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External Bit Torrent hard drive packs a solid punch

First INQpressions Airlink WMU-6500FS
Thu Jul 26 2007, 20:46

Product: AirLive WMU-6500FS
Website: Product details
System Requirements: Internet browser with HTTPS support
Price: About $100

AFTER ITS ANNOUNCEMENT back in Han(g)over during the annual wurstfest called CeBIT, it took some time for the WMU-6500FS, external hard drive box with an integrated Bit Torrent client - to come to our labs. Now that the device is finally safe in my Croatian INQ dungeon, we could do some on-site testing, followed by an off-site testing from my summer palace.

Opening Pandora's Box
Even though this device comes with the very unimaginative WMU-6500 name - we like to call it the pr0n box. It consists of five parts: front and back plastic cover, central aluminium piece, an internal plastic base, and a PCB that has a mini-PCI adaptor, a slot occupied by Turbo-G Wi-Fi card. Bear in mind that this hard drive can serve both as an AP or a client, which is neat…

P-ATA or S-ATA, this box does not care. PCB hides mini-PCI Wi-Fi card

The on board computer consists of 32-bit RISC processor, 4MB of Flash memory for operating system and 32MB of system RAM. Wireless part supports 802.11g standard, with Turbo-G speeding the connection up to 125 Mbit/s. AirLink claims 48Mbps link can be achieved with no problems, thus enabling 1080p video streaming to more than one independent client.

Looks like every other hard drive box, but there are far more LEDs to show status…

The front of the drive has one long strip of blue LEDs that will give you a status report on happenings inside the hard drive, like whether it's getting enough juice, whether backup is in progress, HDD Read/Write, USB1/USB2 port action and new status LEDs, Reset (Shutdown/Backup).

Backside shows many interesting things...

The back of the box shows a place for a fan, 10/100 Ethernet connector, two USB ports, On/Off switch and of course, slot where to connect power brick. Upper left part is reserved for the antenna connector, which proved to be Achilles' Heel. Most probably, during the transport of this device, the packaging did not eat up all the stress. The aeriel was a bit loose, and the signal fluctuated between very good and excellent for quite some time. This problem was solved with a little bit of tweaking with scissors and clamps. Still, this problem happened to us, so be warned.

Green Downloading
The main thing that this box offers is set of on-line possibilities that do not involve your computer. One of best features are HTTP, FTP and BitTorrent downloads while your computer is switched off (or accessing it remotely, if your network is configured to do so). Operating the integrated download client is simple. Use your internet browser of choice to get to address or torrent search engine of your choice, download the torrent file, (or copy address of the file) and either paste the address into the FTP/HTTP Downloading page or upload the torrent file in the appropriate section.

Just upload the file and you're good to go...

Configuring how much bandwidth you want to give is a breeze...

After that, set network connection limits (if you want to place them), and files will be downloaded into appropriate folder on the external hard drive. This is not all, since the device comes with iTunes server as well. Not all is great, since it cannot serve as HTTP or FTP server - and you have to upload the torrent files manually.

We have placed the device in a location formerly occupied by our Wi-Fi router, and started using this product as an AP for a network of several notebooks and desktops, and with yourself truly being an administrator for the network while located several thousand miles away.

For those wondering why yours truly is downloading GTA2, the answer is rather simple - the software industry likes to pretend that it is an industry. You see, to be recognised as a serious industry, you should do one thing that grownups do - offer guarantees for your products. This especially goes to valuable unusable CDs and DVDs like Windows XP Professional (three retail boxes, no usable media), Office XP (2 boxes, both unusable CDs) or tons of games that I won't be able to install again.

In short
After the initial setup, this device continued to work as AP/Downloader/400GB storage with no problems, just as it was supposed to do. ?

The Good
The price/performance ratio is good, and this device is not your typical plastic hard drive enclosure. Access Point and simple web interface are more than welcomed features. ITunes Server is very useful feature, especially on markets where people are converted into ipodestrians.

The Bad
For true AP/Hub functionality, four port 10/100/1000 connectors would be welcome. Even with only one RJ-45 connector, it would be forgiven if it would support GbE instead of the old Fart Fast Ethernet.

The Ugly
Packaging did not prevent shocks in transport, the aeriel itself is a bit weak at two dBi even without such problems.

Bartender's Report

Reviewed and Tested by Davor Baksa and Theo Valich


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