SAN FRANCISCO, 4 May 2010- So you have all this USB storage lying around and you wish you could just put it in some out of the way spot and access it across your home network. For a very reasonable $100, Iomegas iConnect will let you do that and more, with up to four drives.
Considering the price, I was expecting the iConnect to be a dumb USB 2.0-to-Ethernet converter. Instead, I found its basically a NAS box without drive bays. It sports a DLNA-certified UPnP media server to stream music and video across the network, handles bit torrents, and even allows you to attach printers and cameras to any of its four USB ports. Theres no RAID, but thats understandable on a device that relies on removable storage.
The iConnect offers wireless connectivity, but its disabled by default so you must initially connect via the gigabit Ethernet port to enable it. You may connect to the unit and configure it via IP address and a browser, or by installing client software that will discover the box for you. Either way, you wind up at the same visually appealing and easy-to-navigate HTML configuration pages.
Configuring the iConnect was easy, though not entirely without incident. The unit would not connect to my Linksys WRT350N router using WPA personal security; however, switching the router to WPA2 fixed that problem. I also had to manually forward the 21 (FTP) and 443 (HTTP) ports to the iConnect to enable remote access.
Once configured, the iConnect worked perfectly, although reboots were often required after configuration changes. I attached several USB drives and it found them immediately. The client software will map the drives for you, or you may map them as network drives on your own if you forego the software as I did. My Samsung ML-1450 printer was found and installed, though this required having USB storage attached (presumably for print spooling) and a reboot after attaching said storage. Note: I found no power saving settings for the unit that would allow you to power down drives to save energy.
When connected to a MacBook Pro using Mac OS X, media files were detected through iTunes and they could be played without difficulty when the UPnP server was enabled. The security settings on the device before the iConnects connected storage was detectable, however.
On a PC, I used Windows 7 and Media Player 11 to test the UPnP server, which worked perfectly. Streaming across my admittedly very fast gigabit network was perfect, even with 1080 video. The unit also automatically transferred files from my digital camera when I attached it to the unit. This behavior is optional and configured under the Media Services tab.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.