The Iomega StorCenter ix2 is a network-attached storage (NAS) drive with a unique feature set. It's the first NAS drive we've tested that supports Bluetooth devices and it's also the first that doesn't offer remote, over-the-Internet access. It's also one of a few that is not user-serviceable; you're stuck with the two hard drives it comes with. On the bright side, the StorCenter ix2 is dead simple to set up and use--it just might be the easiest-to-use NAS server we've laid hands on. It's also compact and the first to support writing to external hard drives in NTFS format. If you need easy access over the Internet to your NAS, we'd recommend the Maxtor Central Axis or the Buffalo LinkStation Mini . Otherwise, at $299 the 1TB Iomega StorCenter ix2 is a decent investment for a home network. You can also get a 2TB version of the device for a reasonable $479.
Design and setup
The Iomega StorCenter ix2 is about as compact as a NAS server can get with two internal hard drives; it's barely larger than two 3.5-inch hard drives put together. The StorCenter ix2 comes with two 500GB hard drives or two 1TB drives, but you can't replace the hard drives yourself.
On the front there are two blue status lights, one for power and the other for drive activity. These lights are very bright, enough to be annoying in a dark room. On the back, you'll find a Gigabit Ethernet port and two USB 2.0 ports. The device has a small cooling fan inside, which is very quiet.
Setting up the StorCenter ix2 is painless. Once hooked to the network, we followed the included CD and after a few clicks and a few minutes, everything was done--including two network drives being mapped to the NAS' default share folders: Public and Backup.
The setup process also installs the Iomega StorCenter Manager software, which helps add new USB devices connected to the NAS server, shows the network drives, and launches the Web-based interface where you can further customize the settings of the StorCenter ix2. Other than using the Iomega StorCenter Manager, you can also access the ix2 using Windows Explorer the way you would access another computer in a local network.
The StorCenter ix2 comes with EMC Retrospect Express HD backup software. The software, though easy to use, is very limited. Other than the content of My Documents and Desktop folders, you can't choose to back up any other folders on the hard drive unless you choose to back the entire hard drive altogether.
The StorCenter ix2 supplies many popular NAS features save one: remote access via the Web. Iomega says it might add this feature later via a firmware update. On the other hand, the StorCenter ix2 includes a feature that we've never seen before on a NAS drives: Bluetooth support. It doesn't come built-in, but rather via a USB adapter that you'll need to insert into one of the StorCenter's USB ports. We tried it with a Kensington USB Micro Bluetooth adapter, and it worked the moment we plugged it into the NAS server. We were able to send images from different cell phones directly into the NAS server and they were immediately available to other network users. Bluetooth access is on way; there was no way for the phone to get anything from the NAS server.
The USB 2.0 ports of the StorCenter let you extend the storage capacity by connecting an external hard drive. To our pleasant surprise, the NAS supports read and write access to external hard drives formatted in either FAT32 or NTFS format. This is the first time we've seen a NAS drive that supports both read and write to NTFS external hard drives; most support only read access, some don't even offer support at all.
Other features of the StorCenter include support for media servers (including UPnP, DLNA, and iTunes), a print server, and a security camera. The media server and print server worked well during our tryout and were easy to set up, thanks to Iomega's well-organized and intuitive Web interface. The security camera feature, however, was very limited. The NAS server supports only one network camera at a time, and it can only record based on schedule, not motion detection, as found in the Synology DS107+. Nonetheless, we tried it with an Axis network security camera, and it worked as intended. The Web-based page for the camera also works well with the iPhone and the iPod Touch. We were able to view the live video on an iPhone via a Wi-Fi connection. The security camera feature of the StorCenter ix2 works better as a tool that keeps tab on kids, rather than as a surveillance system.