July 9, 2008
Last year we here at NetworkingAudioVideo did a review on the Drobo Home NAS Server from Data Robotics. The Drobo is a device that is designed as a backup device with some hard-core features like multiple drive support. During our review we mentioned the lack of a network connection which puzzled us. Well the newest version, the Drobo 2.0 is still lacking a network connection but it does come with two Firewire 800 ports which is definitely a step-up.
It's good news but at $500 we still want to see a network connection.
Drobo Product Page: Drobo.com
Drobo USB (Original Version) at Amazon.com
April 4, 2008
We love the clean lines and decent price for this desktop storage unit from LaCie. Sure - it's not networkable, but it has the ability to hang off your Airport Extreme as a USB air disk or network backup using Time Machine. It comes in both a 500 gb and 320 gb model. Get the 500 and don't look back.
Via acquire at LaCie Desktop Hard Disk 301285U 500 GB USB 2.0 External Hard Drive
January 23, 2008
For those wanting a secure way to save all their files and at the same time have a fully robust media server look no further then the QNAP TS-409. This four bay RAID NAS server has all the great qualities that would expect out of a QNAP product. With 4 hard drive bays you can chose from just about any RAID format you want or just go with a JBOD and have one massive disk. This system is a great solution for those wanting to secure their data while at the same time looking for a low power, low noise server for hosting all of their media.
We complain all the time that requiring a PC to be running in order to stream your media is just wrong. We love that there are more and more embedded devices that are coming out that are bundling media streaming software. The TS-409 comes with TwonkyMedia
, which is basically the de facto media streaming server out there. The 409 also bundles an iTunes Server as well so no matter what your needs are you are basically covered with this storage unit. Years ago storage units were just storage units. These days companies realize they need to offer more to the consumer to attract them.
We have played with the TS-209 which is their 2 bay offering and we can tell you first hand that it is an amazing product. It couldn't be more simple to set it up and within minutes of turning it on you not only have a secure way to backup your data, but you have a very robust media server. The 409 will stream to just about any device capable of dealing with UPnP including the PS3, Xbox 360, PSP, and the Nokia N95. We're sure there will be more added to this list in time.
If you don't have a good system for backing up your data and/or you need a quiet, low power, secure way to stream your media look no further, you just have seen the holy grail of storage solutions.
January 15, 2008
We had reviewed the Drobo NAS device
awhile ago and found that while it was a pretty cool device, the fact that there was no network hookup was very disappointing. Well now they have released the Drobo Share
, a base unit for your Drobo that will allow it to become a true NAS server. This base unit plugs into any existing Drobo unit and will add the ability to plug a network cable in and share it to anyone on your network. One of the cool things that this offers is that you can switch between using it as network attached storage and directly connecting it to your computer via USB. No extra steps are required, just unplug the ethernet cable and plug it into your computer via USB and it will adjust.
While the DroboShare is only $199 the actual Drobo unit itself is $499 without discs so this isn't a cheap solution, but the system truly makes backing up your data and keeping it safe about as simple as you can imagine. There are countless people on the web saying how amazing these devices are and if we hadn't already plunked down a bunch of cash on our existing backup strategy we would surely be picking this unit up. Check after the break for the full press release.
Continue reading: "Drobo Share: Finally Network Connectivity for the Drobo"
November 25, 2007
We are always preaching here about the importance of a good backup strategy for your media files. More times then we care to count we have lost files because of a drive that failed. In the end we went overboard and created a large RAID 5 storage system that will keep all of our data safe even with drive failure. Well, it seems that as much as we tell people that they should buy storage to back their files up they don't want to listen. A bunch of people we know over the past year have lost a lot of very important files because of a drive that failed. Even the simple act of buying an external USB drive
can save you in case of a crash.
Well to hammer home the point a little further we would like to point you at a real world example of what can happen if you don't take a lot of care with your data. Baratunde Thurston writes an excellent blog over at baratunde.com
and he has a very sad article
about what happened to him one day when his hard drive crashed. If you think you've lost something important go check out his article and you will learn about how devastating it can be to lose your data. Losing some MP3s or some photos is one thing, but losing the last recording of your dead mothers voice puts it on a whole new level.
So once again, please, go out and buy an external hard drive
and make sure you protect the files that are important to you.
October 18, 2007
We are constantly on the look out for the coolest devices to stream media around the house. They are typically proprietary devices from the likes of MvixUSA
and they are closed systems. Well as much as we like these systems( and own a few ) our hearts are with the open systems. Devices that use software that can be modified by the user, have additions developed for it and basically be totally customizable. We have reviewed MythTV
in the past and as much as we love it it usually tends to be a complete pain in the ass to setup. Other companies
have released pre-configured MythTV boxes, but nothing like this.
Well the good people over at Fiire
have released what could be our dream media streaming device. They have taken Linux MCE( basically a souped up version MythTV ) and put it into a very quiet and attractive case to make a great media streaming system for even the most discerning of media geeks. One of the biggest issues to consider when putting a media streaming computer in your entertainment center is noise. We won't go into all the features of Linux MCE, just check out their site here
and a good video of the system in operation here
, but needless to say it is cooler then you could imagine. The fact that someone has bundled this all together in a pretty sweet package brings a large smile to our face. They have a bunch of offerings from the main beefy server you could keep in the basement while you use one of their smaller offerings to be the client that you keep in the media cabinet. They even have a product that attaches right to the back of your LCD TV so there are no cable lying around and no ugly devices sitting around.
These products don't come cheap, but they do offer you something that very few products do, the ability to configure the software completely. If you were so inclined you could modify the code yourself since this is all open source stuff. Another great thing about this is since it is based on MythTV you can separate the functions of your setup so you could use that beefy server you put in the basement to do all the heavy lifting like encoding and decoding while that nice and quiet system you put next to your TV just takes care of the streaming the media up.
We see these boxes for geeks that have some extra cash, really enjoy the complete package that Linux MCE offers and don't mind doing some tinkering from time to time. We will come back with another review about performance and usability after we have done more research and/or get a system in house so stay tuned.
October 12, 2007
We here at Networking Audio Video love a good rumor and/or a promise of the next great new device. Well as were were doing our daily scouring of the net looking for great information to bring you we came across something that peaked our interest. In a couple of days( October 15, 2007 ) Popcorn Hour
will launch what could be our newest favorite product. They are rumored to be releasing a product that hits all of the features we here at Networking Audio Video dream of.
There isn't much info now since the site doesn't go live for another 2 days, but what we do know is very interesting. Supposedly, we are looking at a media center streamer that acts not only as a NAS server, not only as a BitTorrent server, but also a device that can stream in HD. As anyone that has read our blog for any length of time knows is that we love a solution that allows us to download and share media without having to keep our main power hungry PC on all the time. One of the main advantages of having a device like this take the BitTorrent downloading and NAS storage away from your main computer is that this is a low power device. You can leave this on over night and not see a huge spike on your electric bill.
So it looks like with the limited amount of information that is available that you can expect to stream content at 1080p resolution which isn't that common among media streamers.
We aren't sure what to actually expect, but all will hopefully be revealed in a few days and then we can update you on what could possibly be our dream NAS/Streaming device.
September 3, 2007
For those that love their Mac Mini, but don't like the limted storage and hook up options NewerTech is offering their miniStack as an answer to your woes. With both USB 2.0 and Ethernet you can access your files either from a local machine or the network. The miniStack can accommodate up to a 750GB drive allowing you to add some serious storage to your Mac mini setup.
With all the great media streaming setups available for the Mac, having an external drive attached to the base unit can seriously expand the possibilities for your library. Just think about having all of your movies, music and pictures stored right on your mini. Now you can run something like MediaCentral
and you don't have to worry about running out of space with your collection.
It doesn't hurt that it has the same form factor and looks pretty much just like the Mac mini so that it will blend right in. The Mac mini is one of those perfect devices to act as your media hub with its small form factor and near silent operation and having a nice add on like this could make all the difference.
August 31, 2007
PC World has a good article
on how to buy a NAS. Now the article is mostly centered on buying a NAS for a business, but we feel that a lot of the advice they give pertains to the home user as well. Most people don't realize they actually need a NAS solution for their home. Anyone that has multiple people accessing a network, multiple computers on a network, or a large amount of files that need to be alway accessible, a NAS is an easy way to achieve all of that.
We have always been a big fan of a central location for commonly accessed files as well as a repository for important backups. Just having a USB attached hard drive makes sharing with the rest of the computers on your network reliant on your computer being turned on and the drive being recognized.
With a NAS drive you will have storage that is always on and assuming you were smart and opted for either RAID 1 or RAID 5 you will have a secure location for all of your files. It is not enough to just back up your drives, you need to make sure that the back ups are safe and protected from drive failure. One thing we have learned over the years is that drives will fail and along with them your data goes the way of the Dodo.
Continue reading: "News: NAS Buying Guide"
August 21, 2007
Well like regular readers know, we are addicted to storage. We keep adding it just cause you never know when you need an extra TB or two. So we love when we come across products like the new Netcom NAS device.
With the ability to store up to 3 TB in RAID 0, 1 and 5 you are sure to find something to suit your needs. There is no network so you'll have to rely on this being hooked up to a central computer via a PCI host adapter that the others on your network can access. We would have liked to have seen an Ethernet connection added, but having an eSATA connection isn't so bad. Of course you will need a computer that can handle that, but you can always get an add on card for that.
No word yet on availability, but the price tag is around $2,000 so it doesn't come cheap. This seems like a great little device, but so far details are pretty scare. We would love to know if the disks are hot swappable and what media servers you could run on it. We will definitely be keeping our eye on this guy.