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Product Tour

The LinkStation Pro Duo, like the LinkStation Pro, ships in a handsome black case. The center of the front panel is adorned with a shiny reflective square, which I assumed might have been the power button. It’s not. It’s decorative, but status LEDs shine through it to indicate power and link/activity.

The troubleshooting section of the 63-page manual that's supplied on CD also contains a chart that correlates LED "flash codes" to specific types of hardware problems.

Rear view

Figure 2: LinkStation Pro Duo Rear Panel

The rear panel of the Pro Duo (Figure 2) has a power switch, a recessed reset button, a gigabit Ethernet port, and a single USB port. Like other LinkStations, the power supply is built in (see slide show), so you merely have to plug in the power cord. There’s no external power "brick" cluttering up your desk, unlike some competing products.

There’s also a manual/automatic power mode switch. When placed in automatic mode, the Pro Duo can put itself into hibernate mode when it detects that the computer running the NAS Navigator utility has been shut down. Restarting NAS Navigator will wake up the Pro Duo. For most cases, you want to leave the switch in "Manual" mode.

On the rear panel, there is only a single USB port, which the instruction manual says can be used either in conjunction with a UPS, or for connecting an external USB drive. Unfortunately, there’s not a list of supported UPSs. However, a call to Buffalo’s Marketing department confirmed that most APC UPSs are supported.

Like the LinkStation Pro, the Duo also doesn’t have a built in print server. The single port also appears to support only a single drive.  As a test, we plugged in a USB hub and connected multiple USB "flash drives."  Only the last drive plugged in was recognized. It’s interesting to note that the LinkStation Live and Pro both have two USB ports to which you can connect multiple drives, or, with the LinkStation Live, use one as a print server. 

On the Inside

While some NAS manufacturers such as Synology and D-Link produce BYOD NAS enclosures, all of Buffalo’s NAS products ship with drives pre-installed, and are ready to use out of the box. Currently, the only model of the Pro Duo is equipped with two Samsung Spinpoint HD501LJ 500 GB SATA drives. 

If you check out the slide show, you’ll see that Buffalo didn’t really break any new ground with the Duo. True, as a two-drive device, it now supports RAID 0 as well as RAID 1. However, the Marvel Orion 88F5182 Media Vault processor (Figure 3) is identical to the one used in both the LinkStation Pro and Live.

LinkStation Pro Duo mainboard
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Figure 3: The main board of the Pro Duo

The Marvel 88E1111 Gigabit Ethernet controller is also the same in all three models. The Pro Duo seems to have only 64 MB of memory, as compared to the 128MB found in both the Live and the Pro. This might help account for its somewhat lackluster performance as compared to the Pro, and, on some tests, the Live.

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