Freecom FSG-3 Storage Gateway
More than your average NAS box
Review Network Attached Storage - NAS for short - has become immensely popular of the last couple of years, especially as hard drive sizes have increased and prices have come down. Consumer-oriented devices have been around for some time now, but most of them have been fairly basic units that you attach to an existing network. The Freecom FSG-3 Storage Gateway is so much more than just such a dumb NAS box...
Just by taking a look at the box you realise that the FSG-3 differs from other NAS products by having an integrated three-port Ethernet router - the fourth port is for the broadband connection. This is great for users of cable modems, but it isn't as useful for someone with ADSL that might already have a router - it's usually quite tricky to set up a router behind another router. The front and the rear of the FSG-3 have each been kitted out with two USB ports, while the rear also has an eSATA connector. This allows for extra storage to be connected as well as a supported USB printer - a full list of compatible units can be found on Freecom's website.
The hardware inside the FSG-3 is impressive. It's powered by a 266MHz Intel XScale ARM9 processor with 64MB of RAM. The 4MB of Flash memory is the home to the FSG-3's Linux operating system. Upgrades for the FSG-3 can be downloaded from a dedicated website which also has a support forum for users. The hard drive in the model on test was 160GB - the smallest version available - but Freecom offers models with up to 500GB of unformatted storage capacity.
The design of the FSG-3 is rather nice, at least in comparison with other NAS boxes. The grey metal casing has rounded corners and a large round power button with a blue backlight. There's a row of status lights on the front alongside a small button labelled unplug, which should be pressed before USB devices are removed. The bottom of the FSG-3 has two large rubber feet and the top has two cut-outs into which other Freecom drives of the FHD-3 series fit, for neat stacking.
Please note that the retail drives have an eSATA connector, not a standard SATA connector as on the picture
Two stands are also supplied in the box, one to stand the FSG-3 on its side and one for mounting it on a wall. You also get a power adaptor and a network cable.