In my last few trips overseas, there’s always been request to send home some photos while I was on the move. It would have been quite an easy task, except that sending a few megs or gigs of photos over email may not always be possible, and there’s always this thing of having to look through all the photos to choose the best – since the cost of the use of the Internet isn’t always affordable.

The other thing was, after the mail is sent, my parents at home would have to download the files again – and while opening several emails just to download files may be an easy task for most people, it may be an agonizing wait for those who are not tech-savvy.

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That was until I was introduced the Linksys by Cisco Media Hub which looks and feels like a Network Attached Storage, but it’s in actual fact, a file server, backup system, an AV streamer (streaming device, but here, we just cut short everything) and a spy agent all-in-one. As a file server, it allows you to upload files over the network or simply plug in your CF/SD/MS/USB media onto the hub – and yes, this includes your hard disk as well to be copied into the hub. There was a rumoured single one-touch button allows automated backup powered by NTI, but I think it’s probably initiated from the connecting machine.

And, because it connects to the network, it is mappable and discoverable as a UPnP device. In other words, all over UPnP devices (or devices supporting this protocol) will be visible to each other and makes access very much easier.

In addition, this small looking hub packs a power punch streaming capability of up to 3 streams at HD. I have seen it streaming to 2 televisions and to a Nokia phone all at the same time – without a single drop in quality. This is probably one of the best streamers I have seen around because not only does it not lag, it does it in high definition as well. Besides HD movies, it does just as well for audio and pictures!

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Oh, did I mention that it is an FTP server as well?

Of course, the most interesting part of the Linksys Media Hub is its ability to spy the contents of all connected computers to the network. The UPnP apparently allows devices to talk to each other in a seamless fashion, and I guess that’s when the eye-opening experience starts. You see, you can actually set the hub to scan the network and all connected devices/computers for any sort of media – and this results in a album of thumbnails that displays what pictures are stored in each computer.

Yes – this means your, ahem, hidden pictures will appear as well. Now, if you don’t want to risk exposing Edison-grade compromising pictures, perhaps it’s time you look into encrypting your… sensitive files. 🙂

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Ok, enough about its mouth-watering features. In short, what it allows me to do is for me to upload my pictures over the Internet back onto this device at home and my parents can simply view the pictures on their PC or the TV via the Microsoft Xbox. However, since I have neither the Linksys Media Hub nor the Microsoft Xbox, this will just remain as a dream for a while.

Technically, the hub is a 2-bay unit that comes with a 500GB SATA-II harddisk (although I have seen a 1GB configuration from the US). It is also configurable for RAID 0 and ensures reliability of the device and availability of your data. It comes with an RJ-45 socket that supports a 100/1000MBps Ethernet connection. Presumably, you are able to “daisy-chain” 2 or more of the hubs such that they are recognised/can be controlled via a single Web interface.

First impressions, this is definitely a boon for photographers like myself and for many who would like a fuss-free way to keep their media files stored at a centralised location; viewable anywhere. However, the only setback for photographers is that it does not display RAW files, but well, it beats having to send megs of pictures via email 🙂

Now, if only I can get my hands on one…



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