Seagate on Tuesday launched the next generation of its FreeAgent hard drives, an innovative GoFlex family that combines interchangeable cables with a number of storage and external connectivity solutions.
Seagate's new FreeAgent GoFlex family is made up of three components: ultra-portable and desktop drives; storage system devices, which include an HD media player, network sharing device,and a smart dock; and a whole host of interface cables, one of which contains ingrained intelligence to enable new capabilities.
All told, Seagate's new GoFlex family includes nineteen new products, excluding different storage capacity options. There's also one other twist: for the first time, Seagate will include an NTFS driver for Mac OS X on all GoFlex portable and desktop offerings, enabling storage and access of files from both Windows and Mac computers.
"The GoFlex family of storage products meets this need by delivering simple, USB 2.0 storage and backup devices, with the flexibility to adapt as interface technology advances by using the various GoFlex cables and accessories to access content stored on the same drive," Dave Mosley, executive vice president, sales, marketing and product line management at Seagate, said in a statement.
The interchangeable cables mean that customers will be able to use a standard USB 2.0 cable if they so wish, then upgrade to a faster USB 3.0 cable if and when they receive a PC to go along with it. Unlike conventional drives, the cables don't need to be paired with the host controller that's in the drives. And the cables just snap in, like extension cords.
At its core, the GoFlex family is all about storage, and even here, Seagate provided a host of options. Customers have an option to purchase either an ultra portable drive (in 14.5-mm or 22-mm versions), an ultra-portable "Pro" version, or a desktop drive. The GoFlex Desk drives ship in either 1-terabyte or 2-Tbyte capacity points for $119.99 and $189.99, respectively; priced as a kit, with continuous backup and a USB 2.0 cable, raises the price by $10.
The portable drives come in either 320-Gbyte, 500-Gbyte, 750-Gbyte, or a terabyte, with prices ranging from $89.99 on up to $189.99 for the terabyte option. Various color options are included. Again, adding a USB 2.0 cable costs an extra $10. The GoFlex Pro ultra portable drive spins at a faster 7,200 RPM, includes backup with encryption capabilities, and is priced at $129.99 for 500 Gbytes, and $179.99 for 750-Gbytes.
The GoFlex cables are where Seagate has tried to separate itself from the competition.
However, the flexibility will also cost more, and users may end up thinking twice about buying multiple cables, or choosing a drive from another vendor with a multi-interface configuration, such as a eSATA/USB 2.0 combination.
Seagate will charge $29.99 for the USB 3.0 cable, for example, or $79.99 for the cable and a USB 3.0 ExpressCard solution. An eSATA cable will cost $19.99, and a FireWire 800 cable will be priced at $39.99. But there's some value-added features, too, including an auto-backup upgrade cable, that as the name suggests, continuously backs up your drive for $29.99. A USB 3.0 adapter for the standard desktop drive will be priced at $39, while a PCI Express card-based kit will cost $79. A FireWire 800/USB 2.0 combo adapter is priced at $49.99.
Not to be outdone, Seagate has also added three "storage system devices," or external products that can be linked to the GoFlex drives. GoFlex drives simply plug into all three, somewhat like the "Drive Bay" concept that Seagate and other drive vendors floated during the late 1990s.
The $129.99 GoFlex TV HD Media Player, available in early June, is the successor to the FreeAgent Media Player, a small module that read video content off of a hard disk and played it back on a TV. The GoFlex version performs the same tasks, either playing video up to 1080p using the HDMI cable off of the GoFlex drive or another that can be connected via a USB cable; Internet video, including Netflix, YouTube, and Paramount, can also be streamed.
The $99.99 Net Media sharing device essentially turns the GoFlex drive into a NAS, viewable and sharable by the outside world as well, if so configured. The devices integrates PogoPlug technology, which users will have to register with after buying the device, Seagate said. Users can listen to music, watch movies and access content from iPhone, iPad, Blackberry or Android mobile devices, or on the network via an integrated Gigabit Ethernet connection.
Finally, an intelligent dock transforms the ultra portable GoFlex drive into a desktop solution, with backup and a capacity gauge.
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