Linksys by Cisco Media Hub 410 1TB
At a Glance
Linksys by Cisco Media Hub NMH 410 1TB
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This model is an excellent, easy-to-use choice for streaming media, but it's poky at data transfers.
The Linksys by Cisco Media Hub 410 1TB easily offers the friendliest media-serving Web interface of the NAS boxes we recently evaluated. It's the only unit aside from Synology's DS209+ and the HP MediaSmart that lets you play and view media on your PC via the Web-based configuration interface; however, it trumps its rivals with its ability to play video as well as audio files and photos. The video you'll see is reduced considerably in size, but at least you can preview it before downloading it to your local machine.
Firefox users will need to install the Windows Media Player 11 plug-in to play video and music; with Firefox, however, we were able to play only video and MP3 audio files, and not WMA audio tracks.
The dual-bay Media Hub comes with one drive that can be configured as either RAID 1 or JBOD. This unit is a single 1TB drive; you can use the additional bay to install a second drive to the unit. It also has CompactFlash, Secure Digital, and Memory Stick card slots up front, making this model especially enticing to digital photographers in need of network backup. A built-in color LCD makes it easy to navigate the Media Hub's functions directly from the front panel. You cannot set up the Media Hub from a Mac, but the Media Hub will work with Macs on your network, since it supports Apple Bonjour.
Cisco also provides a dedicated Web site for accessing your media from anywhere you can surf the Internet; however, this service is free only for the first year. The default password when you enable and configure this feature is "admin"--one of the first passwords any hacker will try, so change it first thing. You can also expose the NAS box by the usual means of port forwarding from your router.
Unfortunately, this model was one of the slowest we've seen at our data transfer tests. In the PC World Test Center, this model required 404 seconds to copy 3GB of files and folders; and it took 404 seconds to search through 12GB of data.
The Media Hub was also the only unit on which we didn't experience any problems when streaming high-definition 1080p video across a 10/100 wired ethernet connection. Cisco says the box can handle up to three high-def streams simultaneously. All in all, the Media Hub is one slick media-serving machine--the best of the lot for its media features and ease of use.
--Jon L. Jacobi and Melissa J. Perenson