Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex TV HD Media Player Review: Video and Internet Playback

July 6, 2010 by J.R. Nelson 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

Video and audio and Internet, oh my!
Netflix is the most obvious addition, and while the functionality is limited, the execution is spot on. Once users activate the FreeAgent GoFlex TV on their account (it takes a simple trip to Netflix.com in a web browser), the device can immediately access anything for playback from the instant streaming queue.  Unfortunately, titles can’t be added to the queue from the device.  Still, the quality was superb, considering the streaming source, and even Netflix’s recent ‘HD’ upgrade is supported.

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

In addition to Netflix, users can also get Internet video from YouTube, with a GoFlex TV client that includes account logins, video searching and more. Videos can be played back either inset, with show information around them, or stretched to fill the whole screen – just like on a computer. There’s also support for the Mediafly content network as well as several thousand Internet radio stations.

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

Interestingly, Seagate added in functionality to play back a select number of video podcasts.  There’s a wide selection, with popular content from news providers like CNN and MSNBC as well as tech favorites such as Revision3. The playback is smooth and pretty fast – but what you see is what you get.  So far, there doesn’t seem to be any functionality to add your own feeds to this list.  It’s clear that all the unit is doing is parsing an RSS feed, so it shouldn’t be too much work for Seagate to add in support for user-added video streams. Given the built-in firmware updater, hopefully the company will insert this functionality at a later date.

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

There’s also a rudimentary text RSS reader, though only content from CNN, NPR and the BBC is available. It’s odd, seeing just those three listed. Reading a lot of text on a TV isn’t that pleasant, however, so while the same restriction on adding new content exists in the text feeds as on the video feeds, the issue doesn’t feel as chafing. Seagate also added in very basic weather and stock widgets, but chances are most people will get the information more quickly from other sources.

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.

Powerful, but hot
While the GoFlex TV hd media player is relatively powerful, it can also get pretty warm. Running the device with a USB memory stick and a portable hard drive inside caused temperatures to shoot up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit – while it’s no fire hazard or anything like that, it’s probably a good idea to keep the box out of confined spaces if you’re going to be using it with the drive bay engaged.

Conclusion
Seagate may seem to be playing catch up to Western Digital in the home entertainment arena, but it’s obvious that they’re not merely copying. The FreeAgent GoFlex TV HD media player is a fairly innovative unit that offers the flexibility of playing back almost any content from almost any source. Whether it’s plugged into the unit itself, sitting on a computer across the room, or accessing a server across the country, the GoFlex TV funnels the content straight to your television.

The device does leave room for improvement. There are inconsistencies in the UI as well as occasional slowdowns or bugs that will no doubt be ironed out in a future update. Additionally, the inability to add extra video feeds is frustrating, but fortunately Seagate includes a few dozen out of the box and (when paired with a high-speed Internet connection) playback is fast and smooth.

The FreeAgent GoFlex TV does carry a high price tag at $129.99. Compared to other devices, however, the Seagate box offers users an extremely competitive featureset. 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.

Pros:

  • Small
  • Easy to hook up
  • Plays everything
  • Internet connectivity

Cons:

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


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