There are countless trends competing for attention in the gaming notebook and laptop space but not all of them are either useful or benefit the core gaming experience.
D-Link Australia DNS-323
- Two drive bays, iTunes server, print server, metal case
- Hard drive partition sizes can't be customised unless a RAID mode is used, release levers and front panel aren't lockable, iTunes server had to be restarted every time we added new files
For storing masses of music and video files, the DNS-323 is ideal. It's relatively easy to set-up and use and we love its iTunes server feature, which means that any iTunes library from any computer can access the same music.
Price$ 399.00 (AUD)
The DNS-323 is a two-drive network storage enclosure (it doesn't come with any hard drives, users can install their own) that's relatively easy to set up and use. It doesn't have an extensive feature-set, but it's well-suited to the average home network and small office.
It's the perfect repository for large video files and music and it has a gigabit Ethernet interface to speed up file transfers on a gigabit-capable LAN. However, it was slightly slow on our gigabit-capable Ethernet network, as we achieved a file transfer rate of only 13MBps when copying files from our test PC to the D-Link.
Two 3.5in SATA hard drive bays can be exposed by popping off the front panel of the enclosure, and they allow for up to 2TB of storage to be installed. Indeed, we used two 1TB Hitachi Deskstar drives in our tests, which the enclosure detected and promptly formatted. To format the drives, we had to log in to the DNS-323 using its Web page interface, from where we were able to select the drive set up.
The DNS-323 can set up both drives individually, or it can stripe them (RAID 0), or it can mirror them (RAID 1). RAID 1 is the best method for keeping your data safe, should one hard drive fail, and faulty drives can be easily removed by pulling on the lever at the rear of the enclosure. Upon selecting the type of setup, the format procedure will commence. Unfortunately, when using individual disks, the setup doesn't allow for partitions to be created, so only large, single partitions can be used. Partition sizes can be customised when RAID is used.
After the drives have been set-up and formatted, and a user account has been created, the detection utility, which ships with the enclosure, makes it very easy to map the network drive (or drives) to each computer on the network. Network drives will show up in Windows Explorer, where files can be transferred to and from the device. Office users may wish to set up group accounts and individual user accounts, as well as disk quota limits, and this can all be easily accomplished through the Web interface.
Home users will love the iTunes server feature, which allows the DNS-323 to be the central storage and play point for all music. If the iTunes server is enabled, the DNS-323 will show up in the left-hand pane as a 'shared' device and, when clicked, it will display all the music that's located on it. Users can select the folders where music is stored on the DNS-323, or simply use the 'root' setting, which shares all music files on the drive. This worked well in our tests, except that we had to re-enable the server each time we added new music in order to find it in the iTunes library.
The universal plug-and-play (UPnP) AV feature is also supported by the DNS-323, which allows some media streaming devices (such as Netgear's EVA8000) to detect and play any media that's located on it. With UPnP-capable media streamer attached to a TV, and the DNS-323, a PC doesn't even have to be switched on in order to listen to music or watch video files.
Office and home users will appreciate the built-in printer server function, which allows a USB printer to be shared over a LAN, while advanced users will be able to make use of the built-in FTP server function for distributing files to remote locations.
Physically, the DNS-323 has a firm, metal body with plastic ends. It's a compact size with a small cooling fan at its rear, so it won't take up too much space on a desk. We do wish the front panel and hard drive removal levers had some sort of locking mechanism, so that the drives couldn't be easily removed.
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