Seagate GoFlex Satellite Wireless Portable Hard Drive – 500GB. Photo: AFP
A new range of mobile wireless hard drives are providing a real alternative to streaming mobile content from the cloud, meaning that wherever you are, you always have access to all of your content, even without an interent connection.
For those of us who aren't quite ready to move everything over to the cloud or who haven't got an unlimited data plan or even a 4G or 3G connection on their device, there are plenty of other options available for increasing the capacity of a smartphone, tablet or ultrabook without breaking the bank or reducing mobility.
Seagate GoFlex Satellite Wireless Portable Hard Drive - 500GB: $175.95
With enough space for even the biggest music and video collections, the Seagate can just about be slipped into a pocket (as long as that pocket measures 120x90x22mm) or dropped in a bag. As well as connecting via wi-fi, the device has a USB 3.0 port for high-speed wired transfer and can stream three movies to three separate devices simultaneously, great if you've got kids, tablets and a long car or train journey to look forward to. Compatible with any device that has a web browser, it also comes with iOS and Android apps and can support up to 5 hours of constant, heavy use between charges.
Transcend 64GB Storejet Cloud Wireless Portable Hard Drive: $189.99
Boasting wi-fi and USB 2.0 connectivity, the Transcend can stream content to up to five separate devices simultaneously. Compatible with Windows, Mac OX, Android and iOS, it measures 99x54x16.5mm and weighs 90g. With 64GB of flash memory it offers smoother playback (up to six hours between charges) and less buffering and stands a better chance of surviving a fall. But flash memory is still more expensive than a standard spinning hard drive, hence the price premium.
Maxell AirStash Expandable Capacity Wireless Flash Drive 16GB starter pack: $179.99
The same size as a typical flash drive, this little wonder from Maxell really can be slipped into a trouser pocket, yet it can stream 16GB of content wirelessly to your portable device. What makes it even more intelligent is that it comes with an SD expansion, slot meaning that as well as its native capacity, you can carry even more content on other SD cards. Designed specifically for use with iPads, iPhones and Kindles. One charge supports five hours of streaming.
And while each device costs more than $100, considering the average US mobile phone bill with data plan is $115 a month, each could save its users considerable expense in the long term.