|At a Glance|
|Product||Cloud Engines Pogoplug V2 (P500-1000)|
|Summary||BYOD USB Drive NAS Designed for Internet Sharing|
|Pros||• Very easy setup
• Social Media Integration
• iPhone and Android support
• Low power consumption
•No eSATA support
If you've ever wanted to share a bunch of files from your home network over the Internet, you know setup can be a bit of pain consisting of poking holes in your firewall, standing up a server, generating accounts, etc. Most people give up and either email a few files around or upload some of the files to a server at their ISP.
But if you're a mobile packrat like me and want to get at all your data, even when half way around the world, you're stuck with all the pain of setting up and configuring an Internet accessible server for sharing your data. And to make matters worse, if you get the server configuration wrong, all your data could be exposed to hackers, search engines and polite Nigerian bankers needing assistance with getting funds transferred out of the country. There has to be a better way.
In this review, I'll check out the Pogoplug V2, the second version of a little Bring-Your-Own-Disk (BYOD) Network Attached Storage (NAS) product from Cloud Engines that takes care of all these sharing details for you. And according to the press-kit that came with my review unit, the whole process from plugging it in to getting your data shared on the Internet can be done before the included bag of microwave popcorn is popped.
As you can see in the photo above, the styling of the device is quite a different from your standard black or grey NAS. It has a bright, bright pink color that might make you think you've stumbled onto a box from the Pink Ribbon Shop. But no, this little pink box is the new Pogoplug.
Along with the pink accents, Version 2 of the Pogoplug increases the number of USB ports to four from one and brings a brand-new form-factor as compared to the original version of the product, which followed the standard Plug Computer format.
Figure 1 shows the back of the Pogoplug, where you can see the Gigabit Ethernet port, along with a power connector and three of the USB ports (the other is on the front panel).
Figure 1: Pogoplug Back Panel
The USB ports are used to connect external drives, with a wide range of formats supported: NTFS, FAT32, Mac OS Extended Journaled and non-Journaled (HFS+), and EXT2 EXT3. Both the top and the bottom of the box are vented for cooling purposes and there's no fan. So it runs silently and draws about 4 W in use.
So, how about that popcorn challenge? Can you really get the PPV2 online and shared before the popcorn is done? I'm game for a race. My microwave usually takes about two minutes for a bag of popcorn, so I put it in and started in on the Pogoplug. There are only five steps in the manual to getting it online, and the first three were just plugging it in, hooking it to the router and plugging in your drives. The fourth step (Figure 2) was verifying that the PPV2 had a good network connection.
Figure 2: Pogoplug Setup
If I wanted to beat that bag of popcorn, this step could cause me trouble. According to the instructions, I was supposed to verify that the "top light" was green. But if you look back at the image of the front panel, there's only a USB port and a little transparent logo that might be recognized as a light in a dark room, but I couldn't see anything lit up on it.
Assuming that these instructions were left over from the original model, I just moved on—not wanting to get beat by that now-popping popcorn. The final step in the setup was to create an account and log in to the my.pogoplug.com web site for registration. This step was supposed to include typing in the unique registration code for my PPV2, but in my case, the Pogoplug was recognized (Figure 3) without having to enter any registration code (probably from having been previously used by Tim to run the performance tests).
Figure 3: Pogoplug Setup Complete
So, I was really online and I just beat out the popcorn. Two minutes to set up a new NAS and get my data online. Score one for the Pogoplug! But now the marketing gimmick fell apart, as I had to halt my progress and stop and eat the popcorn!
This setup process differed quite a bit from most NASes that I've seen. Typical NAS setup involves pointing your web browser to a server running on the NAS, where you'll configure networking, user accounts, sharing protocols, etc.
For the PPV2, there was none of that. Everything in the initial setup was automatic and done thorough an Internet web site instead of by connecting directly to the device itself. When I tried to connect my browser to the device, I found that it wasn't even running a local web server. That's pretty much a first among the NASes I've tested.