Portable Media Server Grudge Match!

Seagate GoFlex Satellite vs Kingston Wi-Drive.

Portable Media Server Grudge Match!

Seagate GoFlex Satellite
MRP: Rs 11,500
Street Price (As On 20-Dec-2011): Rs 11,600 (Infibeam.com); Rs 12,200 (Flipkart.com)

Pros: USB 3.0 interface; Excellent transfer speeds; Ample storage space; Works with Android as well as iOS devices; Serves three devices simultaneously; Ships with AC and car chargers.
Cons: Large and heavy; Expensive.

Kingston Wi-Drive
MRP: Rs 10,000
Street Price (As On 20-Dec-2011): Rs 5400 + taxes (eBay.in)

Pros: Sleek and lightweight; Serves three devices simultaneously.
Cons: Woefully low storage space; Incredibly slow; High bitrate videos run out of buffer sometimes; Does not support Android; Uber-expensive; AC and car chargers not provided.


Portable Media Server Grudge Match!

The batteries have been placed to indicate the comparative size.

The price difference between a 16 and 64 GB iPhone 4S runs into Rs 13,000. That's a lot of money for just 48 GB of extra storage space. It's not just Apple that's to blame. This ridiculous premium on storage is seen across all touchscreen devices. The yuppies are hit the worst, since they have to buy at least three such devices between them, the wife, and the kid. Fortunately, the good people at Seagate and Kingston have devised portable media servers capable of supporting three devices simultaneously over Wi-Fi. Their latest offerings let you wirelessly share photos, audio, and video across many devices. Think of them as wireless network drives mated with Android \ iOS apps to make them touchscreen-friendly. For more information on what they are about, check out their respective launch articles: Seagate GoFlex Satellite and Kingston Wi-Drive.

The Seagate GoFlex Satellite and Kingston Wi-Drive may serve the same purpose, but they employ different technologies. The Satellite houses a magnetic platter-based 2.5" hard drive, whereas the Wi-Drive embraces flash storage. The drives are pegged at roughly similar price points, but the level of performance, storage, and portability offered varies wildly. This grudge match sees the two slug it out across eight parameters of design and build quality, features, capacity, portability, battery life, coverage, performance, and value for money.


Portable Media Server Grudge Match!

Round 1: Design And Build
Seagate GoFlex Satellite: The Seagate is almost similar to your average portable HDD, except that it's slightly thicker due to the extra Wi-Fi hardware. The plastic outer shell features a piano black gloss finish on the top and a matte surface at the bottom, replete with four tiny rubber feet. The sides are accented with a silver strip of plastic bearing a DC charging socket and a power switch on either side. The power socket isn't essential though, as the USB 3.0 Micro-B port at the front takes care of data as well as power when hooked up to a PC. The Satellite will fit into a jeans pocket, but isn't very portable due to its heft and bulk.

Kingston Wi-Drive: Like its rival, the Wi-Drive's all-black glossy plastic casing is a fingerprint magnet. A thin silver accent running across the sides houses a power switch cum indicator LED and a USB 2.0 Micro-B port. The Wi-Drive exploits its solid-state underpinnings to the fullest. It is thinner than a wallet and fits in your palm. While the Seagate is best carried around in a backpack, the Kingston was designed to be slipped into pockets. The diminutive Wi-Drive then gives the flabby GoFlex Satellite a bloody nose in this round.

Kingston Wi-Drive wins!
Score: Seagate GoFlex Satellite 0, Kingston Wi-Drive 1.


Portable Media Server Grudge Match!

Round 2: Features
Seagate GoFlex Satellite: The retail box ships with practically every single cable and accessory that you could wish for. Apart from the USB 3.0 data cable, you get a USB power cable, a car charger, and a modular AC charger with three different wall socket adaptors. The device is compatible with both Android and iOS, which is crucial since it can be used with three different devices simultaneously. Its USB 3.0 capability makes transferring huge volumes of data easier. The Android and iOS app interfaces are simple, yet offer comprehensive wireless control of the device.

Kingston Wi-Drive: This device ships with none of the fancy extras available with the GoFlex Satellite. All you get is one USB 2.0 Mini-B cable. You heard it right - the Wi-Drive doesn't even feature a USB 3.0 interface. This is a pity, because one expects an expensive flash-based drive to be super-fast. Choosing this product will also restrict you to iOS alone. If you were to carry this around, don't expect any love from your friends bearing Android devices. This time, the Kingston is easily outclassed by the Seagate.

Seagate GoFlex Satellite wins!
Score: Seagate GoFlex Satellite 1, Kingston Wi-Drive 1.

Round 3: Capacity
500 gigabytes of the Seagate against the Kingston's 16. This is a tough call indeed.

Seagate GoFlex Satellite wins!
Score: Seagate GoFlex Satellite 2, Kingston Wi-Drive 1.

Round 4: Portability
The Wi-Drive is a fraction of the Seagate's thickness and weight. If I were to carry around the GoFlex Satellite, I'd consider taking my bag along. The Wi-Drive in contrast feels right at home in my jeans pocket. It's a no-brainer.

Kingston Wi-Drive wins!
Score: Seagate GoFlex Satellite 2, Kingston Wi-Drive 2.

Round 5: Battery Life
The GoFlex Satellite managed just over four hours of streaming a high bitrate Blu-ray rip to a single iPod, whereas the Wi-Drive outlasted it by another 30 minutes. In other words, Seagate has overestimated its battery claim by 30 minutes, while Kingston has underestimated it by the same amount.

Kingston Wi-Drive wins!
Score: Seagate GoFlex Satellite 2, Kingston Wi-Drive 3.

Round 6: Wi-Fi Coverage
Both drives advertise a maximum coverage area of 30 feet. Like all claims, these hold true only under test conditions. In the real world, you are bound to be betrayed by radio signal-absorbing walls and furniture, way before you hit the 30-foot mark. In this test, both devices streamed high bitrate video with consummate ease in a reasonably large room. Once obscured by walls, the signal attenuated steeply. A simple head-to-head test with a laptop and a Wi-Fi signal monitoring tool showed almost similar signal strengths between the devices at various points in our office. There's no clear winner here.

It's a tie!
Score: Seagate GoFlex Satellite 3, Kingston Wi-Drive 4.


Portable Media Server Grudge Match!

Both drives offered similar levels of signal strength.

Round 7: Performance
It's all in the numbers really. In real-world conditions, the Seagate takes three minutes (30 MB/s) to transfer a 5.45 GB Blu-ray rip from the computer, whereas the Kingston requires a yawn-inducing 10.5 minutes (8.5 MB/s). That's not even the worst part. The Kingston ships with the default FAT32 file system. You can format it to NTFS, which renders it practically useless since it's no longer detected by its iOS app. In effect, you cannot transfer high-bitrate Blu-ray rips to the Wi-Drive.

The Wi-Drive's read speeds are equally dismal when compared to the Satellite. The former wheezes at an average read rate of 17.6 MB/s on the HD Tune benchmark, while the latter manages a healthy 33.2 MB/s. Here's the shocker - all the figures quoted for the Seagate have been benchmarked in the USB 2.0 mode. Using the GoFlex Satellite's USB 3.0 mode will result in an even greater speed difference. Whether or not your PC is USB 3.0 capable, the Seagate will make mincemeat out of the the Kingston.

Going by its dismal performance, the Wi-Drive seems to be a glorified USB flash drive. Its performance while streaming videos over the Wi-Fi connection is more or less on par with the Seagate. However, in the tests, high bitrate video content would bleed the Wi-Drive's buffer dry intermittently when the iPod was placed at the other end of the room. The GoFlex Satellite, on the other hand, soldiered on without any drama. Fortunately, both drives can concurrently handle multiple devices without a sweat. In all other aspects though, the Seagate easily outperforms the Kingston in this round.

Seagate GoFlex Satellite wins!
Score: Seagate GoFlex Satellite 4, Kingston Wi-Drive 4.


Portable Media Server Grudge Match!

The Wi-Drive App.

Round 8: Value For Money
Lets do the math based on the MRP: for Rs 1500 more, the Seagate GoFlex Satellite offers a whopping 484 GB of extra storage space, blazing fast transfer speeds, and stable streaming of high bitrate content. That's not a bad deal, if you ask me.

However, when you look at the street price, the Kingston Wi-Drive is available through an eBay.in import for a incredulously low price of Rs 5400, inclusive of shipping. Even if you incur a 25% import duty, it still works out much cheaper than the Seagate. Considering this deal, the Kingston easily offers more value. However, such offers are time-bound and may not remain valid for too long. Going by the actual street price in India then, the Seagate offers relatively better value.

Seagate GoFlex Satellite wins!
Score: Seagate GoFlex Satellite 5, Kingston Wi-Drive 4.


Portable Media Server Grudge Match!

The GoFlex Media App.

The Winner: Seagate GoFlex Satellite
The scores reveal that this has been a close contest despite the Seagate considerably outperforming the Kingston in the performance stakes. While the GoFlex Satellite seems to be a better alternative, the Wi-Drive is still relevant for those concerned more about portability than performance or storage. This sounds quite absurd, to be honest, but I say this because the average Apple user upholds form over function. However, for the sensible ones among us, the Seagate GoFlex Satellite is a saner alternative.

Seagate GoFlex Satellite
Performance: 4.5/5
Design And Build Quality: 3.5/5
Features: 4/5
Value: 3.5/5
Mojo: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4/5

Kingston Wi-Drive
Performance: 1.5/5
Design And Build Quality: 4.5/5
Features: 2.5/5
Value: 3/5
Mojo: 2/5
Overall Rating: 3/5

Tags : Storage, Networking, Seagate, Kingston, Nachiket