Editors' note, July 13, 2010: We increased this review's features subrating and its overall rating based on our testing of the server's remote access and media streaming features, which didn't work during our initial testing.
The Verbatim 1TB MediaShare Home Network Storage Server has the same shape as Apple's stylish Time Capsule: squarish with smooth and rounded corners. However, the Verbatim brings the style up a notch with a chassis made of brushed aluminum. As a NAS server, the device offers good throughput performance of has plenty of ports to support more storage.
Like the Time Capsule, however, it's far from perfect. The Verbatim is hard to set up and use; its Web interface is not robust or intuitive enough; and its media share feature requires an annual subscription. Last but not least, the server's hard drive can't be serviced by users and is limited to just 1TB.
For about $200, if you don't mind spending some time to familiarize yourself with the way it works, the Verbatim 1TB MediaShare could makes a good addition to your network as a storage device, and an even better addition to your home as a piece of tech deco. If you want something that offers more functionality and is easier to use, however, check out the LG N1T1.
Design and setup
The Verbatim 1TB MediaShare Home Network Storage Server is the first single-volume NAS server we've seen with so much emphasis on design. The shiny device looks like it's made of stainless steel and feels as if it could survive being run over by a truck; it's heavy and sturdy, and managed to still be one of the most aesthetically pleasing NAS servers we've seen.
The thick layer of shiny aluminum also helps dissipate the heat, making the server one of the coolest and quietest NAS servers we've reviewed, even during heavy loads.
On the front, the Verbatim has a USB port and a Backup button. This is a standard feature that allows for backing up a USB storage device onto the server's internal storage. There are also LED lights that show the status of the server, the internal hard drive, and the network activities.
On the back, the device has anther two USB ports, an eSATA port and a Gigabit Ethernet port. The Verbatim has the most peripheral ports among single volume NAS devices. The LG N1T1, for example, has just one USB port. These ports can be used to host extra storage, which is important because the server's internal storage is limited to only 1TB and you can't change the internal hard drive by yourself.
Unlike its pleasant attire, setting the server proved to be rather involved and could be frustrating for home users. The device comes with a CD that contains software to facilitate the setup process; there are three steps to the software: "Setup," "Install Desktop Application," and "Backup Configuration." The first two steps are mandatory and the last one is optional.
Unfortunately the work didn't turn out to be as easy as 1,2,3. The setup software is slow during transitions from one section to another and each above-mentioned step includes multiple smaller steps.
"Setup," for example, forces you to register the NAS server with Verbatim, which involves entering a long and closely printed serial number from the CD sleeve. You then have to provide an e-mail and pick a strong password. Note that you must have a connection to the Internet for this to work, which could be a big problem if you intend to use the server with an isolated network.
All in all, the Verbatim's setup process, though not exactly difficult, took us the longest time among recent single volume NAS servers to finish.
The second step of the setup process in to install Verbatim's MediaShare Agent desktop application. This application automatically runs each time the computer starts and helps to map the server's shared folders to the local computer for faster access. You can also play them back directly from the Web browser and stream them to DLNA-compliant devices. You can turn the streaming feature on or off for each share folder, but you can't change how often the server looks for newly-added content. To make the added content available to media streamer right away, you'll need to restart the NAS server.
Technically, however, you can do all of these without using the software. For example, can you get to the server's Web interface by pointing a browser to its IP address, and you can browse for the server's shared folders using Windows Explorer, and map the share folders manually. On a Mac computer, the server automatically appears in Finder.
The server's Web interface is rather sluggish and seems over-simplified to the point that it's sometimes counterintuitive. For example, in "Network Sharing" under "System Preferences", there's an option to "Enable network sharing for private files," which invites you to pick "yes" or "no." However, there's no explanation as to what yes or no would mean or what constitutes "private files." Other settings also have similarly ambiguous wording.
The server shares data in a manner reminiscent of the user profiles of a Windows operating system. By default, a user is able to access two main shared folders called "MyLibrary" and "FamilyLibrary." Inside each of these two are subfolders named after the types of data they contain, such as Music, Photo and so on. When you put digital content into their respective subfolders, it can be viewed as albums (for photos) or as media library (music and video). You can also play them back directly from the Web browser and stream them to DLNA-compliant devices. You can turn the streaming feature on or off for each share folder but you can't change how often the server looks for newly-added content. To make the added content available to media streamer right away, you'll need to restart the NAS server.