So what can the PPV2 do? In a nutshell, the basic features supported by the PPV2 is a file-manager that accesses your files through a web browser using either HTTP or the more secure HTTPS protocol. Figure 4 shows my web browser when I navigated into one of my directories full of some recent photos and a couple of my MP3 files.
Figure 4: Pogoplug Photo Directory
In this image, you can see a lot of the capabilities. The main display shows thumbnails of the images in the directory and icons for the MP3s. The menus along the left allow me to view just my multimedia files, or files added in the specified time. The menus along the bottom left allow different displays of the files including list view, small icon view, sorting, etc. You can also see support for uploading files, copying files, creating folders, etc.
Mousing over a file brings up a menu for downloading, renaming or deleting the file. When you click on an MP3 file, a small control window appears allowing you to play, pause, etc. the file. When you click on an image, it pops up in a larger view and gives you the option to start a slideshow of all the images in the directory (Figure 5).
Figure 5: Pogoplug Slideshow
Menus are also present for creating a slide show using arbitrary photos and adding accompanying music. Videos were handled a little bit differently (Figure 6).
Figure 6: Pogoplug Videos
In this view, you can see a directory of my videos, some with accompanying poster art jpeg files and XML metadata files. Note that the PPV2 had trouble with some of my video files as shown with a "broken" icon indicator in this screen. When you mouse over a video, you'll get a short preview in place. And if you click on it, you'll get a bigger preview and it will also get queued up for full transcode to a portable format suitable for displaying on various systems (Figure 7)
Figure 7: Pogoplug Transcoding
Note that the transcoding is done locally on your Pogoplug, not on a high-powered server at pogoplug.com. So large videos will take some time and while the transcode is underway, you'll get lower performance. I found that my full-length movies took around 9 hours each to convert. So if you want to watch your movies through the Pogoplug web interface, make sure to get them transcoded well in advance. The transcoded file will also be written to your drive, so it will eat up some additional space.
As I explored my files, I had to stop a bit and think about how this was really working. I was viewing the files from the drive on my local system, but I was connecting to the external server. No data was being stored on the external server so all data was being transferred from my local system out to the Pogoplug site for access. It appears that when I booted up the box, it initiated a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection back to the external site so the data could be viewed externally from anywhere in the world.
The PPV2 provides a few ways to share your data with others. Figure 8 shows the menu where you can turn on sharing for a specified folder and send out invites to whoever you choose.
Figure 8: Pogoplug Sharing
You have the option of allowing read-only sharing or your external users can have full read/write access. You can also set it up so that external users and Social Media sites get a notification whenever the folder is modified. Figure 9 shows a posting to my extremely boring twitter feed with a link for the data.
Figure 9: Pogoplug Twitter Integration
This feature seemed to work fine. I found that notifications were sent out about 30 minutes after that last update was made to a folder. And what about all those users on the go who want to get to their data? Pogoplug also has access apps for both iPhones and Android devices. Figure 10 shows accessing my data from an iPod Touch.
Figure 10: Pogoplug iPod App
The Android app worked fine as well. While visiting the neighborhood pub ("Honey, I need to go out for work"), I was able to stream a movie from my Pogoplug to my T-Mobile G1 over a 3G network without a hitch. The Android app also allowed me to take a picture and upload it to the server immediately. And when I did, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and email alerts went out to everyone I had previously designated. Nice.
All this remote access is well and good, but when you're in the same room as your Pogoplug, it doesn't make much sense to access it through the external web site. So, Pogoplug also provides support for local access. Drivers for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux can be downloaded from the Pogoplug web site.
The fact that you have to download drivers, is a hint that the device is not using standard network sharing protocols like most (all) other NASes. But once you download and install the drivers, you can use your Pogoplug like a local network share, instead of always going through the browser.