Design and Build Quality
The Linksys by Cisco Media Hub comes in a short, black chassis, which has a glossy sheen on its front and top, while the sides and back are flat black; the front and top of the device are ringed by a dark gray frame. The glossy portions of the case tend to attract noticeable fingerprints. The most noticeable feature of the Linksys by Cisco Media Hub is its 1.8-inch (176 x 220-pixels, 64K colors) LCD status menu. Below that sits a four-way navigation pad, a blue-lit power button, a CF card slot, an SD/MS/XD card slot, and a USB 2.0 port. The back of the unit includes a Gigabit Ethernet port, another USB 2.0 port, AC adapter jack, a Kensington Lock slot, and a cooling fan vent. The device was very quiet most of the time, even when data was being accessed from the drive; however, it gets momentarily very load as the fan spins up when you first power on the device--luckily the device is meant to stay powered on all of the time.
The top of the Linksys by Cisco Media Hub pops off with the press of a button that releases a latch. Note that while it is possible to open the device's chassis while it is still powered on, it is not a good idea to do so. We appreciate the ease with which you can open the case, but we think that too many curious passerby's--especially children--will be tempted to press the button to see what it does. The only occasions you should need to open the case would be to swap out a drive that has gone bad or to add a second drive to populate the device's second SATA drive bay. Perhaps this goes against design-101 principles and the ease-of-use mentality, but we actually would have preferred the device be more difficult to open.
The SATA drives are attached to a plastic drive tray that easily slides out once you pinch the tabs on either end. It slides back into place just as easily and can only go in one way, ensuring that you don't try to slide the drive in the wrong way--this assumes, of course, that you installed the drive properly into the tray. A small yellow sticker on the tray shows how the drive is supposed to be oriented. Drives attach to the tray via four screw mounts.
The LCD status menu is navigated using the four-way navigation pad directly beneath it. There's not a lot to the menu, it is easy to navigate, and fairly intuitive. However, we found the menu was sometimes sluggish to respond and it's easy to accidentally push the pad in an unintended direction, sending the menu to other than where you wanted it to go, or for it to perform an unintended action.
|LCD status display. |
The menu's primary function is to give you information, such as how much of the Linksys by Cisco Media Hub's drive capacity is used and how much is still available for additional storage. It also reports the drive's usage based on the percentage of music, photos, videos, and other files. There is also a network status window that looks as though it includes chart showing network access over time; the chart is actually just a static graphic and does not report any real information. The purpose of the network status window is let you know what the device's IP address is and to display red or green-colored Internet and LAN access icons to confirm that the device is connected. The settings menu lets you set when the LCD and the LCD's backlight will turn off. The settings menu also reports the installed version of the device's firmware and what the latest available firmware version is; if there is a newer version, it even gives you the option of updating the firmware.
|LCD status display|
The backup menu performs two functions. The first is that it can send a command to all locally networked systems for the systems to automatically perform on-demand backups. Each system needs to have the bundled NTI Shadow backup tool installed and running, and must have backup jobs defined and enabled. Assuming that this is the case, simply pressing the PC Backup button will initiate all enabled systems to begin their respective backups. The second action that the backup menu can do is automatically backup the contents of connected USB media or media cards. If a removable device is connected to the Linksys by Cisco Media Hub, and you choose to backup that device, its entire contents are copied to the backup folder on the Linksys by Cisco Media Hub.
|LCD status display|