Home servers like the Verbatim MediaShare exist to address three increasingly common needs: creating a central location to store the gigabytes of music, movie and photo files that would otherwise clog up your Mac’s hard disk; easily sharing those files with other devices and users on your home network; and finding a convenient and easy way to back up your laptop, desktop, etc. The home server concept is certainly nothing new, so what does Verbatim bring to the party?
The Verbatim MediaShare certainly looks familiar, echoing the squat square shape of Apple’s Time Capsule or Mac mini, complete with rounded corners and a brushed aluminium finish. Inside it packs either 1TB or 2TB of storage, depending on model; outside you’ll find one Ethernet, one eSATA and two USB ports on the back. A third USB port on the front lets you easily transfer files from a USB stick without the need for a computer.
Setup is fairly straightforward: you first assign a unique MediaShare name, login and password so you can access the drive remotely – the supplied MediaShare Agent software makes it a breeze to transfer files and access the MediaShare’s browser-based interface.
Once you log in you can easily create new folders and albums, but only if you create them inside Verbatim’s top-level FamilyLibrary and MyLibrary folders. Drill down into MediaShare’s Preferences files, though, and things start to get confusing with a range of cryptic-looking options.
Sharing files is easier. There’s a wide range of options, including the ability to send web links by email or upload images to social-networking sites like Flickr. We also like the fact that you can play back your files on an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad using the HipServ app – it’s just a shame you have to pay a $20 (£13) Premium subscription to be able to do so. We had no problems streaming a wide range of video and music files – the MediaShare offers native support for Mac-friendly codecs like AAC and H.264. It even includes iTunes Server so you can stream music from the drive in iTunes. The Time Machine backup option also works as expected.
Stylish and straightforward to use, the Verbatim MediaShare is a great way to share your media files in, around and outside your home. The browser-based interface is a mixed blessing though and certain features – like the ability to stream your own movies to your own iPhone – require an annual subscription.