Upgrade your home network with a media-streaming, backup-ready NAS box

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My Book Live delivers the best overall experience

The Seagate Central’s superquiet operation, speed, and USB port make it a particularly good fit for an AV setup, though Seagate might have made it even more appealing by adopting a more modern look. The LinkStation Live is a viable media streamer, but it lagged behind the rest of the field in file copy performance and ease of configuration. The LaCie CloudBox performs well, has a nice feature set, and is a strong product at a nice price. In the end, however, Western Digital’s My Book Live delivered the best combination of low price, performance, features, and ease of setup and use. That earned it the extra half-point it needed to take the top spot.

Feature sets

PRODUCT Capacity USB port Online storage Backup software Remote access App support
Buffalo LinkStation Live 2TB No No NovaBackup (PC) Local/portal N/A
LaCie CloudBox 2TB No Yes: 10GB for one year Rsync (for NAS backup), Genie TimeLine (PC), Intego (Mac), Time Machine support Local/portal Android, iOS
Seagate Central 2TB Yes No Seagate Dashboard (no provision for NAS backup) Local/portal Android, iOS, Kindle
Western Digital My Book Live 1TB No No Safepoints (for NAS backup), WD SmartWare, Time Machine support Local/portal Android, iOS, Web, Windows Phone

How we tested

We measured each box’s file-transfer performance by copying first a 10GB collection of small files and then a single 10GB file (a read test). Then we copied those files back to the NAS box (a write test). We repeated each task several times and then averaged the results.

We paid special attention to each box’s ease of setup and use, media-streaming capabilities, and remote access. To evaluate media capabilities, we used the media server or servers (DLNA and/or iTunes) on each box to stream music and video encoded in various file formats to iTunes, Windows Media Player, and XBMC running on Windows clients. We also streamed 40-mbps, 1080p MKV files to three separate PCs simultaneously, to test each box’s ability to serve multiple users at once.

Video codec support

PRODUCT MP4 MKV AVI WMV FLV Ogg
Buffalo LinkStation Yes Yes (extra feature: transcodes for Windows Media Player clients) Yes Yes Yes No
LaCie CloudBox Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Seagate Central Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
WD My Book Live Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No

Audio codec support

PRODUCT MP3 WMA WMA Lossless M4A M4A Lossless Ogg FLAC
Buffalo LinkStation Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
LaCie CloudBox Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Seagate Central Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
WD My Book Live Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Note: The file formats listed in the charts above indicates the box’s ability to stream a format, not the client’s ability to play it. XBMC and iTunes can play audio streams encoded in Apple Lossless, for instance, but Windows Media Player cannot. Windows Media Player, meanwhile, is one of the few media players that can handle WMA Lossless tracks.

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At a Glance
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