Introduction and design
Seagate added a strange looking product to its portfolio earlier this year. No, I am not talking about the Seagate Seven which was reviewed recently, but the Wireless Mobile Storage instead.
This product is essentially a consumer-focused, wireless network attached storage, not unlike the Seagate Wireless Plus 2TB drive we reviewed last year. The device can create its own private network with up to three users connected concurrently.
It has an integrated battery that can power the device for up to six hours – that longevity will vary due to a number of factors like the type of content, whether you're streaming, and how many people are connected to it.
This is a 500GB wireless mobile storage device that looks a bit like a rather large pebble. Unlike its bigger brother, the Seagate Backup Plus 8TB, this one has soft edges. Seagate offers the gadget in five different colour options, a move perhaps to make storage become a bit more trendy.
At just over 280g, it is roughly about the size of a double CD case (remember those?) and fits comfortably on your palm (provided you have fairly big hands). Note that there's no Seagate branding other than on the bottom of the device.
It is solidly built and other than a big power button and status LEDs (power, wired connectivity, wireless connectivity), the only other feature worth mentioning is a micro-USB 2.0 port that is used for charging the device and transferring data (as expected you won't be able to use wireless and wired data transfer simultaneously).
Seagate is clearly targeting customers who may not be very tech-savvy, but who want to get a plug-and-play wireless device to store their content. So it's not a surprise therefore that data transfer/access is mostly expected to be done wirelessly rather than via a USB cable.
You access the device using Seagate's Media App, which is standard across the whole range of wireless Seagate storage solutions (which means that it hasn't been dumbed down or adapted for less savvy users).
The app is fairly straightforward and allows for limited file management capabilities. As is the case for most bundled applications, Seagate stuck to the most basic set of features – it does allow for an auto-upload feature as well as remote access over the internet (i.e. using the device as an access point). If you want a more versatile backup solution, then check out our top 10 backup solutions on the market.
Also we fail to understand why Seagate chooses to ship its devices with an unsecured wireless connection. You need to change your login details as soon as possible after you connect and leave the storage device in wireless mode.
The drive is based on a 5400RPM, single platter 2.5-inch hard disk drive with 16MB of cache, and it managed to deliver decent performance despite being connected via a USB 2.0 port.
Using CrystalDiskMark, it managed just over 35MBps on sequential read/write benchmarks, achieving 136 IOPS and 255 IOPS on read and write, respectively.
As for its streaming performance, we managed to stream three HD videos from the device to a trio of mobile devices, without any visible lag but again, as for battery life, this will very much depend on your content, the immediate environment and the number of devices connected to the Seagate drive.
All in all, the Seagate Wireless Mobile Storage looks like a decent enough device – but I am unhappy with it. The reason is simple – Seagate's own Wireless Plus device is a vastly superior product as far as I am concerned. As such the WMS suffers from what I would call 'bad product placement syndrome'.
Seagate tried to innovate by offering the Wireless Mobile Storage drive in five colours. The device also distinguishes itself from the rest of the competition when it comes to the design, and the fact that it has an actual power button.
It is relatively bulky for a storage device, and something more portable would have been preferred. Seagate oddly chose to fit in a USB 2.0 port rather than a USB 3.0 model, something that makes it a chore to transfer large amounts of data; it would probably take days to transfer half a terabyte of data.
Amazon sells Seagate's 500GB Wireless Plus drive for £78, and the Wireless Mobile Storage costs £94 from the same vendor – 20% more, in other words. The Wireless Plus Drive has a more classic (I'd say subdued) design, fits comfortably in a jeans pocket, allows up to eight devices to connect at the same time, has a battery life of up to 10 hours and comes with a USB 3.0 port.
Bear in mind that 500GB can get filled up really quickly, so it might be worth investing a bit more to future-proof your device. The 2TB Wireless Plus model we tested last year offers four times the capacity for a 67% premium.
Given all this, there's very little to recommend anyone to buy this device especially as both of these Seagate offerings use the same application/software platform. Don't get me wrong, the Wireless Mobile Storage is not fundamentally a bad device, but you don't have to look far to discover another more compelling alternative.