Plug centralises storage, turns any drive into a NAS box

plugOne of the issues we’ve seen with many network-attached storage (NAS) devices is that the software to set them up and get them going just isn’t simple enough for most users to handle. Not computer geeks, but the average ‘flick it on and use it’ type user. That’s where a new Kickstarter campaign err… kicks in for a tiny device called Plug.

And after just four days, it’s already racked up more than $277,000 in pledges, well past its original $69,000 goal.

The concept is pretty simple – take the Plug, plug in USB storage (up to eight drives on a hub) into the USB port, the Ethernet port to your home network, add the Plug app to your PCs and portable devices and you have a centralised storage system.

But the Plug Team are at pains to differentiate this from Dropbox, saying that it doesn’t just sync up one folder. In practice, however, it sounds more like a mini PC-meets-NAS box. The idea is that you can work on one set of files from any device with the Plug app, but all of those devices get access to the storage and those files. How that differs from what you can do with a NAS box, we’re not sure – except that it’s a heck of a lot smaller. Where it looks to differ is with its remote access for your content – a bit like OwnCloud – but at a fee apparently lower than what you’d pay for Dropbox. You can also connect up to eight USB drives to one Plug and have them all shared across all network devices.

The technical specs are below – the fact that it’s using an x86-compatible processor is a little surprising. It sounds exactly the sort of thing you’d think could be done with an any of the ARM Cortex Ax processors, although that might be oversimplifying it a little.

Technical specifications

  • Embedded Linux (OpenWRT based)
  • x86 compatible processor
  • Port for you hard drive: USB2
  • Port for Internet: Ethernet port 10/100 Mbps
  • Average transfer speed: 30 Mbps
  • Supported file systems: NTFS, HFS+, Ext3/Ext4, FAT32
  • Number of drives supported (using an external USB hub): 8
  • Dimensions: 270mm (W) x 110mm (D) x 20mm (H)
  • Weight: 200g
  • LED Display: Power/ Action
  • Operation Environment: 0 – 95 °F
  • Storage Environment: 0 – 120°F
  • US or EU power adapter 110V/220V (included)
  • Ethernet cable (included)
For those who don’t have the time of inclination to setup a NAS box, Plug looks like a simple way to create your own centralised storage system. And if you’re quick, you can still pick up one for under $70 (at time of publishing).

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