Network-attached storage servers, in my opinion, have generally not been user-friendly enough. Even the easiest-to-use ones require some getting used to.
This is looking to change with the two new Media Hub series released under the networking giant's marketing brand "Linksys by Cisco" at CES this year, the NMH400 and the NMH300.
The NMH300 series is a budget solution that offers just the core features of the Media Hub, and you need to use a computer to manage the device.
The NMH400 series, on the other hand, features an LCD screen that lets users view a variety of information and perform certain tasks without a PC, such as updating firmware or making instant backups. The NMH400 series also has a 6-in-1 card reader for users to transfer content of flash media onto the Media Hub without the need for a computer.
Much like the HP MediaVault, both Media Hub series feature two hard-drive bays--each can take SATA hard drives of any sizes. One of the bays is occupied with a drive from Linksys. The NMH300 series come with a 500GB hard drive, while the NMH400 series also offer an option of 1TB. The second bay is left empty for users to upgrade.
According to Linksys, the new NAS servers share common Media Hub features, including an easy graphical user interface, simple remote access, and easy-to-operate backup functions. They also boast a friendly design and silent operation that allows them to reside anywhere in the house.
The rest of the core Media Hub feature list includes:
- Two USB ports for external storage and one media reader that supports CF/MD/MS/SD/XD/MMC memory cards
- Gigabit Ethernet connection
- RAID1/JBOD configurations
- Support for SMB/CIF protocol: network users can access the NAS server the same way they access another computer in the network
- PC backup with NTI Shadow software: automatic scheduled backup available
- On-demand backup via GUI or LCD Continuous backup option available
- User-friendly way to import media content with Linksys Media Importer
- DLNA 1.5 certified. Ability to stream content to Xbox 360 or UPnP DMA devices and support iTunes server
- Support for up to three simultaneous HD streams
- Automated "crawl" for UPnP servers to index and aggregate all digital media in the home
- User-friendly, browser-based media browser to view JPEG pictures, play MP3 and WMA music, and manage system configuration
- Media server support for most content formats: Audio: M4A, M4B, MP4, 3GP, WAV, OGG, FLAC, AAC, MP2, AC3, MPA, MP1, AIF, ASF Photo: PNG, TIF, TIFF, BMP, GIF Video: MP1, MPG, SPTS, MP4, AVI, VOB, DivX, 3GP, VDR, MPE, DVR-MS, Xvid, M1V, M4V, MOV, MPV
- Playlists: M3U, M3U8, PLS, WPL
- Remote access using DDNS in combination with Linksys relaying service to cover up to 100 percent of all Internet users
The new Media Hub NAS servers are expected to be available in the first quarter of 2009, and cost $300 (500GB NMH300) and $350 (500GB NMH400). You can also get the 1TB version of the NMH400 series for $430.