The market for external hard drives has ballooned in the last few years with every man and his dog now realising that having all your files on an easy to use portable device is rather convenient. To meet this demand there have been several innovations that try to persuade the potential buyer into going for a particular model. Larger capacities, more connectivity options, faster drives, or funky styling, it's all been tried. However, one fundamental remains. Even though external hard drives are relatively convenient, you still have to carry them around. Wouldn't it be brilliant if we could just turn on any computer and be able to access our files? Well, hang on a minute, what do we have here?...
Not ones to rest on their laurels the chaps at Seagate have seen this 'fundamental flaw' in the external hard drive market and come up with a solution that gives you the best of both worlds. The FreeAgent Pro is Seagate's latest 3.5in external hard drive. It features a very elegant chassis and best of all, enables you to upload your files onto your own storage space on the Internet. Before I go into the details of how this all works, though, I'll talk you through the FreeAgent Pro's hardware.
If someone had told me that Seagate's new colour scheme for their portable storage solutions would be black and orange, I would have laughed them out of town. Orange!? Seriously? Well, how silly I would have looked, because the FreeAgent is one stunning piece of kit. Two rotationally symmetrical slabs of black anodised brushed aluminium encase a strip of orange plastic that, when not illuminated, looks black and unassuming but, when lit up, emits a bright orange glow that somehow looks brilliant. This design is reflected in the unit's stand which, though not illuminated, is elegant and understated and features that ultimate of design toys - the touch switch - for a power button.
When you turn the drive on the orange light gradually lights up in a manner not unlike a pulsating deep sea creature. The effect was so mesmerising it proved sufficient entertainment for the office to keep us occupied for hours - ok a couple of minutes, maybe. If you are a complete philistine you can turn the lights of using the included software.
On the back of the stand are the connections for power and data. The data connections are, rather ingeniously, housed on removable modules that fit into the bottom of the stand. They're secured by a single screw, which can easily be undone with a coin or screwdriver, and can be swapped out for different data connections. As standard the FreeAgent Pro comes with a USB and eSATA module fitted but you can also get a second module that features two Firewire 400 connectors. Of course, being separate modules means you have more bits to lose but to have the option there is good.
Available in either 320GB, 500GB, or 750GB versions and with the choice of having both connection modules or just the USB and eSATA one (for some reason you can't choose just the FireWire module), the FreeAgent Pro provides enough options to cater for most people's budgets and storage requirements. The version we received for review was the top of the range that packs in '750 Glorious Gigabytes' and includes both connection modules.