Gadget Review : The Hotway Landrive.. (where have you been all my life?)

12 01 2006

In my house there are three computers that are turned on regularly. The main Dell ‘RoadShagger’ which is my workhorse PC, the Tabley, which is my work laptop that tends to be used a fair amount whilst sitting in front of the TV and the Xbox. The latter of which is used to play back video’s, dvd’s and mp3’s via the excellent XBMC. All three of these machines are connected to a network, either via CAT5 or via 802.11g wireless.

All of the media I play is stored on the Dell which has just over 500 gigs of storage, the reason I do this is that I trust the Dell, it gets backed up semi-regularly (when I remember) and it allows me to listen to music whilst nerding 🙂

The problem though is this. If I want to watch something on the xbox I have to have the Dell turned on to serve it.  Not a major problem, unless of course your wife is listening to something on xbmc and you have just let the latest security updates come down over AU and it reboots the machine, or you are using Office 12 and it blue screens on you…. Or you want to dump some files without going through the 2 minute boot up time of XP on the Dell….

Enter my latest purchase, the most excellent Hotway Landrive (http://www.usbex.com/landrive/) . This is an external hard drive enclosure that comes with a USB 2 connection and wait for it, an RJ-45 LAN Connection!! There are a fair few of these Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices coming out, including the SC-101 from Netgear that initially caught my eye. The reason I chose the LanDrive was that it was truely plug and play. The SC-101 needs drivers to be installed on the machine that wants to access it, not a problem if all of your machines are Windows, but a huge problem if one of your machines is an xbox!!

The LanDrive runs some sort of embedded OS that provides a full blown SMB server and FTP Server which can be exposed and most importantly accessed across the whole network. Both are fully configurable, and as you would expect can be setup to request passwords. Setting up the drive is simplicity itself, all settings and parameters can be accessed via a password protected web interface. The drive can be configured to act as a DHCP server, obtain an IP address automatically from another DHCP server on the network or to use a static IP address you supply. The OS also provides rudimentary disk management tools, enabling the hard drive within it to be formatted and scandisk’d as well as allowing a spin down time to be set.

My LanDrive has a 200gig Seagate HD in it which is working a treat. As you would expect it gets a bit warm, but setting the spin down time on the drive ensures that the drive spins down and therefore cools down when it’s not in use. Last night I went to bed after setting it up to copy about 100gigs worth of files from the Dell, this morning I was expecting to have found the drive had melted through the desk and the concrete floor of my house and be on it’s way to the UK. But no, it was sitting there winking it’s blue and purple lights at me whilst remaining as cool as a cucumber.

Now all my machines can access the drive over the network and stream files and I can rest assured that I won’t get a knife thrown at me because playback of Michael Buble was interupted by me crashing the Dell!

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