasa photo albums, and other online-only content.
A complementary GoFlex Net player is more focused and is meant only to share USB storage to computers, handhelds and other devices on the same local network. Social networking is a bonus and can optionally post updates to Facebook and Twitter.
The two media devices come without drives and cost $130 for the GoFlex TV HD and $100 for the GoFlex Net.
All of the external drives and the media players should be available as of today.