Linksys by Cisco Media Hub
With the wide variety of network storage device offerings hitting the market, you'd think that this was the year of the NAS (network-attached storage) device. Considering how many people need or want a central location--a "hub" of sorts--to store their media and other files, share these files with other people, and access this data remotely, the NAS device has finally become mainstream...It's no longer just how powerful is your PC or how fast is your broadband connection; but now it's also how much data can you store on your home network.
Of course, not everyone actually needs a NAS device. But if you have a large or growing collection of digital photos, videos, and music, and want to share this media with other users in your household--or perhaps you want to consolidate all the media from different users and systems to a single source--then you can benefit from a NAS device. Add in automatic backups of all locally-networked PCs and remote access to the device over the Internet and you have the Linksys by Cisco Media Hub device.
The Linksys by Cisco Media Hub comes in three different versions. The NMH305 comes with 500GB of storage that can be user-upgraded to 1TB, and it sells for $299.99 (MSRP). The NMH405 also has 500GB of storage that can be user-upgraded to 1TB; but it also includes a color LCD status window, a media-card-reader, and sells for $349.99. Finally, the NMH410 has the same features as the NMH405, but it comes with a full 1TB of storage and sells for $429.99. We evaluated the 500GB NMH405.
Media streaming support:
Network protocols supported:
Audio formats supported:
Playlist formats supported:
Video formats supported:
Photo formats supported:
|500GB; upgradable to 1TB|
Two drive bays total; one populated
500GB WD Caviar Green, SATA 3Gb/Sec, 16MB cache
RAID 0 (linear) and RAID 1 (mirror) supported; need two drives installed to use RAID
10/100/1000 RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet port; (2) USB 2.0 ports; CF/MD/MS/SD/XD/MMC memory card slots
DLNA 1.5 certified; Xbox 360; UPnP DMA devices; iTunes server
SMB/CIF; FTP; DDNS
M4A; M4B; MP4; 3GP; WAV; OGG; FLAC; AAC; MP2; AC3; MPA; MP1; AIF; ASF
M3U; M3U8; PLS; WPL
MP1; MPG; SPTS; MP4; AVI; VOB; DivX; 3GP; VDR; MPE; DVR-MS; Xvid; M1V; M4V; MOV; MPV
PNG; TIF; TIFF; BMP; GIF
7.80 x 4.37 x 6.61-inches (HWD)
Media Hub with LCD; setup CD-ROM; printed Quick Installation Guide; Ethernet network cable; power adapter with power cord
If you examine the specs above, you might notice that the Linksys by Cisco Media Hub doesn't appear to be that different from many other NAS devices. This might be true of the device's specifications, but the Linksys by Cisco Media Hub offers a rather unique feature, and that is its Web-based interface, called the Media Browser, for streaming media to locally-networked and remote devices. The Media Browser interface is designed to be user friendly and make accessing, viewing, and listening to your media a very simple process. Unfortunately, we ran into a number of problems and limitations with the Media Browser along the way that significantly diminished the value this unique feature is meant to offer… But more on that later...