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Sharing the same physical design as Lacie's Network Space 2 NAS server, LaCie's Wireless Space adds one more major function: it's also a wireless router. The device rivals Apple's Time Capsule, and despite the lack of support for dual-band, it outdoes its opponents both in terms of features and performance. It's also good looking and much cheaper at just around $230 for the 1TB (or $350 for 2TB). It also offers support for Apple's Time Machine backup solution.
The Wireless Space could still use some big improvements, however, especially in range throughput speed. Like the Network Space 2, it doesn't offer as many features as other dedicated NAS servers, and its Web interface is somewhat esoteric.
If you're looking for a simple and affective combo of network storage and wireless router for your home, or just want to replace your Time Capsule, the Wireless Space is a good bet. Otherwise, for better performance and more features, it's a better idea to get a separate wireless router and a dedicated NAS server.
The Wireless Space is shaped like a brick, but it still manages to remain aesthetically pleasing, thanks to the sleek surface and the blue bottom-facing indicator light on the front. Also on the front, you'll find a USB port to host a USB external storage devices or printers. There are another two USB ports on the back of the server with the same functionalities. The Wireless Space comes with three LAN port (for wired devices) and one WAN port (to connect to an Internet source). All of these ports are gigabit. It's one of a few routers that have only three LAN ports; most others have four.
The light on the front indicates the power status of the device as well as the activities of the hard drive. Solid blue means the device is powered on and ready, and flashing blue means the hard drive is working. The coolest thing about this light is the fact that it shines blue light downward like a car's headlight.
The device has four rubber feet to keep it grounded on any surface and also create an open area underneath to ventilate the heat generated from the built-in hard drive. You won't be able to change this hard drive; the LaCie Wireless Space is designed in a way that seems impossible to get to the hard drive inside without breaking it cover.
The Wireless Space comes with a software CD that includes the Setup Assistant that helps you discover the device in the network and set it up. Unfortunately in our trials, the software was never able to find the device. Instead, we used the router's Web interface, which can be opened by pointing a connected computer's browser to 22.214.171.124.1.
The Web interface is very much like that of the Network Space 2. On the bottom and right sides of the interface are two arrays of big category buttons, such as Wireless AP, Firewall, and Network WAN. Clicking on a button will display that category's settings for you to make changes. These buttons can be easily removed, as well. At the lower-right-hand corner of the interface, there's a small area where you'll see tiny icons of categories that are not currently displayed as buttons. You'll need to drag an icon to the bottom or right side of the interface to turn it into a button, before you can access that category's settings. This way of organizing the interface is rather unusual and can be confusing for users who have never used LaCie's products before.
The Wireless Space can be set up in different roles, including a wireless/nonwireless router with built-in NAS, or a wireless/nonwireless switch with built-in NAS. These roles can be changed via a Mode button. We tested the device where it functions as a wireless router with built-in NAS, which is the most common mode for this type of device.
As a wireless router, the LaCie Wireless Space supports only the 2.4Ghz frequency band, making it a little less appealing than the Time Capsule, which supports both the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz bands. The LaCie also lacks guest networking, which allows you to create a separate wireless network for guests.
Nonetheless, it offers a set of popular features found in most wireless routers, including the support for Dynamic DNS, Port Forwarding, and Static IP assignment. These make setting up an over-the-Internet service to a computer in the network possible. For security, the router also comes with all the existing variations of WEP and WPA/WPA2 encryption methods.
Compared with the Time Capsule, the Wireless Space's network storage function is far superior, though still lacking if you stack it against other standalone NAS servers.
By default the device offers two share folders called MyShare and OpenShare. MyShare is password-protected and can only be accessed via the admin account; OpenShare can be accessed by anybody in the network. You can make more subfolders in these two share folders, but you can't make any additional share folders. Unlike with the Network Space 2, it seems you can't make additional user accounts with the Wireless Space, either.
The Wireless Space supports external hard drives formatted in either FAT32 or NTFS. Once plugged in, the content of the drive will be shared with public access under a share folder named after the name of the drive's volume. You can use the Drive button to change the settings of support for external hard dives, including the ability automatically back up their entire content onto the NAS' internal storage, or unmount it.
To enable support for Apple's Time Machine, you'll need to use the General Settings button and check the box that reads "Time Machine support." Now, any Macs connected to the same network as the Wireless Space will automatically see its share folders as a destination for the Time Machine backup.
The Wireless Space supports both PCs and Macs, and can be used with both without any software installed on the computer. It automatically appears in the Mac's Finder; in Windows, you can easily brows for its share folders via a network browser, such as Windows Explorer. You can also enable support for media streaming which will detect and broadcast digital content from its share folders to any UPnP- or DLNA-compliant playback devices and iTunes software.
The fanciest feature the server offers is that it supports PC-less downloading for torrents. Other than that, the server doesn't offer other popular features, such as remote access, Web site downloads, or support for IP cameras.
For PC users, the LaCie Wireless Space comes with LaCie Genie Time Line, which is a backup software application that's similar to Time Machine for Macs.
The Wireless Space performed comparatively well in our tests, though we wish it had done better.
In tests for a wireless router, it did well with the close range test, scoring 54.3Mpbs, about the average on our charts. At this speed, it can finish transmitting 500MB of data in about 75 seconds. The device, however, did much worse in the range test, where it was put 100 feet away from the client. Here it scored just 19.8Mps, the lowest score among 2.4Ghz routers. In the mixed-mode test, where it was set to work with both Wireless-N and legacy clients, it scored 48.6Mbps, which was, again, about average.
We noticed that the Wireless Space's signal, though it can reach relatively far (up to 250 feet), degraded significantly in terms of throughput. Ideally, you should only use the router with clients placed no farther than 75 feet from it. To make up for this, it offers excellent signal stability, passing our 48-hour stress test without disconnecting once.
As a NAS server, the Wireless Space was by far the fastest among NAS/router combo devices we've reviewed, scoring 140.6Mbps for writing and 164.7Mbps for reading. When compared with dedicated NAS servers, however, the Wireless Space's performance was still really far behind. The Asus TS Mini , for example, scored 467.1Mbps for writing and 690.3Mbps for reading, more than three times the speed of the Wireless Space.
Nonetheless we found that with its performance, the Wireless Space will handle most data-sharing jobs and media streaming in your home. And for its compact size, its performance met our expectations.
Service and support
Like with the Network Space 2, LaCie backs the Wireless Space with a two-year warranty, which is longer than what most other NAS servers offer. The warranty covers parts and labor. Telephone support is offered Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT. At LaCie's Web site, you can download software that accompanies the device, its GPL source code, as well as have access it its documentation, knowledge base, FAQs, and other ways to contact Lacie.