LaCie has released the second generation of its network CD server unit, the Network Box.

The device enables data from up to 255 CDs to be shared across a network. Set-up is easy, claims LaCie, suggesting that the product is ideal for image libraries, software installers or any corporate environments in which large quantities of data are shared.

The unit comprises one CD-ROM drive and a 60GB hard-disk. Data from CDs is copied to the disk, the CDs can then be archived securely elsewhere. Once data is installed, the information is available to users on a network - but data held on board cannot be altered.

Set-up ease The Network Box does not require a server or software, it simply plugs into an Ethernet network and automatically configures itself.

Administration is conducted using an LCD panel mounted on the machine. Advanced management, such as setting authorization levels, can be conducted using any Web browser.

In terms of data retrieval, LaCie claims its solution is one of the fastest CD servers on the market. Also, because data is held on a hard drive, seek time for data shrinks to approximately 9 milliseconds, against the 120ms wait usually experienced accessing data from a CD.

The product is compatible with all current Macintosh operating systems, including Mac OS X, according to LaCie. It's available now and costs £899, LaCie is offering a two-year warranty on the product.