Specifications: 1.2GHz ARM CPU with 256MB RAM plus 512MB Flash storage, 4 x USB2 ports, 1 x 10/100/1000Mbps Ethernet port, integrated DC power supply
Supported Filesystems: NTFS, FAT32, Mac OS Extended Journaled and non-Journaled (HFS+), EXT-2/EXT-3
Supported Browsers: Safari, Firefox 3, IE7, IE8, Chrome
Supported AV File Formats: H.264, MP4, AVI with motion JPEG, MP3
STORING YOUR DATA in that wispy entity called 'the cloud' may be convenient but in the end you're trusting your files to someone else's servers. Add to that the fact that uploading gigabytes of files is no fun at all over a standard broadband connection, and you start to think that there must be a better way to do things. Sharing with multiple friends or colleagues soon becomes messy.
Enter Pogoplug, a Linux-powered file server appliance in a user-friendly package that needs pretty well zero technical knowledge to use. The idea is simple; plug in any USB storage device and its contents become directly accessible from any web browser.
This second-generation model - the first wasn't sold in the UK - has undergone a radical facelift and is now dressed in shocking pink and white. At the back are three USB ports and a Gigabit Ethernet port, with another USB port on the faceplate above the combined logo and status light.
Intitial setup is done painlessly via a special website, then you're presented with your personal My Pogoplug website (available in either HTTP or secure HTTPS versions) which is where things get very interesting. Not only can you send anyone an email link to a drive or folder - but not individual files - but there also many other trendy ways to share: you can create a public access URL; publish an RSS feed to a web-enabled digital photo frame, for example; auto-publish new file links to social networking sites - Twitter, Facebook and MySpace; and even automatically email users when new files are added. Recipients don't need to authenticate themselves or have an account - the shares just pop up in a browser window. Read and write permissions can be set for each user.
Previews for supported multimedia files are created automatically - there's a media player built into the web UI. You can create slideshows from within the interface, complete with the full range of sharing options.
Once you've bought the Pogoplug, that's it, no fees, no begging for extra storage limits, if you want more, just plug in a bigger drive. Data transfers are managed via Pogoplug's servers (nothing is stored there), so users have no direct access to your Pogoplug. And if you're really paranoid, you can just unplug the drive when it's not in use.
A small optional desktop app is provided for Windows, Mac and Linux that maps Pogoplug drives and lets you monitor local folders and copy changes to the Pogoplug. There are also mobile apps for Iphone, Blackberry and Palm, with Symbian and Android apps in the pipeline.
Developers are encouraged to add or modify features as SSH access is enabled on every Pogoplug. Additionally, the Web Services API is freely available to anyone.
It makes a pleasant change when something does exactly what it's supposed to, so well done to Pogoplug for taking the hard work out of sharing files. µ
Easy setup, loads of sharing options, decent web interface, no fees.
Limited video formats supported for web preview.
Did we mention it's shocking pink?