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Networking

Lima dongle brings all of your stuff to your devices, across OSes

If you've got a Web connection and a Lima, you can access your files anywhere -- take a photo on your phone and it'll appear on your tablet, whatever OS they run.

LAS VEGAS -- After a successful Kickstarter run back in September 2013 and some time in development, Lima is ready to bring its ubiquitous personal cloud solution to market. On display here at CES 2015, the $149 device aims to let you access all of your files everywhere, even across devices running different OSes. It packs all this convenience into a tiny footprint.

Lima calls its device "the brain of your devices." Setup is deceptively simple: plug a Lima into your router, via the Ethernet jack that sits on one end of the dongle. You'll then plug an external hard drive into the other end -- if you've got a powered USB hub, the Lima can support multiple drives, with a maximum capacity of 8TB. Once you're connected, you'll install the Lima app on all of your devices -- it'll run on Windows and Macs, Android and iOS devices.

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Connect the Lima to your home network through this Ethernet jack. Nate Ralph/CNET

Now, bask in ubiquitous file access. Take a photo with your Android phone, and it'll show up on your Windows 8 tablet's My Pictures photo. Drag that photo onto the desktop, and that change will be reflected in the app. And none of your files exist in the cloud: your total storage capacity is determined by the hard drives you've connected to the Lima, and you'll need to be connected to the Web to get to them. If you're not near one of your devices, there's also a Web app you can use to access your files. This might limit the utility when compared to something like Dropbox. But on the plus side, you won't need to worry about syncing multiple copies of your files everywhere.

The Lima does more than let you get at your stuff on the go. The app will display your photos, and has an integrated music player that will pull metadata from Gracenote to serve up gorgeous album art. There's also an integrated video player, so you can stream any of your media anywhere at all. It's quite a neat trick, and can come in handy if you've got lots of files to wrangle.

While Lima doesn't serve as a backup, the device will keep copies of older versions of your files -- you'll want to stick to traditional backup services. There are plans to offer RAID support, though details on when have yet to be announced. The Lima will begin shipping this year to Kickstarter backers, though you can pre-order one for $149, which converts to around £100 or AU$185. That price gives me pause: it's a nifty idea, but $150 is quite a bit to pay for the convenience being offered here. That said, if you act soon you can pre-order for $99.

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