Seagate FreeAgent Pro review

£113
Price when reviewed

Several manufacturers this month have sought to distinguish their products through design. None, however, has gone so far as Seagate to challenge our expectations of an external hard disk.

The FreeAgent Pro is brown, with a glowing orange stripe down the middle. And if you think that’s bold, consider the unit’s physical shape: the FreeAgent Pro resembles a sinuous monolith balancing precariously on a too-small podium.

In reality, of course, the drive is fixed to its base. This means it won’t fall off, but it also means you can’t lie the unit down. That’s annoying, because although the FreeAgent Pro is far from unstable, it’s still all too easy to carelessly knock it over. The connection between the drive and the base is a structural weak point, too: we’ve seen one of these drives snap apart in the past.

The FreeAgent’s only user control is a touch-sensitive on/off button. This didn’t consistently respond to our touches, and the lack of physical feedback didn’t help. Disk activity is indicated by a slow pulsing at the front of the unit, which is easy to miss and conveys minimal information. Brief operations aren’t indicated at all.

The FreeAgent Pro does support eSATA, although it lagged unexpectedly in the read phase of our multiple files test. And, uniquely, you can pop the USB/eSATA controller module out and replace it with a FireWire module instead, although we don’t recommend that.

It’s a reasonable price for its size, but in the end we found the wilfully unconventional FreeAgent Pro an irritation to use and to look at.

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