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Verbatim MediaShare Mini - NAS server review: Verbatim MediaShare Mini - NAS server

Verbatim MediaShare Mini - NAS server

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Dong Ngo
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Dong Ngo SF Labs Manager, Editor / Reviews

CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews 3D printers, networking/storage devices, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.

5 min read

The Verbatim MediaShare Mini is a stripped-down version of the Verbatim MediaShare, with a much smaller physical size, no built-in storage, and significantly slower performance. It's designed to host up to four USB external hard drives and turn them into a quick network storage option, with over-the-Internet media-sharing capability.

Verbatim MediaShare mini - NAS server
6.1

Verbatim MediaShare Mini - NAS server

The Good

The Verbatim MediaShare Mini is compact and affordable. It supports four external hard drives.

The Bad

The MediaShare Mini is a hassle to set up and confusing to use. The device's throughput is comparatively slow, it doesn't support 3TB external hard drives, and it offers a limited number of user accounts out of the box.

The Bottom Line

Designed to quickly turn external hard drives into a home storage network, the MediaShare Mini could use lots of improvement in regard to ease of use. Savvy users, however, will find it a fun device to have.

Though this is a good idea, the MediaShare Mini isn't a good execution of that idea. It's rather cumbersome to set up and use, especially for home users. On top of that, it's slow, especially compared with full-size NAS servers. In our testing, it didn't support 3TB external hard drives, either.

At a street price of just around $50, however, it could be a fun device for those who want to enter the realm of network storage and media streaming and sharing. If you want more features or something that's easier to use, however, we'd also recommend the Synology USB Station 2 or the Iomega iConnect.

Design and setup
Measuring 6.4 inches tall by 6.4 inches wide by 3.5 inches deep and weighing merely 1.2 pounds, the Verbatim MediaShare Mini, as the name suggests, is very compact. It's just about the size of a pack of playing cards, except it's completely square. The device's chassis, like the Verbatim MediaShare's, is made out of aluminum, giving it a stylish look.

On the front of the device are two LEDs that indicate the status of the power and hard-drive activity. There are two USB 2.0 ports on the left side and another two on the back. This means it can host a total of four USB external storage devices, such as external hard drives or thumbdrives. Also on the back, you'll find a Gigabit Ethernet port for hooking it up to a network, an on/off button, and the power connector.

The device comes with a CD that contains software that helps facilitate the setup process, which requires a live Internet connection. We found this process rather painful, as we were forced to register the device with Verbatim to go through it. We were also required to pick a unique name for the NAS server, which had to be unique among all existing NAS servers that use the same Internet-based service from Verbatim. After that, we had to pick a strong password and then enter a valid e-mail address before we could access the NAS server's settings.

This process isn't particularly difficult, but it is rather intrusive and forces you to embrace Verbatim's service before you can use the device. It also seems that you can't set up the device without access to the Internet.

Features
Despite the fact that the MediaShare Mini is about one-sixth the size of the MediaShare, it offers almost the same number of features. In fact, apart from the internal hard drive and features associated with that, which the Mini doesn't have, the other features of the two devices seem exactly the same.

Both of them come with the MediaShare Agent desktop application, which automatically runs each time the computer starts and helps map the server's share folders to the local computer for faster access. You can also use it to view all the server's share folders and launch the NAS server's Web interface.

Technically, however, you can do all of these without using the software. For example, you can get to the server's Web interface by pointing a browser to its IP address, and you can browse for the server's share folder using Windows Explorer and map the share folders manually. On a Mac computer, the server automatically appears in Finder.

The MediaShare Mini's Web interface is responsive when accessed from a local computer. Over the Internet, where the server can be accessed at Verbatim's Web site, the interface's performance depends on the connection. Like the MediaShare's interface, however, it seems oversimplified to the point where it's actually harder to figure out. For example, if you want to turn on media streaming for a share folder, you have to log in to the Web interface, pick "Media Library," then click on a little arrow in the icon of each folder. Now you will be greeted with different commands you can carry out for that folder. This is a rather unusual way to work with a folder, and an inexperienced user might not be able to figure it out. Other aspects of the server's settings are similarly unintuitive.

The MediaShare Mini's way of sharing data is similar to way the Windows operating system handles user profiles. An admin user can add, change, and remove users, and, out of the box, the server allows only five user accounts, a very limited number compared with other NAS servers. For more user accounts, you will need to opt for the premium MediaShare service.

The premium service, which is the main feature of the NAS server, is unfortunately not free but costs $19.99 per year after a one-month free trial. Apart from increasing the number of user accounts to unlimited, the premium service supports accessing and sharing the data stored on the server over the Internet. Depending on the type of data, you can view it as a photo album or play back audio and video files. You can also use the service to integrate social Web sites, such Facebook and Flickr, with the digital content of the NAS server.

The Verbatim MediaShare Mini can handle external hard drives formatted in both FAT32 and NTFS. We tried it with many external hard drives and found out that it won't support drives that are larger than 2.19GB, such as the 3TB Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Desk. Once plugged in, a supported hard drive's content will be immediately shared with all users.

All in all, we found that the Verbatim MediaShare Mini is a fun way to play around with your digital media stored on an external hard drive. For serious data sharing, however, you might want to get a full-featured NAS server, especially considering the device's throughput performance.

Performance
Judging from its size, we didn't expect the MediaShare Mini to blow us away with its performance. And it didn't.

In our write test, the Verbatim scored 57.9Mbps, comparable with the 57.1Mbps scored by the Linksys E4200 router. The MediaShare did better with the read test, registering 197.6Mbps, which is the fastest when compared with routers that have a network storage function. However, this was still slower than the the similarly configured Iomega iConnect.

With this level of performance, expect the MediaShare Mini to do OK with light media streaming. If you want to share lots of data, again, consider a full-size NAS server.

CNET Labs NAS performance scores via wired Gigabit Ethernet connection (in Mbps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Read  
Write  
LG N1T1
387.5 
243.8 
Verbatim MediaShare
435.1 
224.4 
Iomega iConnect
217.5 
84.7 
Apple Time Capsule
114.2 
81.2 
Verbatim MediaShare Mini
197.6 
57.9 
Cisco Linksys E3000
32.2 
57.1 
D-Link DIR-685
76.5 
46.6 
Netgear WNDR3700
40 
17.8 

Service and support
Verbatim backs the MediaShare Mini with a three-year warranty. The company's technical phone support is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET. At the company's Web site, you'll find downloads of the setup guide, manual, and more.

Verbatim MediaShare mini - NAS server
6.1

Verbatim MediaShare Mini - NAS server

Score Breakdown

Setup 5Features 6Performance 6Support 7
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