The FlexNet was easy to open once I peeled off the two bottom labels and depressed two plastic latches. Figure 3 shows the inside, which is dominated by the 500 GB Western Digital Caviar Blue drive (WD5000AAKS, 3 Gb/s, 16 MB Cache, 7200 RPM) sitting in a bracket to which the small board is also attached. The FlexNet also comes in 640 GB and 1 TB flavors.
Figure 3: FlexNet internal assembly view
Figure 4 is the backside of the drive / board assembly removed from the case and flipped over.
Figure 4: FlexNet assembly removed from case and flipped over
Figure 5 is a closeup of the board, which is based on an RDC S2891 (or R2980LCF0G, I could find neither referenced on RDC's website). An IC+ IP101A provides the 10/100 Ethernet port and there is 1 MB of flash and 8 MB of RAM.
Figure 5: FlexNet board
The drive interface is kind of interesting since it includes both an ITE IT8211F ATA 133 IDE controller and JMicron JM20330 Serial ATA 1.5 Gbps bridge. The use of the IDE-based controller must be due to the Prolific PL-2506, which is a USB / IDE bridge. Since the FlexNet has to support direct attachment, the drive format is FAT32.
The multiple controllers might account for the FlexNet's low throughput when connected across the LAN. On the other hand, other products that I've tested that are based on RDC controllers (Trendnet TS-I300, Linksys NAS200) haven't exactly had blisteringly fast performance, either.
Buffalo includes a setup utility on the FlexNet's CD. But, as usual, I ignored it and just plugged it in. After waiting for the FlexNet to grab IP info from my LAN DHCP server, I just browsed My Network Places to look for a share and found one, aptly named "Share". I then opened a command window, ran an "arp -a" and found its IP address, which I entered into my browser.
Figure 6 shows the Home screen, which didn't require a login. In the name of simplicity, Buffalo ships the FlexNet with no admin password and an open-to-all default share.