It’s not only the player that’s had an overhaul,as the FreeAgent GoFlex TV’s remote is also completely altered. It’s less stylish than the slim, grey-and-black affair found with the original FreeAgent Theater, but more usable. It also lies better in the hand due to its bulkier, rounder shape, while its buttons are bigger, distinctly shaped, well-spaced and offer excellent feedback. They’re also logically colour-coded, though obviously that won’t help much in a dark room. Its matt finish is durable and it uses twin AAA batteries.
Getting back to the device, as mentioned it can take a 2.5in hard drive. Many players – such as the A.C.Ryan Playon!HD and Iomega ScreenPlay Director HD – allow you to install big, bulky 3.5in drives, but very few let you install the quieter and less power hungry ‘laptop’ drives. With SSDs steadily coming down in price, you could even use one of these as local storage to maintain a silent media player. Access is also very simple, as a push-in drive bay is hidden behind a solid, hinged flap at the player’s front.
However, there are a number of caveats. Primarily, Seagate has designed the GoFlex TV specifically to be used with its own GoFlex Ultra-Portable drives, and they’re the only ones that will fit perfectly in the provided slot. Thankfully, the connectors aren’t proprietary like with the Emtec Movie Cube P800, so you can actually install any bare 2.5in drive, although if you don’t want the drive ‘floating’ (supported only by its connectors) you’ll need to use a third-party adapter or add DIY support (like some Blu-Tack or a felt pad).
Also, whether you use a Seagate drive or another brand, the drive will stick out by quite a bit, and the effect isn’t pretty.
Things take a more positive turn with format support, which is one of the FreeAgent GoFlex TV’s greatest strengths. It’s compatible with:
”’Video”’ – MKV, AVI, DivX/Xvid HD, RMVB, WMV9, VC-1, MPEG-1/2(VOB/ISO)/4, FLV, AVC HD, TS/TP/M2T/M2TS, H.264 and MOV.
”’Subtitle”’ – SAMI (smi), SRT and SUB.
”’Picture”’ – (M)JPEG, GIF, TIF/TIFF, BMP and PNG.
”’Audio”’ – WMA/Pro, Dolby Digital, ADPCM, FLAC, AAC, ASF, DTS, LPCM, OGG, WAV and MP3.
It’s also very versatile in the file systems it supports, which include FAT/32, NTFS and even HFS+. So you can format your storage in any way you wish, safe in the knowledge that the GoFlex TV will be able to read it. Like all the better players out there, it indexes files too, so you can browse by location or media type. We only encountered one issue, with a high-bitrate 1080p MKV video which the player couldn’t quite handle displaying an alarming amount of artefacts.
Its video flexibility gives Seagate’s player an immediate edge over Western Digital’s WDTV Live HD and even the rival company’s newer and far more expensive WDTV Live Hub, neither of which support RMVB or FLV. It’s nearly on par with the excellent little A.C.Ryan Playon!HD Mini, though the Dutch media player still wins out in audio and subtitle support.