Cirago NUS1000 Network USB Storage Link: Inexpensive, but Media Serving Is Mixed
At a Glance
Cirago NUS1000 Network USB Storage Link
An inexpensive interface for local network sharing of USB drives and printers, but this model lacks features that competing devices offer.
Have some USB drives hanging out that you haven't used in a while? Tired of leaving a PC on just so you can stream media across your network? Don't want to pony up the cash for a full-on NAS box and more drives? Then Cirago's NUS1000 USB Network Storage Link ($70 as of September 1, 2010) could be what you're looking for. It lets you attach multiple USB storage devices so you can share files and stream media across your network.
The NUS1000 is only slightly larger than a deck of cards, yet it houses four USB 2.0 ports for accommodating USB storage drives. It also has a 10/100 ethernet port for connecting to your router, plus an AC port. There's no integrated wireless, however; for that or for gigabit ethernet, check out the Iomega iConnect Wireless Data Station. On the other hand, the NUS1000 does have one unique feature: an eject button for safely removing USB devices.
Like most NAS boxes, the NUS1000 is configured and administered via a Web browser. But its interface, features, and options are a little behind what you find in competing devices--and they're occasionally unintuitive. In particular, the help system seemed to assume that users possess a high level of clairvoyance. The unit's biggest drawback, though, is its lack of write support for NTFS--you can read NTFS-formatted drives, but you must reformat them to FAT32 or ext2 before you can write to them.
Though the NUS1000 offers some NAS features, it falls far short of the QNAPs and Synologys of the world. For instance, it lacks RAID and cannot share files across the Internet. I had expected it to function as an FTP server at least, but no such luck. Cirago promises to add this capability in the next firmware version. Already, the unit shares files, streams media, downloads BitTorrents, and serves up printers and an iTunes library. Performance doesn't match that of the best NAS boxes I've tried, however.
In my hands-on testing, everything went well, aside from my first attempt to enable BitTorrent downloads. Initially, having only NTFS drives attached to the unit prevented the BitTorrent feature from working; and even after inserting and selecting a FAT32 drive, I couldn't enable downloads. The fix turned out to be a simple reboot, but the experience underscores the hassle of working with a model that lacks NTFS write support. Cirago informed me that this issue reflects a limitation of the chipset and won't be addressed until the next version of the product.
Though I was expecting a bit more from the NUS1000's interface, the device worked well overall--within its limits. Still, Iomega's iConnect (priced at only $20 more as of September 1, 2010) works better and delivers more bang for your buck than the NUS1000 (as tested with its version 1.2.1 firmware).