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Pogoplug early review: Cloud media storage gets personal

We've been getting all sorts of jiggy with the Pogoplug -- a device that lets you share your files with friends, family, Facebook stalkers -- and yourself -- over the Internet

Rory Reid
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This fine Wednesday, we've been getting all sorts of jiggy with the Pogoplug -- a device that lets you share your files with friends, family, Facebook stalkers -- and yourself -- over the Internet. Think of it as your own personal Web-connected storage device in the sky.

We weren't too enamoured with this thing when we first got it out of the box. Its neon pink and clear Perspex design is unusual to say the least, and it left us feeling a little intimidated and unsure of our collective identity. Even our very own Flora Graham balked at its shocking pink exterior, and she's an actual girl.

It's just as well, then, that it's super-easy to use and has plenty of great functionality. Simply connect it to your router via an Ethernet cable, plug an external hard drive or USB thumb drive  into one of its four USB ports (no, it doesn't come with its own internal storage) activate it via the Pogoplug Web site, and you're good to go.

Once complete, you can access files and stream music and movies stored on the Pogoplug's USB drives from any other PC. You can also authorise other users to do the same, or share links to these files on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace or a public RSS feed.

That, friends, is just the tip of the Pogoplug iceberg. Inside the device lurks a 1.2GHz ARM processor, 256MB of RAM and a Linux distro, on to which you can install all manner of open-source software. The most interesting of these include media servers, Web-based BitTorrent clients and Web servers. As such, you can use Pogoplug as a dedicated torrent machine (reducing the burden on your PC) or run your entire Web site off it -- though you'll need a fast broadband uplink if you're to avoid the wrath of your userbase.

If it all sounds a little too easy and problem-free, that's because it sort of is. The only slight issues we encountered during our time with the device were to do with it using a Macromedia Flash plug-in to stream files, and not all of our media was supported. There's an option to transcode incompatible files into something Flash can play, but we couldn't get this to work with our .WMV test videos.

Social network fiends should also be aware that when Tweeting a link to a shared folder, the standard Pogoplug URL is enormous, and there is no immediate option to use a URL shortening tool. Also, the Pogoplug Facebook app doesn't provide a thumbnail of the files you're sharing -- you'll have to make do with the Pogoplug logo and a caption of your choosing.

On the whole, we're big fans of the Pogoplug. Equivalent online services such as Dropbox may be a better solution for users who don't want to rely on any physical hardware, but if you want Web access to your own USB storage devices, and you don't want to pay a subscription for the privilege, Pogoplug is the way to go.

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The Pogoplug makes a real statement with its looks, but we're not sure we subscribe to whatever this statement might be.
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Round the back, it has three USB ports, Gigabit Ethernet and an AC power inlet.
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The pink orifice acts as a cable tidy.
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A fourth USB port lives at the front and comes in handy for connecting USB thumb drives.

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