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Iomega StorCenter ix2-200 NAS

November 25th, 2009
New StorCenter brings additional features for homes or businesses

The storage specialist Iomega has continued to update its entire range of products, including the dual-drive ix2-series of network-attached storage (NAS) devices. The second-generation ix2-200 offers a variety of new features geared for use in the home or home office/small office (SOHO).

Externally, the new ix2-200 is one of the more attractive and compact NAS options available on the market. The drives are housed in a brushed metal enclosure, with a plastic facade covered in a grid of small holes for airflow. Several blue and white LEDs provide basic status information, although the design lacks the LCD of Iomega's four-bay ix4 product.

The ix2-200 ships with two 1TB drives for 2TB of potential storage space. The drives are initially mirrored in a RAID 1 configuration for 1TB of total capacity and protection against data loss if one drive fails. For users that have confidence in the drives, or with easily replaceable data, the web-based interface provides an option to easily switch to RAID 0 to take advantage of the entire 2TB of space.

While the NAS sits idle, the temperature of the drives appears to remain slightly high at 127 degrees Fahrenheit. The enclosure is warm to the touch, but not excessively hot. Power consumption is listed as 5W at idle, or 19W during heavy use, although the numbers were not tested.

While the fan does not produce too much noise, the drives in the test model were surprisingly loud when the device was transferring data. The noise was harsh enough to make the ix2-200 an unwelcome addition to the top of a desk. Placing the NAS on a carpeted floor at the second level of a house even produced a rumble noticeable on the first floor without the background noise of a TV or stereo. The noise level may be different with the other ix2 options such as the 1TB or 4TB variants.

Users can easily back-up a flash drive or external drive simply by plugging them into a USB port on the front of the ix2 and pressing a copy button. This feature is a must for any home or SOHO NAS, as it eliminates the need to utilize the web-based interface just to make a quick copy. Two additional USB ports are located on the back of the device for attaching a printer or additional hard drives. Users can also easily offload local data from the ix2 onto another NAS or external drive via USB.

An installation CD provides configuration software for Windows and Mac machines. After plugging the ix2 into a router on the local network, the software automatically finds the device to help make the process simple and straightforward. The interface is then accessible from any local computer, or from other locations after setting up remote access.

Windows users can take advantage of the included EMC Retrospect Express HD software for automatic back-ups from a desktop or notebook computer. The device also easily works as a Time Machine location for Mac users. Using the ix2 via Time Machine was very easy, as the primary setup is available through the familiar Mac OS X utility. Back-ups across an 802.11n network seemed to be very quick, although Gigabit Ethernet is a faster choice for establishing the first backup or larger updates.

Performance was tested using a Gigabit Ethernet connection and ATTO Technology's Disk Benchmark utility. The drive maintained average write speeds of approximately 30 MB per second, with write speeds usually slightly faster. The ix2-200 easily beats many of the current NAS offerings when comparing speed, with performance only slightly behind the fastest devices from companies such as Synology.

The ix2 supports a variety of technologies and standards such as DLNA, UPnP, iTunes server, AV Media Server, Picture Transfer Protocol (PTP), iSCSI, torrents, and Cooliris slideshows. Adding a Bluetooth dongle allows files and contact information to be transferred from smartphones. For homes or business with Axis IP security cameras, the ix2 can also be used to play and record the footage.

Torrent support is a welcome addition with the second-generation ix2. After enabling the feature, users can set maximum upload and download speeds to avoid hogging the available bandwidth. The torrent function worked well for the most part, although the interface crashed a few times when attempting to add tasks. The system will probably work properly out-of-the-box for many users, however, in certain circumstances, configuration of port forwarding may be required to achieve the highest speeds. Compared to a desktop or notebook computer that remains on standby while not in use, files certainly download much quicker with a NAS that is always on.

The interface is easy to use and intuitive, with most of the primary features available directly from the first screen. The 1.0GHz Marvel 6281 CPU and 256MB of RAM help the system keep up with most tasks, although the interface does appear to lag in certain situations. The basic layout might be great for users that want a simple experience without drowning in features, although it lacks previews for media such as images and videos.

Remote access is available when using the TZO Dynamic DNS service, with the first year included for free. Setup is easy, with most of the configuration handled automatically when the ix2 is connected to a UPnP-enabled router. The function works well, allowing users to share content without going through a typical third-party hosting service. Privileges are easily manageable to prevent administrator logins or access to private content. Continuing the service after the free trial will cost $10 per year.

Overall, the ix2-200 provides a healthy set of features compared to many of the other NAS systems available on the market. All of the functions worked just as well on Windows or Mac machines. Most of the features are geared for use in a SOHO environment, especially for buyers seeking an affordable option with modest capacities ranging from 1TB to 4TB.

The 2TB ix2-200 carries a suggested retail price of $370, although the street prices appear to reach closer to $300. The 1TB variant can be found at prices around $300, while the 4TB averages approximately $600.

- Easy to configure

- Fast transfer speeds

- Straightforward web-based interface

- Comparatively inexpensive

- Wide range of supported standards

- Works with Windows and Mac

- Loud when in use

- Interface lacks media previews

- Occasional crashes