SmartDisk SOHO NAS

The sleek SmartDisk SOHO NAS is a network attached drive packing 250GB (or 400GB) of storage into a compact space. While there’s an external power transformer, it’s relatively unobtrusive. The simplicity of the exterior extends to the no-frills setup. Unusually for a NAS drive there’s no software to install. Simply plug it in to a USB port for use as an external drive or connect it by Ethernet to a router to share the drive across a network.

The SmartDisk is Mac and PC compatible out of the box, with the main partition formatted to FAT32. The format’s not as fast as Mac OS Extended. Also, there’s a 4GB limit on file size built into FAT32 that makes it impractical for working with high-end media, like uncompressed video. However, the bundled, browser-based configuration tool enables you to reformat the main partition as EXT3, a Linux file system that’s capable of handling files up to 2 Terabytes in size and that PCs should still be able to read.

Plug the SmartDisk SOHO NAS into your router and it should connect to your network, appearing in your Mac’s Workgroup as a shared drive. The unit either negotiates an IP address using your router’s built-in DHCP server, or will assign an address to itself using Apple’s Bonjour. The drive also supports the widely used Samba protocol and has a built-in FTP server.

Once connected, the unit can be further configured through a browser control panel – the same tool that enables you to tweak security settings, create user groups and set up additional services. The drive features a USB-B port, for example, which can be used to connect a network printer configured in the control panel. And if you need even more space you can plug in another storage device.

OUR VERDICT

Our one real gripe is the lack of external indicators on the box. There’s just a simple button that lights up when the drive is switched on. There are no lights to show you if the drive has successfully connected to your router, no error lights, and no indication that the disk is being written to. With no external software either, this could make errors in function difficult to diagnose and rectify.

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