Remember Pogoplug? That brilliant little gadget that networks any USB hard drive and makes it internet accessible in practically zero steps? We’re not the only ones who thought it was an especially good idea, and Seagate has licensed the technology and incorporated it into a dock for portable hard drives. The Seagate FreeAgent DockStar is essentially a Pogoplug in a different case, offering the same networked and internetted (?) functionality plus some extra USB ports and a special dock for Seagate FreeAgent hard drives… In a nutshell, this technology lets you seamlessly access any and all USB drive(s) you plug into it over your home network and the internet, and even from your iPhone.

At $99, the Seagate FreeAgent DockStar seems like an obvious choice over a $99 Pogoplug, except that the Seagate version apparently comes with a $30 subscription fee after the first year, whereas purchasing a Pogoplug includes lifetime online access to your files. So, if you were just born and you live to be 150 years old, that’s like $4,500 in access fees. I’m not sure whether this implies that Seagate (as opposed to Pogoplug) is taking care of the actual internet service part of things themselves, but either way, I really really hate subscription fees for hardware.

Pogoplug makes a point of saying that they’re just licensing their technology, and they’ve still got all kinds of exciting things planned… Seagate is being welcomed into the Pogoplug family as opposed to vice versa. To that end, today Pogoplug is announcing a bunch of new social networking features for their online drive interface, which makes it easy to share files and folders on sites like Facebook and Twitter. Basically, the service lets you share content from your hard drive via a web link that users can click on to access your drive directly. A variety of privacy options should keep the rest of your stuff safe, and it’s certainly way faster than uploading (and conveniently bypasses any kind of space limitations), but the whole concept still makes me vaguely uncomfortable. Like, I don’t want those dirty Facebook/MySpace people accessing my drives! …Even if they are all (hypothetically) my friends.

Incidentally, we’ve been sent a Pogoplug for review, so we’ll have a write-up for you (including another look at those social networking features) in the next few weeks.

[ Seagate FreeAgent ]
[ Seagate DockStar ]
[ Pogoplug ]