Leaving the Cloud for my own Private Island

I spent the last two years fully-embracing the cloud. And why not? Cloud computing offers many wonderful features. Google’s suite of apps create a seamless user experience from one personal device to another. Sites like Discogs.com empower users to access and share their record catalogs everywhere they go. Goodreads.com networks book-lovers from all around the world and democratized the used book market by facilitating the search and purchase of titles. It created a market where even the tiniest, tucked-away bookshops could compete directly with bookselling giants like Barnes & Noble.

I use Google Docs for drafts of articles I’m writing and really enjoy the flexibility of calling them up on my phone, tablet, or my media workstation throughout my day. And I’ve absolutely lived on Google Calendar for many years now.

Cloud-based archival storage services offer users data redundancy and reliable sync-and-forget-it backup systems with a 99.9% recovery rate – far more reliable that entrusting all your precious data to a single external disk.

But recently, I’ve been rethinking the cloud, particularly about the amount of control and privacy a user relinquishes when their content is no longer stored locally. iTunes was the worst atrocity to come of the cloud, as many users are starting to understand. The DRM fiasco crippled the usability of the software, and as users learned from the U2 incident, their music libraries were really at the mercy of Apple.  Spotify and streaming services are not much better, with drastically-limited media selections and, again, the content is never really yours.

iPod DRM

The entire era of cloud-computing was less about empowering the user and more of an exercise is usury. Let’s face it – storage has become incredibly inexpensive. And the popularity of lossy-compression for casual listening has only made it easier and cheaper for users to have it all. There was no longer a need to up-sell a customer base to a bigger and better device every six months, because the average smartphone suits most users just fine as an all-around media player.

For those with more discerning tastes, a simple and inexpensive home server is sufficient to grant instant-access to terabytes of lossless audio and HD video libraries from our tablets and phones anywhere with 4G service.

The industry had to invent a new way to maintain a steady influx of customer revenue. Enter the streaming service and world of online backups. These subscription-based services keep the customer paying month after month for storage and instant-access. Adobe was perhaps the most curious company to go this route, releasing the latest version of its software suite rebranded as the Creative Cloud. The customer scenario was much the same for Adobe – previous versions were everything their customers needed, so why would they need to upgrade ever again? The solution was clear – monthly subscription fees.

Adobe-survey-CC-pricingCNET Adobe CC Pricing Survey (2012)

The elephant in the room of cloud computing is the compromise of one’s privacy and security. Facebook users know all too well that every minute detail of their publicly-broadcasted lives is being sold and re-sold to advertisers banking on hyper-targeted marketing.

But you know all this – you don’t buy in to cloud archive services. You’ve implemented all the standard privacy tools and ad-blocking plugins and your web experience is fairly secure and advert-free. But what about those who don’t have the luxury of their own media server or truly unlimited data plans for their portable devices? How should they freely access their large libraries of media anywhere they go?

There is a solution. Seagate manufactures a device specifically tailored to meet the needs of this particular niche of customers and to resolve their unique problem. The Wireless Plus 2TB portable HDD (STCV2000100) is surprisingly compact and lightweight. It features an internal 10-hour battery and its own personal WiFi network. Pair it with each of your personal devices and you’ve got 2TB of content with you EVERYWHERE – on or off the grid, with no monthly fees.

Seagate Wireless Plus 1

Currently priced at ~$190, the Wireless Plus offers an incredible amount of freedom for its price point. For users like myself with our own media servers, there really isn’t an urgent need, (save perhaps for taking your entire library with you on a camping trip.) But for those tired of shelling out monthly fees for remotely hosted content – this is the device you’ve been waiting for.

Seagate Wireless Plus 2

The Personal, Portable Media Cloud

Recently, a new tech product has surfaced on the market – one that solves a very specific problem for a particular niche of media consumers.

There exists a digital media user base with larger-than-usual libraries. I’m speaking of anyone with multiple TB of media, whether it be audio, cinema and TV archives, CBR collections, ePub libraries, or any combination thereof.

Naturally for collections of this size, these consumers have a great passion for their media, and desire full-accessibility to their content at all times.

A percentage of these users have created a solution by holding-fast to their grandfathered-in unlimited cellular data plans, and use one of various dedicated home servers to make their data instantly accessible on any web-enabled device without any fear of data caps or throttling. (I am among these users.)

There remains however, a less-fortunate base of media consumers who don’t have the luxury of unlimited data or a dedicated server, (Subsonic or otherwise) to grant them the freedom they desire.

Which brings us to the solution of the personal, portable media cloud.

Seagate now manufactures a surprisingly small Wireless Plus Portable Hard Drive with its own built-in WiFi network and a 10 hr internal battery.

This device acts as your own personal (and portable) wireless network – on the road or off the grid, your media is always accessible, wirelessly to any device.

It is robust enough to stream up to 3 different HD movies to 3 different devices at the same time.

Use the Seagate Media App on any of your devices, or the codec-ready application of your choice. The Seagate Media App also works as a sync tool to backup your devices’ files to your portable HDD.

The 1.5 TB model is $155 and the 2TB edition is $197 – a small price to pay for the freedom it will bring. This product solves a very particular problem for a very small niche of users, but for those users it is exactly what they’ve been looking for.


Published in: on May 2, 2015 at 7:56 am  Leave a Comment  
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