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Iomega iConnect Wireless Data Station

At a Glance
Product Iomega iConnect Wireless Data Station (34779)
Summary Marvell Kirkwood-based USB drive to NAS converter with media serving, Torrent downloading and more
Pros • Reads about as fast as USB 2.0 will go
• Very flexible backup features including to/from networked shares
• Apple Time Machine support
• Torrent downloader
Cons • Limited wireless controls
• No wireless link / activity light

Devices that take USB hard and flash drives and share them on your network seem to be the current craze. We've looked at products from Ctera [CTERA CloudPlug Reviewed], Cloud Engines [Cloud Engines Pogoplug V2 Reviewed] and Seagate [Seagate FreeAgent Dockstar Reviewed], with each one providing its own twist on what can be a simple product.

Iomega apparently thinks that this trend has legs and has jumped in with its iConnect offering that throws the magic word "wireless" into the fray. Even though wireless is a lousy way to connect to networked storage (even 802.11n connections will prevent you from getting the maximum available speed from most of today's NASes, the iConnect included), the iConnect has plenty of other reasons to make it worth your consideration as an entry-level network storage option.

Figure 1 shows the front of the iConnect, with all callouts explained in the larger image. The lights above each port probably could have been omitted and not missed, since they don't blink to show drive activity, but only to show a drive error. The button is there to initiate a "Quick Transfer" of copies between devices that you can set up in the web admin interface.

Front Panel
Click to enlarge image

Figure 1: Front Panel

The rear panel shot in Figure 2 shows the 10/100/1000 Ethernet LAN connector that will be your fastest way to share connected drives. The wireless antenna is internal, which you'll see in a minute.

Back Panel
Click to enlarge image

Figure 2: Back Panel

Internal Details

Figure 3 shows the iConnect's board, which is based on Marvell's 88F6281 "Kirkwood" clocked at 1 GHz, supported by 256 MB of RAM and 512 MB of flash. A Marvell 88E81116R provides the Gigabit Ethernet port and an Alcor AU6256 USB 2.0 hub supports the four ports. Note that jumbo frames are not supported.

iConnect board top
Click to enlarge image

Figure 3: iConnect board top

Figure 4 shows detail for the wireless card mounted on the bottom of the board and the antenna, which is secured to the top cover via tape and a strong adhesive. The card is a SparkLan WPER-116GN mini PCIe single stream 802.11n adapter, using a Ralink RT3090 chipset.

ix4-200d Front Panel
Click to enlarge image

Figure 4: ix4-200d drive bay

Single stream N operation means that it will connect at a maximum 65 Mbps link rate if your N router is set to its proper 20 MHz bandwidth default for the 2.4 GHz band and 130 Mbps if you're using 40 MHz bandwidth mode. It should also work fine with older 802.11G routers.

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