The Teen Review: Seagate FreeAgent Go and DockStar
The DockStar– A little guy with a whole lot of punch
Ever be in school or at a friend’s house and go “oh I have that picture/assignment on my computer” only to sadly realize that your computer is at home? Ever been on the bus with your iPhone, BlackBerry, or Android phone and want to quickly look over that paper, listen to a song or watch a video that’s stored back home on your computer? Well, Seagate is here for you with their DockStar adapter for their FreeAgent Go portable hard drive line. We’ve had a chance to play with it, but does it live up to those high expectations of making your content truly available anywhere? Read on for our full review of both the FreeAgent Go and the DockStar!
Let’s start with the FreeAgent Go portable hard drive.
Sure all it is an external hard drive, but I gotta say, as far as these go, Seagate has done a great job in terms of design. A lot of other portable hard drives are plastic and honestly, feel really junky and fragile. Not the Go. Made with a metal-ish top with silver sides it felt to me to be much sturdier than other hard drives; and the flashing dots along the bottom half of the casing look pretty cool while the drive is in use. Now I’m not saying it will withstand a drop on concrete (a MacBook Pro couldn’t even do that), but in terms of bang for your buck design, it looks like here you’re getting what you pay for—in a good way.
The Go also comes loaded with backup software called Seagate Manager. In my tests it ran very well, doing back ups very quickly (always good), and offers a couple of cool features as well like encryption of files (setting a password on certain files that you’d like to keep more private), and Sync which makes sure your files are all up to date.
This is all very good, but there was one problem I encountered which I find a little troubling. The drive we tested was the 640 GB model (it comes from anywhere from 250 GB to even 1 TB), but it only had 596 GB actually available. Now I understand the need for the pre-loaded software to take up some memory, but not over 40 GB. After asking Seagate about the issue, they said that “this is due to the software (Seagate Manger) that is automatically installed on the drive, as well as the drive format. When you format a drive, the capacity size is (in some cases) significantly less than the full capacity of the drive.”
You can always format (read: delete everything from the hard drive) the hard drive to remove the Seagate software—though make sure you install it on your PC first—but still, playing your luck that you’re getting a drive that has maybe 10 GB off instead of 50 GB? That is a little troubling.
Now, let’s focus on the main attraction—the DockStar.
The DockStar is a really cool device. Plug in the power and a cable to your router and BOOM! you’ve got yourself access to all the files on your network from anywhere you have an internet connect. The FreeAgent go “docks” in the DockStar, but you can also connect additional hard drives (even those not made by Seagate) through USB.
In my tests this worked really well. Setup was a breeze— seriously, all the DockStar’s online access is run by a company called Pogoplug—and together they do a fantastic job. It seriously took 2 min to do. Just plug your DockStar into a wall socket or power strip, then connect your DockStar to your router with the supplied network cable. After that just go from your computer to my.pogoplug.com and type in your unique Pogoplug registration code (included with the documentation). That’s it! Your done, just plug-in a hard drive or USB stick (which could be any harddrive through the USB ports on the back of the DockStar) and everything is ready to work.
The Pogoplug service now takes over and handles most of the magic from here. Downloading a free program (for Mac or Windows) enables you complete access to all the files you have stored on your external hard drive from anywhere you have an internet connection. You can even use a web browser on say a friend’s computer and access your files from there. There even apps for iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry so you can access your files and even upload pictures wherever you are.
In my tests this all worked as advertised. Be it on my own PC in school, on a MacBook Pro at home, or on my iPhone on the bus—I was able to access everything from anywhere. I listened to music not stored on my iPhone but on the hard drive while on the bus, uploaded pix straight to it, and even downloaded files and papers to finish assignments (something this made a whole lot easier). All in all, this is pretty sick. And the Pogoplug desktop software even offers a feature called “Active Copy” which automatically will back up and save your data to drives connected to the DockStar and make sure that all your data is completely up to date.
So here’s the kicker—is this worth the $79.99? After using this, and as someone who is a strong proponent of constant back-ups, I gotta say yes. The DockStar is a great way to keep all your data up to date and within reach at all times, and trust us, you never know when you’ll need something at the last-minute and wish you could get to your computer to get it.
You can see more about the DockStar, including where to purchase, at Seagate’s site here.