The Iomega Home Media Network Hard Drive is a NAS (network attached storage) drive, available in 500GB and 1TB flavours.
Network attached storage was once the preserve of offices and server environments. Now it's becoming increasingly useful in domestic settings, especially as a means to store video, music and pictures on a home network.
That's the purpose of Iomega's Home Media Network Hard Drive, a modestly sized unit finished in a smart brushed metal sleeve. Inside is a single 3.5in hard disk, of either 500GB or 1TB capacity. It's connected to your home router via ethernet, and is then ready for access by any Windows or Mac computer on the same network.
Like many such NAS drives, the Iomega Home Media Network Hard Drive includes server software for use with common media formats, namely Twonky, iTunes and digital living network alliance (DLNA). Put a folder-full of MP3, AAC, Apple Lossless or WAV files in the drive's Music folder, for example, and they will be available to play by any local computer through Apple iTunes.
The Iomega Home Media Network Hard Drive unit has better than average build quality, a solid-feeling lump that can either sit flat or upright with an included stand. It's noisier that it should be for a lounge or desk siting, though, a combination of the low-frequency vibration of the 7200rpm hard disk and an always-on rear exhaust fan.
Two lights on the side give some idea of operation - white LED showing disk operation, and another that changes in colur to denote remaining capacity. Solid blue means drive is over 70 percent full; solid orange, over 85 percent; and flashing orange for over 95 percent.
Iomega advertises cross-platform support, and a small application is available for Windows and Mac that helps the computer find the Iomega Home Media Network Hard Drive on your network. For Windows this will be necessary to both configure (through a web browser) and then mount the shared volumes. For Macintosh, the drive can be found easily using Apple's built-in Bonjour technology and then set up through Apple Safari.
You'll still need the Iomega Home Storage Manager app, which sits in the menu bar, to help mount the volumes. Note that at time of press an issue had been identified by PCA which was traced to Snow Leopard incompatibiity for this drive.
In our lab tests, we used Intel NAS Performance Toolkit to stress the drive with various file copy and media streaming tasks, a system that tries to replicate real-world use of a NAS drive. This includes streaming video and audio while also copying or backing up other files. Lowest average throughput for HD video playback was 7.7MB/s, rising slightly with 2x and 4x replay.
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