For my setup, I plugged in an external USB 2.0 drive formatted using the FAT32 file system. (The hard disk in that USB chassis was a Maxtor 120GB, 7200 RPM drive with 8 MB cache.) Although I didn't verify this information, TRENDnet says the TS-U200 also will share files from any USB CD-ROM or USB flash drive with "no limit" on individual or total drive size. And while they don't document this feature, you can attach a USB hub to add even more drives (they've tested four USB drives connected via one of their TU2-400 4 port USB 2.0 hubs).
Using a FAT32 formatted drive allows a drive to service various operating systems such as MacOS, Linux and Windows, all of which can read and write this format. However, one of FAT32's most noticeable downsides is its limit on file sizes. Depending on the system using the format the maximum file size is either two or four gigabytes. This is one way in which the TS-U200 lags behind the NSLU2 in that the latest versions of the NSLU2 firmware support the more modern NTFS file system. NTFS offers better performance and larger file sizes at the expense of portability (native NTFS support is not commonly found in systems other than Windows NT, XP or 2000).
When I powered this unit up, it was completely silent - because the TS-U200 has no moving parts. Initial installation is fairly straightforward except for one little quirk. Instead of acquiring an initial IP address using DHCP, the unit comes up on a predefined address of 192.168.1.2 (a Class C private IP address). This is fine, assuming that this address is within your chosen subnet, and isn't already allocated to some other device. If this isn't a workable address, you'll need to reconfigure your network temporarily, or to create a private network so you can set up this device. For me, it wasn't an issue and the unit came up properly on my network without a hitch.
Like most consumer NAS units on the market, a Web browser handles all basic device configuration tasks. TRENDnet includes Windows-only software to locate the device and spawn a browser for you, but that's optional because you can simply direct your browser to the http://192.168.1.2/ URL yourself. However, a UPnP server also runs on the TS-U200, which allows for discovery by devices supporting this protocol.
The initial login screen (shown in Figure 2) offers two options: "Download Schedule" and "Config". I clicked on the latter button, which led me into setup options for the TS-U200.
Figure 2: Login screen for the TS-U200
A successful login produces a configuration screen that's divided into three parts: "Basic", "Advanced", and "Maintenance". Basic configuration includes options for setting up standard network parameters, setting up "Samba" and establishing date and time on the box. By the way, I found it interesting that the Samba name was used explicitly, since it might be confusing to some users. Samba is an open-source implementation of the SMB file-sharing protocol used natively in Microsoft Windows systems. This menu let me set the "Workgroup Name", the "Server Name" and provide a "Server Description".
The date/time setup screen allowed me to set basic values, but it also let me specify that time should be acquired from a time server. But, it struck me as a curious omission that the screen provided no means for selecting which time server to use (as shown in Figure 2) though it would happily test a default selection.
Figure 3: Setting date/time on the TS-U200
This feature appeared to work, but if this unidentified time server ever goes down, there is no obvious way to change it! This reminded me of a funny story about time servers and consumer hardware. By now, manufacturers should have learned some hard but obvious lessons about hard-coded references to NTP servers!