Asus WL-HDD 2.5 review: Asus WL-HDD 2.5

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The Good Small and light; inexpensive; 802.11g; repeater mode.

The Bad External power adapter adds bulk; lacks NTFS write support; poor service and support.

The Bottom Line Unless you need the WL-HDD 2.5's portability, consider a nonwireless networked hard drive such as our Editors' Choice, the -30639593.html?tag=txt'>Buffalo LinkStation.

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6.4 Overall
  • Setup 6
  • Features 7
  • Performance 7
  • Support 4

Asus WL-HDD 2.5

The Asus WL-HDD 2.5 is a wireless hard drive enclosure that facilitates toting data around and sharing it with friends and business associates. Once you add your own 2.5-inch drive--you choose the capacity--the enclosure connects the hard drive to an 802.11g access point, making it easy to share data with most new computers and PDAs. For example, you could take it to a party and make your entire music collection available. Since many laptops have 2.5-inch drives, you could even use the enclosure to repurpose a laptop drive you were about to put out to pasture.

Basic setup is simple, but there are many installation scenarios for the WL-HDD 2.5, and you'll need to call forth your inner geek and flip through the 90-page manual to take full advantage of the unit. The drive enclosure comes with a helpful, printed quick-start guide, which walks you through the initial steps. You begin installation by unscrewing the outer shell, pulling out the circuit board, and adding a 2.5-inch hard drive. (We used an 80GB Hitachi Travelstar drive in our informal tests.) Then, screw the device back together and connect it to a computer or a router with a standard Ethernet cable.

Next, you configure the WL-HDD 2.5 via the unit's browser-based configuration tool. The tool allows you to format the enclosure's drive and prepare it for use. Supported formats include FAT, FAT32, NTFS, EXT2, and EXT3. Unfortunately, NTFS support is read-only, which means that if you're using an NTFS volume on the drive, you won't be able to write to it.

By default, the WL-HDD 2.5 is set to allow all connections to access the drive, but the browser-based tool lets you set user permissions and passwords. You can also use the configuration tool to assign read and write access permissions to specific folders and partitions.

The WL-HDD 2.5's integrated 802.11g access point sets it apart from other network drives we've tested. You can use the unit either as a standard access point or as a repeater/bridge by enabling the WL-HDD 2.5's proprietary WDS, (wireless distribution system) feature. This feature lets you wirelessly connect the enclosure to other Asus WDS-enabled access points and routers, such as the WL-500g router. You can also connect the unit to your network via the Ethernet port, and a USB 1.1 port on the unit's back panel lets you transfer files automatically from a flash drive to the WL-HDD 2.5.