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New Pogoplug gets hard drives online with more color, extra USB ports

An affordable way to get your offline hard drives online adds extra ports and costs a little bit more than before.

The new Pogoplug: more USB ports for extra hard drives, very pink. Cloud Engines

Just recently we reviewed Cloud Engines' Pogoplug, a very affordable $99 solution that effortlessly turns any USB hard drive or memory stick into an online-connected makeshift server. We really enjoyed playing with the original, although its blocky white look wasn't exactly eyecatching. We take that back--and perhaps even long for the minimalism--with Cloud Engines' new Pogoplug, available in December.

Full of funky curves and lots of pink, the new Pogoplug is clearly designed to be more of a desktop or shelf-based companion as opposed to its predecessor, which adopted more of an Airport Express plug-in brick solution. Now, it almost looks like an iMac peripheral from 1999. While the last Pogoplug had just one USB 2.0 port but could support plugged-in USB routers, the new Pogoplug has four built-in USB 2.0 ports for direct connection of hard drives, and new software tweaks more easily allow global search across all drives, as well as better category organization and even the creation of slideshows, set to music, that can be launched directly from the Pogoplug's browser interface.

The original Pogoplug: far more minimalist. Cloud Engines

The new version jacks up the price a little to $129, but the added ports and more prominent base could be appealing for those who want to build a little home-made server. The original Pogoplug is more of a one-stop portable shop that's ideal for travel and for one USB device, or for those who want to save thirty bucks. We're a little surprised the new Pogoplug didn't simply offer an enclosure to slot a hard drive (or drives) in directly, but it does offer a nice solution for a variety of USB devices.

Other new features include syncing with programs such as iTunes, iPhoto and Windows Media Center, a built-in updating address book for file sharing, and video streaming from within the Pogoplug browser or on the iPhone, a feature that was supposed to be available in the last Pogoplug but never really worked for us. Most cameras and video formats are supposed to be supported. Pogoplug supports NTFS, FAT32, Mac OS Extended Journaled and Non-Journaled (HFS+), and EXT-2/EXT-3 formats.

Read our original Pogoplug review, or if you're curious as to how the Pogoplug works, check out the hands-on gallery below.