Review: G-Connect wireless storage for iPad

The scoop: G-Connect wireless storage for iPad, by G-Technology by Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, about $168 (Amazon).

What is it? Similar to Seagate's GoFlex Satellite device, the G-Connect is an external hard drive (500GB capacity) that also includes a Wi-Fi connection. The idea is that instead of putting your multimedia content (photos, movies, music) on the iPad or iPhone (which has relatively limited storage space), you store it onto the G-Connect, and then stream the content to the device via its wireless link.

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This also means multiple devices can access content stored on the device -- again, easier than hard-loading everything onto the individual client device. A special iOS app for iPhones and iPads can access the drive quite easily, or you can use a browser and connect through a special website (gtech-connect.com).

Why it's cool: The unit's Wi-Fi connection also provides Internet pass-through functionality for client devices connected to the G-Connect. This means that if you're streaming content on the iPad or iPhone and then need to use the browser or other app to check something on the Internet, you don't have to switch back to your original wireless SSID.

You can decide the portability of the unit. If you want to keep the G-Connect within the home, it has an Ethernet port for connecting to a router, switch or powerline adapter -- this lets you create your own network-attached storage (NAS) box. While the device is powered by an included AC adapter, G-Technology says it can also be powered by an external USB battery (such as those you'd use to power an iPhone or battery), or a cigarette adapter charger (the same kind that recharges smartphones).

In addition to smartphones and tablets, other devices that support the DLNA standard can stream content from the G-Connect. With my Xbox 360, I was quickly able to stream some content (save for one movie file that appeared to have a format conflict) from the G-Connect to my TV. The drive also has excellent iTunes support and sharing, so you can open that app and instantly stream content via iTunes or AirPlay devices.

Some caveats: The hardest part is getting your content on the device -- it's best to connect directly to the drive via USB cable rather than trying to copy content via the wireless connection (even if the device is attached to the network via Ethernet, it's easier to directly load via USB). As a nice-to-have request, it would be interesting to see G-Technology add cloud-based access to the G-Connect, so you could be away from your home network (at work, on the road) and still able to access the content.

Grade: 4.5 stars (out of five).

Shaw can be reached at kshaw@nww.com. Follow him on Twitter: @shawkeith.

Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.

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