|At a Glance|
|Product||Linksys by Cisco Media Hub with LCD (NMH405)|
|Summary||Two-drive SATA NAS with slick user interface focused on media serving.|
|Pros||• Gigabit Ethernet
• Low Power and quiet
• Browser-based photo, music and video players
• Easy remote access
|Cons||• Single user only; can't add users or groups
• No file import or backup for Macs
• Browser-based media players can be finicky; don't support all media types
Cisco has been a key vendor in enterprise environments for many years. And now, Cisco wants to be an integral part of not only your home network, but your home entertainment experience, as well. If there were any doubt at that, Cisco erased that with a number of new introductions at this year’s CES. The new media products are all being marketed under the “Linksys by Cisco” brand. Even the old Linksys web site now reflects the new branding. (www.linksysbycisco.com).
One essential component of a home entertainment network is centralized storage. Cisco introduced three new models of a network storage appliance named Linksys by Cisco Media Hub. The $299.99 entry model NMH305 includes a single 500GB drive and a second drive bay that can be used to expand storage (JBOD mode) or to configure a second drive for RAID 1 fault tolerance. The NMH305 also has 2 USB 2.0 ports for importing data from a flash drive.
The $349.99 mid-range NHM405 model, my review unit, adds a 1.8” 176 X 220 pixel LCD screen and memory card reader that accepts Compact Flash and SD memory cards and memory sticks. The top of the line NMH410, priced at $429.99, is identical to the NMH405, but comes with a single 1.0 TB drive.
The NMH measures a compact 7.80" x 4.37" x 6.61" (198 x 111 x 168 mm). On the front panel (except for the 305) there’s the LCD display that lets you manage many of the device’s functions, a four-way navigation “ring” that surrounds an “OK” key and a power button. Memory card slots and a USB 2.0 port round out the front panel. There is no disk activity indicator.
Figure 1: Media Hub rear view
Figure 1 shows the rear panel consisting of a Gigabit Ethernet port (with link and activity indicators), power port, second USB port, reset switch and a security hole for a cable lock. I should note here that the USB ports don't support USB print serving, nor can they be used in conjunction with a UPS to provide an orderly shutdown in the event of a power outage. Power comes from an external auto voltage sensing “brick” power supply rated at 12 VDC @ 5 Amps.
Figure 2: Top View with panel removed
Figure 2 shows that access to the drive bay is through the top of the Media Hub. You merely push the button on the top and remove the plastic lid, with no tools required. Drives mount on plastic trays, that snap into place—as easy as dropping bread into a toaster.
The NMH405 comes supplied with a single 500GB Western Digital “Green” drive (WD5000AVVS), and the device draws only 13 W. There is no provision to spin down the drives, however.