Belkin Home Base
Printers, hard drives etc on your WLAN
In addition to printers, you can hook up other USB kit, including storage devices, which can then be mounted locally. They can also be set as the destination for the built-in automatic back-up software. Inevitably, the initial back-up will take a long time over Wi-Fi, so Belkin has thoughtfully allowed to make the first back-up run with the storage connected directly to your computer.
Time Machine-style over-the-air back-up included
Equally clever: it sticks a copy of the restore utility alongside the back-up ready for use if your computer goes foom.
The other key feature is the automatic posting of pictures to Picasa and/or Flickr, which seems something of a 'because we can' feature. More useful is the DLNA/UPnP media server, which means Home Base has the makings of a basic media Nas if you want to stream video, music and pictures to your TV, phone or computers.
Belkin prices the Home Base at £100, but it can be found online for rather less than that. Whatever the price, whether it's worth paying depends on how much you need it. If you want to share your printer, and your router supports this, you could just move the two devices closer together for free. But if re-arranging your home or office this way isn't possible, £100 may be money well spent if it means you no longer have to put up with others asking if you can print documents out for them.
Belkin's Home Base isn't cheap, but if you find you need the wireless device-sharing functionality it offers, you'll discover it does the job well and makes the set-up process as painless as it's possible to be. It's a niche device, but on a 'does what it says on the tin' basis, we have to give it our thumbs up. ®
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