Network-attached storage (NAS) devices have traditionally been a labyrinth of networking protocols and port-forwarding features, making them the domain of expert users. Although the LaCie Network Space lacks the high-end features seen in other NAS units such as the TS-409 Pro, it makes up for it with a low price tag, fantastic user-friendliness and a sexy design.
As laptop sales continue to climb, the usefulness of NAS devices will become clear as owners look for storage units they can connect to wirelessly. But for non-geek users looking for simple plug-and-play style solutions, the market is relatively sparse.
NAS devices normally resemble a cross between a subwoofer and a jail cell, but the LaCie is an undeniably attractive device. A collection of sharp lines and piano-black tones, it’s a unit that will fit right into any living room as part of an entertainment suite.
The software interface is just as simple as the design and even novice users should be able to get the LaCie up and running with very little effort. The manual has just three pages dedicated to the installation and set up of the unit, and essentially that’s all there is to the Network Space.
The downside to this simplicity is a lack of depth. This type of unit is usually found with eSATA ports and swappable hard drives, but the LaCie has neither of these. There is a USB 2.0 port on the front of the device, which allows USB external hard drives and thumb drives to connect.
A 500GB hard drive provides the storage, and it can't be changed. This is a major flaw, as it means that very large files like DVD rips or HDTV recordings will quickly fill the drive with no hope of replacement or expansion.
This issue is further compounded by the very slow read/write speed. In our tests we transferred 6.5GB of data via Gigabit Ethernet from a PC to the NAS device in a time of 16min 25sec. This equates to a painful 6.6 megabytes per second, which is woeful when compared to other devices, such as the QNAP TS-109 Pro with its speed of 18MBps. When copying data from one location of the drive to another, the time stretched on to 31min 28sec thanks to a chuggtacular speed of 3.4MBps.
But this won’t prevent media from streaming smoothly; while transferring movies will take forever, watching them later will be a breeze.
The LaCie isn’t entirely without features, and the FTP functionality provides Web-savvy users with an Internet address to access data stored on the unit. It’s also very quiet thanks to the absence of heat extraction fans, but the result is a hot unit after lengthy use.