The 1TB Western Digital My Book World Edition is a handsomely styled, well-ventilated single-drive network storage box - just don't call it NAS...

NAS is a naughty word for some companies, who think such acronyms are too scary for the majority of consumers and therefore not to be uttered out loud. They're probably right.

If you need somewhere safe to store your collected digital media, the key is ease of use and reliability; you don't need to know whether your storage is network attached, or connected via wet string and sealing wax. As long as it ‘just works' so that your pictures, film and music are available wherever you are in the house. Or now, outside of it.

Western Digital's new My Book hard drive storage unit, the World Edition, is attached to your various home computers over a local network... a NAS by any other name. Where the WD My Book World Edition goes that bit further than your regular NAS is in its potentially invaluable backup and remote access options.

The My Book World drive itself is a clean and modern objet d'art, separated from the flock by neat touches such as a white LED vertical strip up its front, which periodically flashes up and down its length like some ghostly lavalamp. A gimmick maybe, but it's as anthropomorphising for cold technology as Apple's now-familiar white sleep lights that gently pulse on and off like a slumbering animal.

Home entertainment news and reviews

We tried a World Edition fitted with a single 1TB hard disk, a 3.5in desktop-type drive. There's also a two-drive version, and thanks to WD's recent bar-raising in disk capacities, a 2TB single-disk version is also offered. On the back of the unit is a single ethernet and a USB 2.0 port; the former to connect to you network, the latter to allow expansion of capacity with an extra USB disk drive.

Physical setup requires you to just plug the unit into your home router with a short supplied network cable, plug in the power adaptor, and press the on switch. Software setup is not much harder - on a Mac, the MBWE will automatically appear in the network share list thanks to Apple's Bonjour networking, while Windows users will need to install the WD Discovery app from CD first.

Once done, you can use a Mac or Windows PC on your home network to gaily drag and drop files to the My Book World Edition's capacious storage, or to play media stored on the drive. And unlike some NAS drives of old, we found transfer speeds through our network were suitable speedy.

NEXT PAGE: Extra features that can make a difference >>

But it's the extra features of this WD unit that turn a regular storage vessel into something potentially more versatile. There's the Anywhere Backup software for Windows or Mac, which allows you to select a backup destination, such as your new My Book World Edition unit, and select your required directories for duplication on the NAS.

These folders then benefit from incremental backups, with real-time monitoring, so that as soon as you make any modifications, the differences will be uploaded to the MBWE.

Remote access of your stored files from outside the home is also possible, with the help of MioNet Web Access. This service normally commands a paid subscription but this is included free of charge with the MBW. There are limitations here, which may limitthe service's usability. You can't transfer files larger than 1GB, nor open a shared folder with more than 1000 files or sub-folders.

Home entertainment news and reviews

There's no official Mac client software yet, although we tried a Mac beta based on Java that works within a web browser to navigate the drive's directories. It's slow and unwieldy, and we couldn't find any way to transfer, rather than just open, a file.

There's also some restrictive DRM built into this system, which makes the sharing of media files with another user impossible.

Unlike some external drives - desktop or NAS - using 3.5in HDDs, the WD remained quiet enough for use in a living environment with little distracting whir or hum. With no cooling fan inside, it relys on passive cooling through vents at the back and top.

And for the enthusiast market, since the MBWE runs Linux it's quite amenable to extra functionality once SSH is enabled to allow you to install packages and tweak settings.

NEXT PAGE: Original PC World review

It also proved easy to configure via browser, with attractive basic- and advanced-mode browser-based configuration pages (the latter mode handles configuring the media-serving portion of the box).

The Western Digital My Book World Edition includes WD Anywhere Backup for continuous backup, and TwonkyMedia from Packet Video to serve up photos, music, and video.

While it streams all media smoothly, we did have one gripe: WD's implementation of the TwonkyMedia configuration pages seemed tacked on and didn't render properly in Firefox (some controls were partially obscured).

Also, considering its mainstream consumer audience, the Western Digital My Book World Edition has numerous deep settings exposed, from MAC addresses to Shoutcast nodes for the open-source Icecast internet radio server (though we found no way to stream internet radio with the My Book World Edition).

Slim, with stylish and contoured design the Western Digital My Book World Edition smoothly streams high-definition video. Its media server does have issues with Firefox, however.

Jon L Jacobi & Melissa J Perenson

PCWorld.com

NEXT PAGE: Our expert verdict >>

Western Digital My Book World Edition 1TB: Specs

  • 1TB network attached storage (NAS)
  • 3.5in HDD
  • gigabit ethernet
  • USB 2.0
  • WD Anywhere Backup software and Anywhere Access service included
  • DLNA certified
  • AES128 encryption
  • ARM926 processor
  • 32MB RAM
  • 173x147x58mm
  • 1.09kg
  • 1TB network attached storage (NAS)
  • 3.5in HDD
  • gigabit ethernet
  • USB 2.0
  • WD Anywhere Backup software and Anywhere Access service included
  • DLNA certified
  • AES128 encryption
  • ARM926 processor
  • 32MB RAM
  • 173x147x58mm
  • 1.09kg

OUR VERDICT

The WD My Book World Edition is a smart and house-friendly solution for storing files on your local network. With the added software and services, it also provides valuable remote access and automatic backup capabilities, even if the remote aspect could benefit from some refining of ease of use.

Find the best price