Pogoplug NAS Device Review
Summary & Conclusion
The Pogoplug represents a curious dichotomy: To some the Pogoplug is a very easy way to set up and use a NAS device, share access with other users, and repurpose an existing USB hard drive. To others, the Pogoplug is a fully-functional Linux PC that can serve a variety of advanced tasks--perhaps limited only by their Linux skills. CloudEngine's attention is primarily focused on users from the first camp; but it is certainly keeping its eyes on what the advanced users are doing with their devices, as there might be lessons to be learned and best practices to be gleaned, which can be rolled up to the larger user base with subsequent firmware updates.
Some of the features that the Pogoplug lacks--but which are frequently available on other NAS devices--are support for adding a USB printer to use as a networked printer and using the device as an iTunes server. Advanced users can add these features, but the rest of us will just have to wait to see if CloudEngines considers adding them at a later date. Another downside to the Pogoplug is that when you grant write access to a guest user, that write access includes too much potential for the user to do irreparable damage to your data. We hope to see modifications to the shared folder access in the near future that provides a more granular approach--the challenge for CloudEngines will be to figure out how to do this without adding complication to a very easy to use product.
If you have an extra or unused USB drive, the Pogoplug can be a reasonably inexpensive way to add a NAS device to your network setup. In fact, as the Pogoplug works with USB hubs, you can network multiple hard drives with a single Pogoplug. If you don't already have a USB drive to use with the Pogoplug, however, then the potential savings virtually disappear--for as little as about $20 more than the Pogoplug's $99 price tag, you can find 500GB NAS devices for sale from a number of online retailers. Presently, the Pogoplug is only available for purchase directly from CloudEngines.
In some ways, the Pogoplug is a work in progress--but not necessarily in a bad way. Its functionality is fairly limited--but for what it can do, it does quite well: It is very easy to set up and use as a NAS device, it is easy to share access with other users, it has a very intuitive Web-based interface, and it can also be accessed via a system's OS and even on an iPhone or iPod touch. In the short time we had the device, we witnessed two firmware updates that improved both performance and functionality; and CloudEngine has already made promises of more to come, such as being able to connect directly with popular file synchronization and photo printing sites. Overall, the Pogoplug's performance was unimpressive, but some of our test results hinted at the potential speed that might be revving under the device's hood. If there was one word we would use to describe our overall experience with the Pogoplug, that word would be "potential."