Pogoplug NAS Device Review

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As you can see from the dearth of configuration options in the screenshot (below) of the Pogoplug's settings options, the device's nearly single-minded focus is on ease of use. The Pogoplug's settings allow you to add additional e-mail address for accessing the device, change your password, rename the Pogoplug and attached drive names, and add additional Pogoplug devices to your account. The settings also show the Pogoplug's firmware version, the file format of the attached drive, and how much of the drive's total storage is available. If you ever need to remove an attached drive from the Pogoplug, you are advised to first eject it via the Pogoplug's settings menu, less you potentially corrupt any files stored on the attached drive.



The Pogoplug's minimalist settings.

Navigating the Pogoplug's contents via the
Web interface.

To access the Pogoplug via a supported Web browser you simply point your browser to the My Pogoplug portal and enter your login credentials. Supported browsers include Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer 7 (and above), Chrome, and Opera. During our testing, Firefox 3.5 was released, and we encountered a few issues where some media types that successfully played back in the previous version of Firefox were no longer playing in the updated Firefox 3.5 Mac client--Safari 4.0 appeared to work fine with the Pogoplug. The Windows version of Firefox 3.5 also appeared to work fine, as did Internet Explorer 8.

When you first login to the My Pogoplug portal, you are taken to a screen that shows you all of the folders on the root of the attached drive. Single-clicking on any of the folder icons, changes the view to the contents of that folder. You can choose to view the folder contents via list view, or as small, medium, or large thumbnails. If the interface recognizes the file type, it will assign a relevant icon to the file, such as an Acrobat icon for PDF files, or a speaker for audio files. Recognized image and video files use a frame from the actual image as its thumbnail.



Playable video files use an image from the file
as a thumbnail; non-playable video files use a
generic video thumbnail.

Audio files.

We found that the Pogoplug's Web interface could play MP3 and AAC audio files; BPM, GIF, JPG, and PNG image files; and H.264-encoded video files. A Pogoplug representative told us that the Web interface should also be able to display TIF image files and play FLV video files, but we didn't have any luck accessing these files types on either our Windows or Mac testbeds, using a variety of browsers.



The Web interface's built-in media player.

Uploading files.

Navigating the Web interface is easy and fairly intuitive. Buttons on the bottom of the page allow you to upload files, create new folders, copy files, and share folders. The copy files feature, lets you copy files from one folder on the Pogoplug to another Pogoplug folder. Sharing folders is as easy as typing in someone's e-mail address. The people you choose to share folders with will receive e-mails with links that take them to the shared folders; those users can then choose to create free Pogoplug accounts, or just continue to access the folder directly from the e-mailed link.



An e-mail invitation inviting a user to
access a shared folder.

Shared access with read-only access (the
Upload, New Folder, etc. buttons on the bottom
of the screen won't work for users with
read-only access.

Users who are granted access to a shared folder can download folders and files, as well as view and listen to supported media types. You can also grant "upload" access to users, which additionally allows users to upload files, create new folders, copy files, rename folders and files, and delete folders and files. We would have liked to see more flexible user rights, such as the option of allowing users to upload files without letting them also have the ability to delete and rename folders and files. Calling this kind of access "upload" is deceiving--in fact, users who have "upload" shared access to a folder can do everything to the folder contents that the main Pogoplug user can do, with the exception of granting shared access to additional users.



Using the Windows app, the Pogoplug appears
as a mapped drive.

Using the Mac app, the Pogoplug appears
as a mounted drive.

Pogoplug users--as well as users who have been given shared access to a folder--can download a small application that will provide access to the Pogoplug (or Pogoplug's shared folders) directly from within the operating system, without needing to launch a browser. The Windows version of the app lets you enter your username and password, and choose to start the app when you login into Windows. If you choose the "Start on login" option, the app automatically maps the Pogoplug as a drive letter. When the Pogoplug app is running, it appears as an icon in the Windows taskbar.

The Mac client works similarly; however, on both our iMac and MacBook Pro testbeds, the app would not automatically mount the Pogoplug volume. The app launched on login and placed an icon on the Mac menubar, but we still had to manually login to the Pogoplug via the app's preferences in order to make the Pogoplug appear as a mounted volume. Once the app mounts the Pogoplug volume, a Pogoplug icon also appears on the desktop, which acts as a shortcut to a Finder window for the drive.




The Pogplug iPhone app is free.

With the iPhone app you can
browse the Pogoplug.

Navigating the Pogoplug with
the iPhone app is intuitive.

CloudEngines also has a free iPhone app that let's you access the Pogoplug. Not only can you can browse the contents of the Pogoplug, but you can also listen to audio files (AAC and MP3), view images (GIF, JPG, and PNG), and even watch videos (H.264). The app worked great on our first-generation iPod touch, but there was one feature of the app we really couldn't take advantage of without having an actual iPhone--and that is the ability to upload photos from an iPhone directly to the Pogoplug.

The Web interface, system apps, and iPhone app can be used by Pogoplug users as well as by users who have been granted shared access to a Pogoplug's folders. All three means of accessing the Pogoplug function the same whether you are accessing the Pogoplug over your local network, or remotely over the Internet.

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