Data backup falls resolutely at the dreary end of the tech-task scale; periodically market researchers release stats showing how few people take the time to safely copy their accumulated files, usually prompting a guilty DVD burning session which never gets repeated. Apple's Time Capsule, then, was welcomed with excited upon its announcement; with the slick, careful design Apple are renowned for, could they manage to make even backup sexy? To be fair, it's a pretty huge challenge. You'll be hard-pressed to find a nicer looking network hard-drive, or one so straightforward to set up, but Time Capsule undoubtedly has its caveats.
So I met with Buffalo at CES, and then shortly after they were kind enough to send me their LinkStation Pro Duo for review. I must say I am impressed, it is quite squarely aimed at business users, but for home users, it has some fairly useful features as well.
This think got its name partly from its intended use, you see currently you have to have a wired, direct-connected hard drive in order to use Time Machine, but with this thing, you can backup wirelessly, or over a network, if you wanted to, and you can backup directly to this drive instead of some other external drive. If this thing works with PC’s as well as Macs, and if it works as just plain old NAS as well as backup storage, than this will by far be my favorite release that was announced today. It’s also the only announcement where the product isn’t available now, in fact, it won’t be available until February.
First up from Steve Jobs' Macworld 08 Keynote is a wireless NAS: Time Capsule is an AirPort Extreme complete with a server-grade hard-drive that works seamlessly with OS X's Time Machine backup software. Available in two capacities, 500GB and 1TB, Time Capsule resembles an Apple TV unit with 802.11n WiFi, and will be priced at $299 and $499 respectively.
Oh, all this WiFi N business makes me chuckle, they don’t even have a set standard, its still in draft stages, and they have been selling the hardware for like a year or something like that, so dumb. Anyways, Linksys is bringing you the latest from Draft 2.0.
It uses a Broadcom chipset for dual-band 802.11n goodness and even had gigabit Ethernet ports. You can even hook up an external USB drive and make it into and NAS as well.
Back when I reviewed LaCie's Ethernet Disk mini I was particularly taken by its UPnP media funnelling capacities (which still form the core of my home media setup); now they've upgraded the range of compact network-attached storage with the Home Edition, which adds remote access, iTunes media server functionality and Axentra HipServ for drag'n'drop file sharing.
There is the StorCenter Pro NAS 200r, StorCenter Pro NAS 200r with Print serving, and the StorCenter Pro NAS 150d. All three are new, and all three are aimed as small to medium businesses.
The 200r models are both rack mountable and have one terabyte of storage as well as support for tons of server level technologies making them easier to manage. They will be retailing for $1899 for the one without print support, and $2499 for the one with print support.
There are 2 sata drive bays, an a Mac-like design to the device. On top of that there is USB 2.0 support and gigabit Ethernet with FTP support.
Not too terribly big of a deal, but the iTunes support is what tops it all off. I gather that what it does is dupe iTunes into thinking it is actually another entire PC so iTunes will stream music from it.
So how does a run of the mill NAS on steroid sound? Well, that’s basically what Microsoft and HP have thrown together.
First, it has a faster processor than my HP laptop, with the server packing a 1.8GHz Sempron. Then it adds on 4 SATA drive bays and 4 USB ports for adding more. There are two models, one that comes with a single drive 500GB configuration and one that takes up 2 drive bays for 1TB.