Lenovo is returning to the home storage market for the first time since it launched its IdeaCentre D400 back in 2009. The Lenovo Beacon Home Cloud Center is a two-drive NAS (network-attached storage) device that can be accessed locally or via the Internet.
The product sounds very similar to Western Digital's My Cloud, except that the Home Beacon will be equipped with HDMI and can stream multimedia files directly to a TV. WD's My Cloud requires a stand-alone media streamer or an HTPC client to do this. Oh, one other minor detail: The Home Beacon ships without drives--supplying one or two will add significantly to its bottom-line cost.
Lenovo has also developed an Android app that can turn a smartphone or tablet into a remote control. As well, users will be able to remotely upload and access content (photos, music, videos, documents, and so forth) stored on the Beacon, using a smartphone, tablet, or PC, via their home network or the Internet. Apple's iOS will not be supported at launch, and we're awaiting clarification on whether the Beacon will support Apple's Time Capsule backup technology.
The Beacon Home Cloud will be powered by a dual-core Intel Atom processor (specifically, the Intel Atom CE5315) and 1GB of DDR3 memory. It can accommodate up to 6TB of storage via two 3TB hard drives. It will have connectivity in the form of an onboard 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi adapter, Bluetooth 4.01, and a gigabit ethernet port. It will also have one USB 3.0 port, so it can import files from hard drives, digital cameras, and other devices with USB ports.
The Beacon will run Linux, unlike Lenovo's older IdeaCentre D400, which ran the first version of Microsoft's Windows Home Server. Lenovo apparently didn't have much success with the D400, because the company never introduced a successor based on Windows Home Server 2011, which Microsoft later discontinued. The Beacon Home Cloud will be priced at $199 when it ships in April.