Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex TV HD Media Player Review

by Reads (24,558)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Software & Support
    • 7
    • Upgrade Capabilities
    • 7
    • Usability
    • 10
    • Design
    • 8
    • Performance
    • 6
    • Features
    • 9
    • Total Score:
    • 7.83
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

Overview

  • Pros

    • Small
    • Easy to hook up
    • Plays everything
  • Cons

    • Runs very hot
    • Can't add new RSS feeds
    • Wireless = fifty bucks more

Quick Take

If you're looking for an easy way to get almost any content from almost any source onto your TV, the GoFlex TV deserves a look.


The living room is finally getting the attention it deserves, and companies are falling all over themselves to be the box in everyone’s living room. Seagate is no exception. Like Western Digital, the storage company sees the burgeoning market space as a way to sell more hard drives, but are their efforts worth your cash? Read on and find out.

Specifications:

  • 2x USB 2.0 port, Seagate portable drive bay
  • Video: HDMI out, Composite video out, Component video out, Optical S/PDIF audio out
  • Networking: Gigabit Ethernet
  • Wireless networking: supported via additional adapter
  • Remote control
  • Warranty: one year limited parts and labor

The Seagate GoFlex TV is currently available for pre-order, and will retail with an MSRP of $129.99.

Digital Swiss army knife
The GoFlex TV is essentially a little black box that users can hook up to their TV and use to play, well, almost anything. Seagate’s entry into the home entertainment market is essentially a direct response to Western Digital’s WD TV series of HD players.

Both companies are, at their core, directly focused on storage products. Hard drives, both internal and external, SSDs, portable drives – these products are how each company really makes its bread and butter. People are keeping more data than ever before, especially in the form of multimedia content. Everyone buys, downloads and streams movies and television shows, stores high quality digital audio and keeps copies of every photo they ever take with their digital camera.

It’s that reason why companies like Seagate are tapping into living rooms everywhere. By providing an easy-to-use device that accepts locally- and network-attached storage that is capable of playing just about digital media file ever, the company entices customers to keep downloading more and more. The more they download, after all, the more storage space they’ll need. It’s a clever gambit.

 

Little, black, different
The GoFlex TV is a bit larger than some alternatives on the market, but that’s not to say it’s big. In fact, the device is smaller than just about any other box that most people will ever have in their entertainment centers. On the front of the device is a shiny black plastic panel emblazoned with the Seagate logo – this panel flips down to reveal a 2.5-inch drive bay with hot-swappable SATA power and data plugs at the end.

This drive bay is designed to perfectly one of Seagate’s portable GoFlex drives – just pop off the end of the drive and slide right into place. It’s worth noting, however, that the the connections inside are industry standards. So while Seagate may not support it, it shouldn’t be too difficult to plug in any regular 2.5-inch (laptop-style) drive.

Both sides have venting holes which is important, since the utterly-silent device is passively cooled, and the right also has one of the unit’s two USB 2.0 ports and a reset button. The USB ports are where USB sticks or portable hard drives can be attached – the unit will read media off of these as easily as it will off of an internally-mounted GoFlex portable drive.

Around the back are another USB 2.0 port, one Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI-out, composite and component video (and analog stereo) out, S/PDIF digital audio out and the 5V DC power jack. Seagate includes composite and component cables for attaching the GoFlex TV, but it doesn’t include HDMI. Given that HDMI is likely the most popular connection used with this device, the company really should include a little cheap one in the box.

Software
The Seagate GoFlex TV media player supports the following audio and video formats:

Video Audio
  • MPEG-4 (XviD)
  • MPEG-2 (VOB/ISO)
  • XviD HD
  • DivX HD
  • MPEG-1
  • AVC HD
  • TS/TP/M2T
  • RMVB Real Media
  • DivX
  • VC-1
  • M2TS
  • WMV9
  • H.264
  • MKV/MOV/AVI containers
  • WMA Pro
  • WMA
  • Dolby Digital
  • ADPCM
  • FLAC
  • AAC
  • ASF
  • DTS
  • LPCM
  • OGG
  • WAV
  • MP3

The unit also supports 576i/p, 480i/p, 720p, 1080i and 1080p video resolutions.

Calling it a digital Swiss army knife isn’t too far from the truth. Just about every popular (and some not so) format being used today is supported by the device. Chances are, anything you can download – as long as it isn’t encumbered by DRM – can be played by the GoFlex.

None of that matters if this unit is hard to use, since if the UI is complicated or hard to use, the experience won’t be pleasant. Fortunately, Seagate has improved this aspect by leaps and bounds: early attempts at a home entertainment box, like the first FreeAgent Theater line, were excessively slow and buggy, with unattractive interfaces.

Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex TV HD Media Player Review Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex TV HD Media Player Review Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex TV HD Media Player Review

The GoFlex is driven entirely by the remote control, and as soon as it’s turned on, shows most of the available options – video, audio, Internet, local storage, networked storage, etc. Selecting video will bring up all of the previously-indexed video content, while selecting a specific hard drive or network share will bring up all of the media found in those directories. There is a noticeable delay between pressing a button on the remote and seeing the action executed on screen, but it’s mostly acceptable. Occasionally, however, you might find yourself pressing the button again, which leads to the menu skipping past where you intended to go.

The UI is sparse but functional; Western Digital’s is prettier, but the GoFlex certainly isn’t ugly. Video content played back beautifully on a 1080p screen, with no detectable artifacting or loss of detail. Honestly, though, lots of devices play back local video and audio content – one of the things that sets the GoFlex apart is its ties to the Internet, with a number of different video and audio sources.

Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex TV HD Media Player Review Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex TV HD Media Player Review Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex TV HD Media Player Review

Be sure to check out more pictures of the GoFlex TV interface here.


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