Seagate has unveiled a new line of external storage units that promises consumers more flexibility should their requirements change. Dubbed Freeagent GoFlex
, they are all plug-and-play devices with interchangeable cables and desktop adapters that allow each drive to adapt to the interface being used (USB, FireWire, eSATA). The idea is that this system not only future-proofs the hard drive, but also allows it to be used on nearly any computer platform.
You can update these portable drives just by swapping out the cable adapter, so a USB 2.0 drive can be upgraded to USB 3.0, eSATA, and FireWire 400/800 connections, or with a cable that can turn the drive into an automatic backup system. Moreover, Seagate is adding a NTFS driver for Mac OS X that will let users store and access files from both Windows and Mac OS X systems.
Prices for desktop GoFlex drives with a USB 2.0 cable and encrypted backup are about $120 for 1TB and $200 for 2TB. A standard ultraportable model ranges from $100 for a 320GB version up to $200 for a terabyte, while the GoFlex Pro ultraportable spins at a faster 7,200 RPM, includes backup with encryption capabilities, and is priced at $130 for 500GB, and $180 for 750GB. The flexibility will come at an extra cost, though, and it's also the drive's biggest flaw.
The GoFlex system relies on proprietary cables, and you'll have to pay anywhere from $20 to $50 for each interface connector. This means that not only you'll have to shell out extra cash if one of these cables is lost or damaged, but you're also relying on Seagate supporting the system for years to come.