NAS (network attached storage) devices fit nicely into that grey area between "why bother" and "pretty useful" in today’s digital-media-centric times. The fact that there are so many around indicates clear demand, yet the more dedicated digital media user would say that you can just leave a computer on and access content from a local hard drive without the extra fuss and bother.
EZY attempts to counter this with the new MyXerver range, and has a fair case for arguing that it may be successful.
Simply put this is an external hard drive presented in a choice of ivory white, "light slate grey" or ebony black and comes in capacities ranging from 500GB to 1TB. There’s a Gigabyte Ethernet connection on the back along with a single USB port and the necessary power connections, but aside from this it adopts a minimalist design in the colour of your choosing
Typically, setup on a network can be a bit of a pain when it comes to NAS units, but a supplied CD and setup wizard makes this a fairly straightforward process. After the device has been connected to an appropriate hub or switch a wizard will walk you through the rest of the set-up procedure, which for most will involve using DHCP to automatically configure IP settings. At this point you can access the networked storage via the configured NAS server and a web browser.
Files can also be dragged and dropped onto the internal drive in the usual way and we were pleased to note that aside from the occasional initialisation spin, the drive is effectively silent during operation, which is a considerable advantage over some other rivals in this market.
Aside from bare-bones networked operation, which may well tie in nicely with other compatible devices such as media streamers you may have installed in the home, the MyXerver can also access bit torrent downloads, stream music from an iTunes library or audio and video from a compatible UPnP devices, as well as being able to broadcast MP3 files. It’ll also act as a print server for your network if need be, so there are some genuinely useful additions here should you wish to use them.
Most of these features can be configured through the web interface where necessary and though initial set-up is quite straightforward; there aren’t a lot of options for local management and beginners who may be a little daunted by this process will need to read up first, due to the lack of any introductory guides to configuration.
EZY doesn’t bring anything revolutionary to the table with the MX3600 but does represent extremely good value for money when considering whether or not to shell out a bit more over a standard external drive for storing media files. At about £80 for 500GB up to £145 for 1TB, this is the point at which the MX3600 starts arguing its case.
Despite the fact that external hard drives (and even rival NAS devices from companies like Freecom) are available for similar or less than that these days, there’s not much in it, and certainly not enough to suggest that a device that quietly goes about is business to offer NAS benefits for digital media users as well as this isn’t worth the extra expense. On this basis it’s difficult not to like the MyXerver for what it can offer and if you’re savvy enough to find your way around the more advanced features it should prove a wise investment.
The MX3600 is priced very reasonably and when the additional features are taken into account it becomes a versatile addition to a home network. Despite the fact that some of the more advanced features are a little tricky to set-up and manage, initial configuration is straightforward and solid, near-silent performance and a sleek design means that it has considerable appeal for those in the market for a capable storage device for media files on a network.