Some of us can't function in the morning without a coffee while some of us find ourselves standing out the front of the office having a cigarette every five minutes. Some of us, on the other hand, find ourselves one week into our broadband pay period shaped and unable to surf the Web. This is the worst addiction of all -- the chronic downloader.
- Network attached for shared storage; FTP, HTTP and BitTorrent clients built-in; wireless and LAN access; works as an access point too; supports IDe and SATA hard drives
- A bit fiddly when installing the hard drive, only supports Wi-Fi 802.11b/g but not 802.11a/n
If you're a compulsive downloader, the need for an external storage solution is probably already there, so why not take the extra functionality and give your PC a break from those long, all-night downloading hauls. The AirLive WMU-6500FS is conceptually simple but makes a lot of sense and there's little to complain about.
Price$ 219.95 (AUD)
For such an addict there is only one external enclosure to get, the AirLive WMU-6500FS, an external, network attached storage (NAS) drive enclosure, which also functions as an access point (802.11b/g) and an FTP, HTTP and BitTorrent client that works independent of your PC, allowing you to turn off the computer and continue downloading. This will save electricity, but it may help you sleep better, too, without the humming and heat of your PC all night.
The enclosure is designed for both IDE and SATA 3.5in drives but it doesn't include a hard drive, so you'll need to factor that into the cost. Fitting a hard drive into the enclosure is fairly simple in theory, but a little fiddly in reality. Although we have to commend the AirLive for supporting both IDE and SATA drives, the double-up of internal cables makes it harder to get a drive screwed-in and the enclosure shut. Fortunately once that's done it's done.
Setting up the AirLive is fairly easy. Once the drive is installed and you've connected it to a PC or router you can either install the bundled software, which is light and simple to use, or you can use the Web-based setup screen. We had mixed success accessing the Web-IP of the AirLive but the software is just as easy to use, if not more so.
If a DHCP server is present the IP address will be dealt with automatically, otherwise you can set it manually as needed. You can set the wireless up as an access point, as a client (connecting to an existing wireless network), or daisy-chain it with other access points. Configuring the hard drive is just as easy. An fdisk utility is present in the software, allowing you to partition your disk into multiple drives if necessary and access rights for sharing data can be allocated as guest or as authorised only. Guest simply allows anyone access while authorisation mode means only authorised users can access the data on the drive.
Downloading FTP, HTTP or BitTorrent files is extremely straightforward. For FTP and HTTP you simply paste the link into the appropriate field in the AirLive software, and off it goes. Torrents work much the same way it would with any other software client. Simply find the torrent file you wish to download and upload it to the AirLive software. The AirLive will take it from there. Any files in the jobs list (such as those you're downloading) will also be available to upload. You can allocate the amount of bandwidth for uploads and downloads (you can set it to zero if you want to stop activity), but the AirLive will continue on whether you're paying attention or not, so don't forget what's in the job list or you may find yourself shaped faster than ever.
There are two USB ports on the drive, which will recognise UPnP devices like some MP3 players or media card readers, allowing you to share them also. There is even an iTunes server. A backup button on the front of the device copies data from a USB drive directly to the hard drive, though it won't do the reverse at the touch of a button, you'll have to back this drive up manually.
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