Traditionally, CD jukeboxes have been high-price products, out of the range of smaller offices and studios. La Cie has come up with a novel approach that is both cheaper, and more compact, than other methods of CD-sharing.
It has achieved this with the NetBox, a hard-drive and CD combo that includes a whole box of networking tricks. The box plugs into your network using ethernet, and quite separate from any other machine. Inside the box, lurks a hard disk, a fast CD-ROM, and a tiny computer running Linux. Before you head for the hills to hide from Linux gobbledygook, don’t panic,
– it is well hidden from the users. All the computer does is take care of networking, and controls the CD-ROM.
The box takes the place of multiple CD-ROMs, by copying, to the hard disk, any CD you put in it. It then becomes available for sharing on the network, and you can remove the CD. Even the most basic NetBox model offers a capacity of 18GB, which is a minimum of 27 full CD-ROMs.
In reality, many CDs will contain less than 650MBs: if there was just 200MBs on each disk, you could have 90 CDs loaded at once. If you were using a carousel for this task, you would be limited by the number of CDs – rather than the size of the files. This makes NetBox much more efficient, and cheaper, than other jukebox options.
If you run out of space, you can add up to five drives to the NetBox. There are also versions with larger 36GB disks, as well as a DVD-ROM option.
It isn’t as easy to use as La Cie claims – it’s not quite as simple as just plugging it in. However, it took only five minutes, with the manual, to get it up and running. Once you’ve got it going, you will rarely need to go back to it: it’s operated remotely, there is only a power switch and an eject button on the box itself. You log-in via a Web browser, and change settings from there. You use the browser to manage the space, deleting old CDs and setting sharing preferences.
The NetBox brings high-end archive-storage into a new price bracket. Just £1,395 gets you up-and-running with a minimum 27-disk capacity – that’s a fraction of the price of a CD jukebox. It is a tidy way to keep track of your CD archives, plus you will have no more trouble with lost CDs. I’m sure the NetBox will reach a whole new archiving audience.