Looking for a versatile media player that can handle music, photos, and streaming videos from your home network and the Internet? The Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex TV HD Media Player is one of the best in a growing field of attractive candidates. Like the other media players we have reviewed so far, the FreeAgent GoFlex TV is a connected box that lets you play multimedia files from computers, media servers, network storage devices, and from USB hard drives (or pendrives) plugged directly into the device (you can also insert a portable GoFlex hard-drive module directly into the Seagate GoFlex TV HD Media Player, which eliminates extra clutter). The GoFlex TV supports a number of Internet services, including Flickr, Netflix on demand, Picasa, YouTube, a slew of popular sites through MediaFly, and other sites via category widgets (such as Finance).
The GoFlex TV supports a wide range of DRM-free media formats.
Setting up the unit took only a few moments - Seagate deserves high marks for the unit's simplicity. For our tests, we hooked it up to an HDTV with an HDMI cable, and brought it into our network using the included Ethernet cable. After switching it on for the first time, no further action was required beyond setting language and date/time. Within a minute or so, the home screen popped up. We were immediately able to browse both, the home network and the Internet services using the unit's remote. This media player had a remote control, which was slightly larger than remotes of other comparable device, but is still smaller than a typical TV or cable remote. The GoFlex TV HD supports component, composite, and HDMI ports to output video.
Navigation is fairly simple. The home screen provided access to media in several ways, including some that are deliberately redundant. At the top is a row of options for media types (Music, Photos, Video). Then there was a row of shortcuts to the Internet services. Lastly, there was a row of icons for navigating all directly connected and local-network devices--be they USB flash drives, GoFlex drives plugged into the GoFlex TV, networked PCs, or media servers (DLNA or Samba shares).
However, playing or viewing material, especially over a local network, can be slow. Sometimes files took quite a few moments to appear (Seagate said this is because the device is building an index). Also, the Seagate GoFlex TV doesn't support file operations. You cannot copy files from a network location to a local drive, a feature that can be useful if streaming over the network is jerky and you don't want to have to use a PC to transfer media to a local drive. In the tests, some media file-types inexplicably failed to play at all, with some MP3 files being dismissed as an invalid format (may be because of the higher or variable bitrate). Since our display output device supported 1080p, we checked if lower resolution movies get scaled up to 1080p satisfactorily, and they did, although native 1080p videos would still have the edge in terms of greater detail and cut out the need for pixel mapping.
Though the home screen made it easy to dig up content, it was disappointing to notice that settings for a lot of features (such as network settings, playback adjustments, like slideshow options) became accessible only upon clicking the menu button on the remote. Yes, Seagate intention of reducing screen clutter is noble, but this arrangement makes these features less discoverable. For people who own a GoFlex drive, Seagate provides Media Sync software that makes it easy to transfer and update the contents of a PC or Mac media library to the drive. Naturally, you have to connect the drive to the computer to perform updates, it cannot be done when the drive is connected to the GoFlex TV.
The GoFlex TV supports a wide range of DRM-free media formats, like all other full-fledged media players except for the Amkette Flash TV. For the full list of supported formats, take a look at the “Specifications” tab of this review. You can log in to your YouTube account to view (and designate) favourites, you can search for photos on Flickr (but you can't log in to your account to easily view your own), and so on. The only niggle is that (again, like other media players) the GoFlex TV does not have Wi-Fi support built-in. You can get that functionality with an optional USB adapter (priced around Rs. 3,000). The interface could have been better, especially for accessing settings. Overall, the Seagate GoFlex TV is a decent product, with easy setup and a large selection of Internet content as major pluses. The Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex TV HD Media Player has a warranty period of one year.
Seagate’s affordably priced full-fledged media player is quite a handful with its support for photos, audio, video, and even content streamed from the Internet or from other networked devices at home. Seagate has delivered a full-featured media player at an affordable price, we just wish at least one of the media player vendors would start shipping their product with a built-in Wi-Fi adapter.