World's smallest NAS offered in UK

LinkStation Mini wedges two 500GB 2.5 inch drives into a case 13.5cm long and only 4cm thick

Buffalo Technology has given a UK launch to what is possibly the world's smallest network-attached server (NAS), the diminutive LinkStation Mini.

The latest addition to the long-running LinkStation series wedges two 500GB 2.5 inch drives of the type normally found in laptops into a case 13.5cm long, 8cm wide and - the most important dimension of all -- only 4 centimeters thick. This makes it roughly twice as thick as the average 2.5 inch portable drive, with a weight of 500 grams. It's not tiny but it is portable.

But unlike a standard portable/fanless drive, this one comes with a Gigabit Ethernet port, which allows it to be connected directly to a network, and not just to a PC. The USB port is for adding further storage if the Terabyte on offer isn't enough.

The device can be set up for RAID 1 or 0, so users can choose between performance or, by dividing the disk into separate but equal partitions, opt for redundancy.

The thinking behind such a device is hinted at by Buffalo's inclusion of a media server from TwonkyVision, support for iTunes, built-in print server, and a direct copy feature that lets digital cameras, camcorders or USB sticks be ported with it without the need for a PC. In other words, this is the drive with everything, designed to be carried around to perform multiple uses both in a portable and stand-alone context, which makes the NAS part essential.

The LinkStation Mini attempts to appeal to business users by supporting active domains, and group and user-level security, and also comes with Memeo's backup software. Although not mentioned on the official spec sheet, Buffalo devices have in the past come with basic encryption software -- advanced security of this ilk is the one thing that appears to be missing from the package.

"We have developed this product in line with demand for a feature-packed, silent, compact NAS solution -- and in so doing, have also acknowledged market concern in the area of power consumption," said Buffalo's Gerardine Lynch, referring to the drive's ability to power off with the PC, a feature that is now pretty standard across all such portable drives.

The LinkStation Mini will retail for £239.99 from the end of May, with a lower-cost 500GB version promised in the same timeframe.

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