We have looked at Seagate's FreeAgent Go series a few times in the past and were very impressed with the Free Agent Go Dock that goes along with them. You wouldn't think Seagate would be able to improve on a simple dock too much but surprisingly they did. With the new Dockstar, they included an Ethernet port to help share your files over your network and over the Internet. What kind of difference can one lowly ethernet port make? Read more to find out.
Product Name: Seagate FreeAgent Dockstar
Review Sample Provided by: Seagate
Review by: Wes
Pictures by: Wes
3.39 in L x 3.35 in W x 1.50 in D
(86.00 L x 85.00 W x 38.21 D mm)
Weight: 1.11 lbs (0.50 kg)
7.00 in L x 5.25 in W x 2.25 in H
(177.80 L x 133.35 W x 57.15 H mm)
1.08 lbs. (0.49 kg)
Inside the Box
Surprisingly the DockStar's packaging wasn't similar to the FreeAgent Go Dock that we looked at before. The original dock had a clear plastic package that showed off the dock itself. The DockStar on the other hand is packed in a cardboard box without any view or pictures of the dock. The front has an odd alien design along with the DockStar logo. On the back, you will find more specifics about setting up the DockStar along with a few of the features. Inside the package, you will find a power brick, a long Ethernet cord, the dock itself, and an instruction manual.
Hooking up the DockStar is fairly simple, all you have to do is plug the power cord in and then hook the Ethernet into both the dock and your router. I used the 500 gig BlackArmor portable drive that I reviewed a few months ago to test out the dock. With everything hooked up and ready to go I was surprised that I didn’t see anything showing on the network. After finally reading the instructions, I learned that you must first register your dock online before you can access any of the features. The most interesting part is trying to get the Serial number without unplugging the DockStar, it will not let you submit the s/n without it being plugged in. Beyond the serial number, you will also need to give them username, password, and email address to finish setting up your pogoplug account.
The DockStar is more than just a way to share your files over your home network, when paired with pogoplug you can also access your files from anywhere, even on your iPhone. Of course, I started by trying to access the hard drive over my network, I had trouble with this at first. I had to log into my pogoplug account and turn network sharing on and set my workgroup before I had any luck. With everything setup properly I found the network performance to be a little sluggish compared to accessing files on the LanOC file server. Of course, you have to remember that the DockStar is limited to the FreeAgent go's USB 2.0 interface, considerably slower than the 15k Cheetah Drives in our server.
On the pogoplug side of things it was weird to have access to my files anywhere I needed them. The online access was a little strange to me, but Pogoplug does provide software to create a virtual drive on your laptop. With their software installed, it was almost like being on my home network. Over the Internet performance was completely dependent on both my home Internet connection and connection wherever I'm trying to access from. I wouldn't expect to be able to download all of your files at any time, but if you need to share access to important files this is a good solution.
So the DockStar is a normal FreeAgent dock on steroids. Not only does it share your files over your home network, using Pogoplug you can access your files from anywhere. The downside is from what I can tell on the website, after the first year you are going to need to renew your Pogoplug subscription at an unknown cost. Of course the DockStar has a few interesting features. Not only can you access your FreeAgent Go from your network and over the Internet, you also have the ability to plug in up too three more USB hard drives to expand your shared file capabilities without having to buy any more Pogoplug capable devices. Overall, the DockStar is a solution for someone looking for the freedom to access their files anywhere while avoiding the downsides of fulltime online file storage.