Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex TV (STAJ100) HD media player
Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex TV review: A Full HD media streamer that can play content off a hard drive or a network
- Small size, comprehensive file support, two USB 2.0 ports, Ethernet port, YouTube and Flickr access, easy to use
- Remote control could be better, file listing for videos could be better, file index has to be rebuilt every time you switch on the unit
If you're looking for a small network media streamer that can also play content off USB hard drives, Seagate's FreeAgent GoFlex TV HD Media Player is a great choice. It has a clean interface that's easy to use and it supports a huge range of file formats.
Price$ 149.00 (AUD)
The Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex TV is a tiny media streamer that can be used to play content from your home network, off an attached external USB hard drive, through a GoFlex ultraportable hard drive, or from a Web-based service. It has a clean interface and a very basic remote control, and it doesn't take a rocket surgeon to set it up.
Perhaps the easiest way to get the FreeAgent GoFlex TV up and running is to hook it up to your television using HDMI (you can use Composite or Component if you have an older TV) and attach an external USB 2.0 drive with your content already on it. Once you switch on the FreeAgent GoFlex TV, it will index the hard drive and you'll be able to venture into the interface's video, music and photo sections to browse and play your content.
However, before you do that, you'll have to fiddle with one crucial system setting: the video output. When we hooked it up to our 40in Full HD Samsung LCD TV via HDMI, the FreeAgent GoFlex TV didn't recognise this connection automatically and the interface looked unflatteringly boxy and pixellated. We had to look through the menu system to find the video settings and switch its output to HDMI (Auto). Once we did that, the interface looked crisp, and dare we say it, very nice. However, it's not as nice as the interface on the WD TV Live Hub media streamer.
Video files are displayed in thumbnail form on the screen by default, but unfortunately, only one of our test videos (a VOB file) had its thumbnail displayed. The rest just had the same default blank thumbnail. Browsing up and down file lists was a little sluggish, as was the interface as a whole, but it wasn't an excruciating experience. The FreeAgent GoFlex TV played every file we threw at it, including MOV files, AVI (Divx and Xvid) files, Matroska (MKV) files and VOB files from ripped DVDs. Playback of all files was smooth (even HD files) and the player supports resumed playback.
Music files and videos play one after the other in series, so you don't have to create playlists (though playlists are supported) or manually play each file in the list. This feature works nicely when your files are organised neatly in folders; you can easily browse a hard drive's file structure to access your content.
Tip: The Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex TV has only a wired Ethernet port for network connectivity. To connect it to a router, you will need to use an Ethernet cable, or you could opt for an Ethernet-over-powerline adapter or an Etherent-to-Wi-Fi adapter.
There are two USB 2.0 ports on the FreeAgent GoFlex TV, one at the back and one on side. They support drives with FAT, FAT32, NTFS and HFS+ file systems. There is a 100Mbps Ethernet port on the rear (a Wi-Fi adapter is optional). It's easy to play content off a network location, especially if you use a Windows 7 computer. As long as your folders are shared and you have proper permissions set up for it on your computer, you can browse to those folders easily through the FreeAgent GoFlex TV's interface. This worked like a charm during our tests.
Furthermore, once the streamer is connected to your network, you can watch YouTube videos and view Flickr photos and also access other online services, including up-to-date weather information. It should be noted that some content on YouTube can't be viewed if the content producer has disallowed playback on streaming TV-connected devices, and there are also some services listed that can't be used by Aussie users, such as Netflix.
If you own a Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex ultraportable hard drive, you can plug it in to the GoFlex TV's slot. This makes for a very neat solution as there is one less cable you have to manage.
The Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex TV ships with a remote control that we found a little on the small side and poorly laid out; the power button is directly above the up-arrow for some reason, and very easy to press accidentally. We don't approve of the lack of dedicated buttons for accessing videos, photos and music directly, but we do like the fact that it has its own volume controls. You have to supply your own video cables to set up the FreeAgent GoFlex TV; only a network cable and a power adapter are supplied in the box.
Our experience with the FreeAgent GoFlex TV was a positive one overall and we think it's a nice little media streamer for users who want to access content off an external USB drive or a network location. Some aspects of its interface could be better, such as the presentation of thumbnails for video files, and we wish its remote had a better layout and dedicated content buttons. That said, this streamer performed well in our tests, produced good image quality and we think it's a nice little unit that will be inconspicuous when placed next to a big-screen TV.
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