SPREADING THE WIRELESS FUN

Instead of fighting over the family iPad on long car trips and plane rides, three people can watch their own movie or TV show on their own tablet, computer or phone, all streamed from a little Seagate box that can hold 300 high definition movies.

We are sort of fascinated by this. The box is called the “GoFlex Satellite,” and it has 500 gigabytes of storage and its own wireless transmitter. It works like magic: The range is about 150 feet. So the kids can be in the back row of the plane, watching  movies on their own devices, while Mom and Dad are in first class, beaming the video from the wallet-sized GoFlex in Mom’s purse. And more than just by the way, the gadget requires no Internet connection.

Storing movies on the drive is a snap. Use drag and drop for folders or files, or use the free “Media Sync” software that you can download from Seagate.com. With Media Sync, all photos, documents, and videos move over to the drive in seconds automatically. (It felt instantaneous to us.) Unplug the GoFlex drive and fire away; it will beam your stuff to any iPad, smartphone, Android tablet or computer tuned to the GoFlex network.

Tuning to the GoFlex network means going into the WiFi settings of your tablet, computer or phone and selecting it from a list. Next, open a browser (Safari, Firefox, Google, Internet Explorer or whatever) and you’ll immediately be routed to a GoFlex web address with a list of your movies, music, photos and documents neatly arranged in folders.

Working example: Joy wanted to watch a video taken by her brother, but the movie wasn’t in the right format for the iPad. So she used a free program, “Freemake Video Converter,” from Freemake.com, to convert it. She dragged the icon for the movie onto a picture of an apple and that made it iPad-compatible.

The GoFlex Satellite first came out a year ago, but it’s recently received a nice software update. The battery life is now seven hours instead of five, and it has 25 hours on standby. (It comes with a car charger and wall adapter.) Before the update, you couldn’t use the Internet and watch a movie simultaneously. Now you can switch from your movie to your email or Web, if another WiFi signal is present. Up to eight people can access music, photos and documents from the GoFlex at the same time, but you’re still limited to three movie watchers at one time; they can all watch the same or different movies.

The GoFlex drive comes with several free movies from the Discover Channel and the “Peach Open Studio Project.” We recommend “Big Buck Bunny.” It works with PCs or Macs, but the Mac has to be running a Windows emulator.  List price is $200 at Seagate.com.

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