|Summary||External hard drive supporting USB 2.0 and Ethernet interfaces. Does not function as full NAS device.|
|Update||5/1/2004 - Version 3 driver supports multi user write mode (WinXP / 2000 only). Supports single user write for MacOS X, Linux Red Hat, Win98SE, ME, CE|
|Pros||• Supports both USB and Ethernet connection
• Models from 80 to 160GB
|Cons||• XP and 2000 only
• Limited as a network storage device
USB 2.0 external hard drives are an increasingly popular way to add more storage space in a relatively painless way. And even if your USB port supports only the slower 1.1 standard, you can still use the drives - although transfers will take longer.
Ximeta's NetDrive puts a unique twist into the external USB HDD market by adding an Ethernet port that lets you share the drive on your Ethernet LAN. I found that the NetDrive lived up to Ximeta's claims, but also that Ximeta's NDAS (Network Direct Attached Storage is no substitute for NAS (Network Attached Storage).
The NetDrive comes in a surprisingly large aluminum case about the size of a VHS bulk tape eraser and weighs in at a hefty 3 pounds. So you're not gonna be slipping this puppy into your pocket to haul your files around! My test unit was an 80GB 7200RPM drive (Samsung SP0802N), but 120, and 160GB versions are also available.
There are Power and ACT LEDs on the top rear of the case and the USB, 10/100 Ethernet and 4 pin DIN-style Power connector are lined up on the rear panel. There are also two dipswitches on the rear panel, which must be manually set - and the drive power-cycled - to switch between USB and NDAS mode.
Two nits are that the power connector requires a good deal of force to insert and remove and that the ACT light works only in the NDAS mode. The power connector force is noted in the install procedure, but I still felt that I was going to push in the rear panel in order to get it properly seated.
So what's this NDAS I keep referring to? It stands for Network Direct Attached Storage and is Ximeta's method for attaching a hard drive to an Ethernet LAN without implementing a full-blown server to manage access to the disk. Sounds great in theory, but the implementation won't satisfy buyers looking for features found in NAS products - or at least it didn't satisfy me! However, one plus from the absence of a server is that the NetDrive is very quiet in operation since no fans are used.