Tritton Wireless NAS
Those who need extra storage capacity but aren't keen on adding more wires to an already crowded desktop can go wireless with Tritton Technologies' WiFi NAS. The marriage of an 802.11g access point and a 120GB or 200GB hard drive, the device should be the perfect complement to any home or small-office network. Its uses include archiving files, backing up computers, and distributing Web access. But its price tag is steep, particularly in light of the drive's inflexible operation and lack of up-to-date security options. We suggest that you consider our Editors' Choice, the Buffalo LinkStation, which lacks a wireless interface but has a print server and other useful features that the Tritton WiFi NAS lacks.
Inside the stylish black-and-silver case of the Tritton WiFi NAS is an off-the-shelf 7,200rpm hard drive. But with only 2MB of hardware cache, the drive is hardly equipped for high performance. The enclosure, which is so large that it should have been able to hold two drives, can sit horizontally or vertically with the included base. It wobbles, however, and its front-mounted cooling fans mar an otherwise appealing design. Large, bright LEDs show diagnostics, drive activity, network action, and whether the drive is full.
As far as its wireless capabilities go, the Tritton WiFi NAS can communicate with 802.11b and 802.11g clients. It relies on 64- or 128-bit WEP encryption, not the latest WPA security protocol. Tritton plans to update the WiFi NAS by the end of the year with WPA, multimedia features, and wireless-client capability. Further out on the horizon, Tritton is considering using the WiFi NAS as an FTP server.
Setting up the WiFi NAS is quick and easy: plug in the included AC adapter, make contact wirelessly via a Wi-Fi notebook or a desktop computer, and map the drive. The device comes with two CDs that hold the detailed 50-page manual and the included software bundle. After loading the required software, the 120MB drive on our test unit yielded 112,412MB of usable space and was ready for use by any computer running Windows 2000, Windows XP, or Mac OS X or higher. Rather than using FAT16, FAT32, NTFS, or another popular formatting scheme, the WiFi NAS relies on the Linux-based EXT3 partitioning format. The software misplaces its formatting command in the Reset section of the interface. While you can reformat the drive as NTFS, you can't adjust cluster size or allocation units.
Software sets the Tritton WiFi NAS apart from the crowd with GenieSoft's Backup Manager Pro 5.0 Lite, which copies files and can rebuild a problem computer. Backup Manager Pro 5.0 Lite is difficult to get started and less intuitive than Retrospect or the Microsoft-licensed Veritas software. The file manager, called One File, adds the ability to copy open files and schedule unattended backups. The backed-up files can be secured with up to 256-bit AES encryption. In our informal tests, the WiFi NAS backed up our IBM ThinkPad R50 in 53 minutes and 35 seconds. It read and wrote a variety of file types at 9.3Mbps and 10.6Mbps, respectively, only slightly slower than a USB drive connected to Linksys's Wi-Fi-based. It can simultaneously dole out MP3 music to four clients while sending video to another. The Wi-Fi access point has a reasonable indoor range of 100 feet.
Tritton's WiFi NAS comes with an industry-standard one-year warranty, but it's a step behind the three-year coverage that Linksys, Netgear, and Belkin provide for their networking products. Aside from 24/7 toll-free phone support for as long as you own the product, the company offers an efficient e-mail response system. We were on the phone with tech support within one minute, and we received a reply to our e-mail query within 24 hours. In addition to FAQs and troubleshooting help, the company's Web site has downloadable manuals, software and firmware upgrades, and an excellent online chat option--the people who work it are smart and quick with answers.