|Name||NAS unit: Verbatim 3.5-inch Gigabit NAS Hard Drive|
|At a glance:||Not the easiest thing to set up,Great range of functionality,Clunky, ‘taped-together’ interface|
|Summary:||Feature-packed, but somewhat difficult to set up and configure – the tinkerer’s NAS box.|
Looking very much like a basic external hard drive, Verbatim’s Gigabit NAS drive is easy enough to get plugged in. All you've got is a power socket, power button, Ethernet socket and two USB ports for external storage or a printer.
Disappointingly, the installation CD doesn't Auto Run. There’s no central "setup" or "install" program on the disc, either – this makes software setup far more difficult than it should be. I did manage to locate the manual easily, but who wants to read 52 pages before they get going? (Okay, sometimes me, but I'm peculiar like that.)
Buried in that CD is the “Finder” app, which locates Verbatim drives on your network and gives you the IP address (or lets you double-click a drive to open its setup page in the browser). The software doesn’t map any drives for you: you have to either read the manual, or know enough to do that yourself.
Security can be configured through the web interface – it’s an extremely comprehensive system including user accounts, quotas, groups, shares accessible by individuals or groups, and restriction of shares to specific IP addresses or subnets. It requires a good working knowledge of IT security to configure usefully, but gives you very granular control.
The NAS drive can act as a backup device for Windows or Apple Time Machine. Alternatively, Nero BackItUp 4 Essentials is included on the disc. I'm a fan of Nero software in general, but I found BackItUp Essentials rather complex compared to the solutions bundled with other NAS units. When it started warning me about junction points in the folders I was trying to back up, I gave up. I’ll stick with Windows 7 backup, thanks.
Media-wise there’s UPnP AV support, with Twonky Media server. Take note: Twonky does on-the-fly rescaling of video clips down to mobile-friendly resolutions. I was able to view 720p video clips on my phone, downscaled to a more manageable 320 x 240.
PC-less BitTorrent support is provided by TorrentFlux. Provide it the URL of the .torrent file you want to download, and the Verbatim NAS drive will download the file independently of your PC. You can check the status, pause and resume downloads and limit bandwidth from any web browser on your network, from PC to smartphone. If you're the type to torrent movies and music – legitimate, public domain content, of course – this is brilliant: you can set your downloads off, follow their progress on your smartphone or tablet then watch them on your network-connected media player or TV when you're done – all without moving a single file.
Read speeds average an unspectacular 14MBytes/sec, while write speeds average just 17 MBytes/sec. Neither rate peaks much above their average – the drive is consistent in its limited pace.
Overall Verbatim’s NAS is feature-packed, but limited by a clunky, taped-together interface that’s sure to intimidate all but the geekiest of PC geeks.