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Wi-Fi hard drive showdown: Corsair Voyager vs. Seagate Wireless Plus

Jon L. Jacobi | April 15, 2013
A new class of portable hard drive creates its own Wi-Fi hotspot, so you can stream media or transfer files from a PC, notebook, tablet, or smartphone without a cable. Which one's best?

In my hands-on testing, the Voyager Air's battery lasted for just over five hours while streaming a high-bit rate movie. An LED indicator glows orange when the battery level drops below 50 percent and red when less than five percent is left. There's no harm in draining the battery dead while you're streaming or reading files, but you should pay attention to that red light if you're saving a file to the drive.

The Voyager Plus ships with a carrying bag, a standard USB 3.0 cable, a USB-to-power cable, a USB wall charger, and even a 12-volt auto adapter. You can power off the Wi-Fi function to preserve battery life, and plugging into a USB port will do so automatically (attaching the unit via ethernet will not).

The Voyager Air has great promise, and I know a number of IT types that will find the onboard ethernet very handy. When Corsair adds the Web portal and DLNA compliance, it'll be a pip.

Seagate Wireless Plus 

Seagate's Wireless Plus is a more polished product than Corsair's Voyager Air, despite the absence of hardwired ethernet connectivity. It provides two features that are even more important: a Web portal and DLNA compliance.

Seagate's drive also features a more elegant industrial design with just a single Power button on its case. The Wi-Fi hotspot is always on unless the drive is connected to a computer's USB port. The presence of a DLNA-compliant media server means you can use your client's own application (e.g., Windows Media Player) to stream digital photos, video, and music from the drive. Seagate can also provide free apps for the iOS and Android smartphones and tablets as well as Amazon's Kindle Fire.


Seagate's Wireless Plus lacks an ethernet port, but it has two software features that Corsair's Voyager Air lacks.

The Wireless Plus features Seagate's USM (Universal Storage Module) technology, which means the hard drive has a recessed SATA connector that can be mated to a variety of interface adapters. Seagate includes a USB 3.0 USM adapter, a USB 3.0 cable, a USB wall adapter, and a USB-to-DC power cable with the Wireless Plus.

Seagate's drive wasn't quite as fast as Corsair's: Connected via its USB 3.0 interface, the drive wrote our 10GB mix of files and folders at 93 MBps and read them at 208.3 MBps. With a single large 10GB file, write and read speeds jumped to 106.4MBps and 247.1MBps respectively. Streaming multimedia via Wi-Fi was smooth, right up until about 2 MBps. That's fast enough to stream just about any file outside an uncompressed Blu-ray rip.

 

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