But while the initial set-up process is very simple, further exploration reveals that the drive’s multimedia capabilities aren’t as extensive as the ‘home media’ name-tag might suggest. It doesn’t have the custom interface of a device such as the Linksys Media Hub that provides preview and playback capabilities within the web browser. For the most part, you just have to browse through the disk’s contents on your desktop and click on files to play them, just as you would with any normal NAS drive or external hard disk.
The browser-based configuration panel keeps things simple
The drive does support the DLNA networking standard, though, and is able to stream files to other DLNA devices, such as an Xbox or PS3. That said, it has been reported that the HMNHD's DLNA support isn't as strong as it might be, though Iomega has said it's looking into the claims.
The HMNHD can also act as an iTunes server, allowing you to play music files stored on the drive through iTunes on your computer. The iTunes Server option is activated by default when you first install the Home Network Drive, allowing the drive to automatically appear in iTunes' ‘Source’ list. However, we were somewhat surprised to discover that it can only stream MP3 files to play within iTunes, and that the AAC files that we copied on to the drive didn’t show up in iTunes at all.
Iomega’s support documents just tell you to convert other audio formats into MP3 – which isn't what you want to read when you’ve just spent 20 minutes copying 16GB of AAC tracks onto the drive.
It’s easy to set up shared folders
You can work around this limitation by telling iTunes to create its own set of library files on the Home Network Drive, rather than on your local computer. However, this means that people using your network can’t just dump an assortment of music files and formats onto the drive and let the iTunes Server play them all for you.
The multimedia features of the drive are pretty limited, and calling it a ‘Home Media Network’ drive merely seems a marketing ploy to make it sound more interesting than ‘Bog Standard NAS Drive’. But, to be fair, if you do treat it as a bog-standard NAS drive then it’s not at all bad. It’s reasonably priced and very easy to set up and use. More experienced users might prefer something more sophisticated, but the Home Media Network Hard Drive will still be a good choice for the les geeky who just want a shared storage space. ®
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OK but bundled software not so hot
I've had one of these for a few weeks. It works fine as a NAS drive. But the bundled Retrospect backup software crashed both the Win XP machines on my LAN. It seems to rely on the drive always getting the same IP address, which did not happen with my DHPC router setup. To stop it trying to run you have to un-install, or delve into the system services.
Also when you boot up a PC on the network, the bundled "Discover" software tries to find the drive and map it to a local disk. So if the drive gets different addresses the result is a load of left-over dud mapped drives.
Mozy internet storage is also bundled (but no special bargain). It also inserts itself as a service and there is no uninstall. Pity, they have obviously tried to make the system easy to use but it is a half-baked attempt.
Asda sell do a LaCie NAS with 500gb with basically the same functionality. So what are Iomega selling? apart from a early naughties chassis and a, (totally in the past and not relevant ), click of death reputation?
Paris - because there is probably a more hard drive innuendo angle to this review.