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7/7/2008: RAM size corrected

Front view

At a Glance
Product Buffalo LinkStation Mini (LS-WS1.0TGL/R1)
Summary Very small, expensive, dual drive SATA NAS with support for RAID 0, 1. Available in 500GB and 1 TB models
Pros • Gigabit LAN with jumbo frame support
• No fan, very quiet
• Superset of LinkStation family features
Cons • Expensive
• Single USB port
• No logging
• Serviceability

Take a Buffalo LinkStation Pro Duo, shrink it by using 2.5" notebook drives into a palm-sized format, add media and USB print servers, improve the performance and double the price. And there, in a nutshell, is Buffalo's LinkStation Mini.

Feature Summary

Since, other than its size, the Mini breaks no new ground for Buffalo NASes, I won't be spending much time on the feature set. The Comparison Chart below (Figure 1) will let you match it up against its other LinkStation siblings. (I had to do some editing on this chart, since the one up on Buffalo's website doesn't properly reflect all the Mini's features.)

LinkStation Family Feature Comparison
Click to enlarge image

Figure 1: LinkStation Family Feature Comparison

I have gathered most of the key admin screens with descriptions into the slideshow. And you can go into more detail by reading through the Pro Duo, Pro and Live reviews.

But a quick glance at the chart shows that the Mini is actually the most full-featured of all the LinkStations. So perhaps Buffalo is rethinking its separate "Pro" and "Live" product line approach.

There are a few things worthy of note in the feature department:

  • iTunes and PCast servers - It appears that Buffalo has integrated Packet Video's PVConnect server, which is based on TwonkyVision's server (Packet Video acquired TwonkyVision in 2006). According to this PVConnect page: "PVConnect works with hundreds of Universal Plug-and-Play (UPnP) devices, and also adapts to non-DLNA devices such as Xbox 360™ and Sony PlayStation® Portable. PVConnect also integrates with popular services such as iTunes®".
    I tested the iTunes compatibility and found that the Mini did, in fact, appear in the iTunes browser.
    The older, Buffalo-proprietary "PCast" server is not integrated into the Mini.

  • The Feature button at the top front of the Mini currently does nothing. According to Buffalo the button is for " future feature additions that will be delivered via firmware update".

  • RAID 1 error handling - The main reason that you use RAID 1 is so that your data stays available in the event one of the two drives goes belly up. But the Mini defaults to automatically shutting down when a disk error is detected!
    Since I couldn't open the drive to force a failure, I didn't get to test this feature or whether disabling it really did work. But I find it a very odd choice for a RAID 1 product!

  • There are still no logs to be found and there is no secure HTTPS admin access.

  • Although there is only one USB 2.0 port, you can attach a hub to add both a USB printer and external storage. I found that only one external USB flash drive would be recognized, however.

Inside Details

7/7/2008: RAM size corrected

The "Cons" in the At a Glance box up above include "Serviceability", which means, in part, that I couldn't get the little sucker opened up to take my usual inside shots! So I had to resort to guesses and this thread over at NAS's Buffalo forum for the following component information.

Basically, the design is similar to the Buffalo Duo's, using a Marvell Orion processor and 128 MB of RAM. Drives in the 1 TB model are two 500 GB Hitachi Travelstar 5K500 (HTS545050KTA300) 2.5" SATA 8MB 5400RPM, which are XFS formatted.

The Mini draws 10W and is virtually silent in operation. The only power down feature supported is an "Auto" mode that requires Buffalo's NAS Navigator client to be running on a Windows PC. When the Off / On / Auto switch on the Mini is set to Auto, it will power down when the PC running the NAS Navigator client is shut off.

Check out the slideshow See the slideshow for an admin interface tour

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