Hard drives are good for backup, but they are also good for sharing content around your home on the plethora of PCs and Macs you've probably got. Unless you've stumped for Apple's Time Capsule, Western Digital believes it has the answer with the 1TB My Book World Edition Network Home Drive.
The hard drive is called My Book for a very good reason: it looks like a book. The glossy white casing wraps around the drive like a cover of a book, while the white venting top, bottom and rear is designed to look like the pages. Completing the look, the indicator light, which tells you how full your drive is, is on the spine as if it were the title. The design is very clever, very minimal and very smart. It's not your average grey/beige box you need to hide.
The design also helps with space on your desk or bookshelf. Because it looks like a book you'll be pleased to know it takes up as much space as one. It's not a thin short story more Harry Potter's last outing, but it's still small - especially when you consider it packs up to 1TB of space within it.
Around the back the connections are as minimal as the design. There is the "all important" Ethernet, USB socket, power adapter and Kensington lock slot so you can attach it to your desk. Western Digital is clearly keen to keep it simple although a Wi-Fi connection would have been even better saving you from having to place this near your router.
Once you've connected the drive to your network it is visible for all connected to see and the drive comes pre-formatted to be read for both PC and Mac users.
Besides coming with UPnP support for connecting to your network to be read by your PC or Mac, the drive also comes with DLNA support so you can stream content to devices such as PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, wireless digital picture frames, and Samsung mobile phones making this a far more useful proposition to just backing up your computer.
Those interested in backup can do so on both the Mac and the PC in the guise of WD's Anywhere backup solution (powered by Memeo). Once installed the software allows you to automatically backup elements of your computer to the drive when connected. You're able to choose folders, or as the software calls it "SmartPicks", such as all "Files from Home Folder" or just your "Address Book". There is nothing stopping you from backing up everything.
Backup is done over the air and you can set-up multiple backups from multiple computers all saving to the same drive.
Restoring a file is as easy as clicking on it and the benefit here is that you can do it over the air without the worry having to buy a Time Capsule from Apple. Yes, you can make this drive work with Time Machine, but only with some coding workaround. We like the ability to backup just specific folders either way.
PC users get their own array of software, including a PC version of the backup software, MioNet Remote Access, and WD Discovery Software. MioNet is a paid for service that allows you to access files remotely as long as you've got a connection to the web. You can access all your folders and files, however it will cost you $80 a year for the privilege.
Speed and performance was good. As with any network drive it is hard to tell how it will perform over your own network as these things tend to vary based on whether you are connecting via wires or wireless. That said, we experienced good enough transfer rates over our own network not to warrant worry on this side of things.
Small but powerful, the Western Digital MyBook World Edition Network Hard Drive does what it sets out to do - allow you to access your files around the house with little bother or hassle on a wide range of devices not just your computer.
We especially like the fact that it comes with an easy-to-use backup solution for both Mac and PC and the DLNA support means you can share media with plenty of devices including your phone and maybe even your TV.