The LinkSys by Cisco MediaHub is a bold attempt to make the usually dull and difficult world of NAS drives both fun and easy.

Cisco certainly seems to have taken the lead with the LinkSys by Cisco MediaHub - a drive that brings some new ideas regarding usability to the table.

We'd like to report that LinkSys by Cisco MediaHub makes the process as simple as A, B, C; but it wasn't quite that straightforward. It's actually an 18-step process and things have to be connected in the right order.

The LinkSys by Cisco MediaHub comes with big visual instructions, and a well designed install program that takes you through all this by the hand. But it's worth it when the router sets itself up and works straight away. You give it a password and a name. You then map a drive to the device (the software gave ours 'Z' by default).

During installation the LinkSys by Cisco MediaHub will also attempt to install a program called NTI Shadow that acts as a backup solution (by default it automatically backs up Windows' Documents folder).

Then comes the process of finding media. It searches through your PC for all pictures, music, and videos and copies them over to the relevant folders inside the LinkSys by Cisco MediaHub.

It's an easy to set-up and use NAS drive. And even if that was all there was to the LinkSys by Cisco MediaHub we'd be mightily impressed. Cisco has also created a Flash-based web interface - called the Media Browser - that doubles up as a means to view media stored on the LinkSys by Cisco MediaHub.

So this acts as a single central location for all your music, movies, and photographs; as well as doubling up for the web-based settings interface that most NAS drives possess.

Creating a Flash-based browser might bring out the chills in some people, but it works surprisingly well. Because Flash can access and play the media, it makes for a good alternative to various media players; and because it enables a slightly more animated interface it makes the Media Browser far more accessible than your average NAS interface. And you can also access this material online, either by getting in touch with your ISP and getting a static IP address; or by using LinkSYS remote access feature (free for first year).

The LinkSys by Cisco MediaHub also sports SD and USB slots, and content from these will automatically uipload to the drive. So if you want to add pictures from your camera, simply take out the SD card and slot it into the MediaHub.

The LinkSys by Cisco MediaHub comes in either single or dual hard drive configurations. If you purchase the single hard drive model you can add a second drive to create a mirrored RAID array. This means that all data is duplicated on both drives; should one fail the other still has all your precious media.

LinkSys by Cisco MediaHub: Specs

  • 500GB NAS hard drive with media server
  • 1.8in LCD display
  • Gigabit Ethernet port
  • one-button power-up
  • DLNA 1.5-certified UPnP device
  • supports three simultaneous HD streams
  • streams to Xbox 360
  • iTunes server support
  • accepts Compact Flash, SD, Memory Stick, xD Picture Card and MMC flash memory cards, spare bay for second 500GB SATA drive
  • RAID/JBod configurations
  • on-demand one-touch backups initiated direct from LCD or PC
  • scheduled and NTI Shadow software for PC backups
  • 198x111x168mm
  • 2.11kg. Media server supports: Audio - M4A, M4B, MP4, 3GP, WAV, OGG, FLAC, AAC, MP2, AC3, MPA, MP1, AIF, ASF. Photo - PNG, TIF, TIFF, BMP, GIF. Video - MP1, MPG, SPTS, MP4, AVI, VOB, DivX, 3GP, VDR, MPE, DVR-MS, Xvid, M1V, M4V, MOV, MPV. Playlists - M3U, M3U8, PLS, WPL
  • 500GB NAS hard drive with media server
  • 1.8in LCD display
  • Gigabit Ethernet port
  • one-button power-up
  • DLNA 1.5-certified UPnP device
  • supports three simultaneous HD streams
  • streams to Xbox 360
  • iTunes server support
  • accepts Compact Flash, SD, Memory Stick, xD Picture Card and MMC flash memory cards, spare bay for second 500GB SATA drive
  • RAID/JBod configurations
  • on-demand one-touch backups initiated direct from LCD or PC
  • scheduled and NTI Shadow software for PC backups
  • 198x111x168mm
  • 2.11kg. Media server supports: Audio - M4A, M4B, MP4, 3GP, WAV, OGG, FLAC, AAC, MP2, AC3, MPA, MP1, AIF, ASF. Photo - PNG, TIF, TIFF, BMP, GIF. Video - MP1, MPG, SPTS, MP4, AVI, VOB, DivX, 3GP, VDR, MPE, DVR-MS, Xvid, M1V, M4V, MOV, MPV. Playlists - M3U, M3U8, PLS, WPL

OUR VERDICT

We were impressed with the LinkSys by Cisco MediaHub. Many of the features it possesses are standard on NAS drives, and we can live without the Flash-interface. But the ease with which it was set up won us over and we're sure that many will love the Media Browser and features such as automatic import from USB card and camera.

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