A convenient, flexible and cheap way of setting up your own cloud
Review Date: 9 Jul 2012
Reviewed By: Jonathan Bray
Price when reviewed: £83 (£99 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
Many NAS drives offer personal “cloud” content sharing, but in our experience setting it up can be a frustrating experience. The diminutive TonidoPlug2 is an exception, and among the easiest to use NAS drives we’ve come across with regard to setting up remote access.
All you need to do to get going is plug it into the mains and hook it up to your router, run the scanning utility on Tonido’s website and set up an account online. You’ll then be able to access the device, not only from within your home LAN via Gigabit Ethernet, but also externally via a personalised URL. And all this without having to faff about with port forwarding or dynamic DNS.
The hardware, too, is beautifully efficient. The TonidoPlug2 itself is a very small device, almost pocket-sized, with a single external USB port for networking external drives. Once the sharing is set up, adding a drive is a simple matter of plugging it in.
If you want to hide the device away somewhere far from your router there’s also 802.11n Wi-Fi, and it even has an integrated power supply, connected to the mains via a figure-of-eight cable. There’s more, too: the TonidoPlug2, despite its tiny size, also has space for an internal 2.5in SATA drive, mounted under a plastic flap on one side.
What’s perhaps most impressive of all about the TonidoPlug2 is its software, accessed via a browser. It isn’t quite up to Synology levels of sophistication and power, but it’s attractive, responsive and easy to use nonetheless, offering everything from simple file browsing to music and video streaming and photo browsing.
A range of extra features is available via a series of free, downloadable apps. Among these are a UPnP/DLNA media server, a music organiser, a torrent client and a file sync tool.
If you want to give it a whirl, Tonido offers a free version of the software that turns any Mac, Windows or Linux machine into a web-accessible NAS.
There are also native apps for most major mobile operating systems that allow you to upload and download files, and stream media from connected drives. Android, iOS, BlackBerry and Playbook OS and Windows Phone are all supported.
There are annoyances. We found those so-useful apps do from time to time go into “suspend” mode and stop working when you connect new drives or reset, something that’s frustrating if you’re using it to run a media server.
And there's no native support for music formats other than MP3; others such as .OGG and .FLAC files are transcoded, and to a noticeably low bitrate, reducing audio quality.
Those niggles aside, though, we like the TonidoPlug2. It’s a doddle to set up and use and very compact, with app support across a broad selection of mobile platforms, yet it isn’t horribly expensive. A nice idea, well implemented.
Author: Jonathan Bray
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