- Low power drain
- Expandable with external devices
- Very unintuitive setup
Mobile devices are great, if a bit constrained on space sometimes. Those 8,000 pictures and five captured videos from the last concert attended tend to eat space if not offloaded. Akitio may have a solution -- the MyCloud Mini Personal Cloud Server. Leveraging a home Internet connection and associated network, the diminutive device -- when equipped with a 2.5-inch hard drive -- can store some data external to the device, allowing a mobile device to access stored files either remotely, or when inside the home network confines.
Technically, the unit is a network attached storage (NAS) device, with a dual-core 750MHz SoC processor and 256MB of DDR2 and 256MB of NAND flash for settings. It holds a single 2.5-inch SATA I or II drive no taller than 14.8mm, peaking at 3Gb/second. External expansion of the device is possible through a pair of USB 2.0 ports, and a single eSATA port. A single Gigabit Ethernet port provides network connectivity, with no Wi-Fi option.
The device can operate as a server for SAMBA, FTP, NFS, DHCP, UPnP, iTunes, and BitTorrent. Remote login outside the user's home network is possible, with the MyAkitio web portal. Dimensionally, the casing is 4.8 inches square, and 1.3 inches tall, and weighs in at nearly a pound, likely due to the all metal casing.
We ran into setup issues from the get-go. Documentation for setup is sparse, with no setup "Wizard" or assistant in any way. To save readers' time, following drive installation users have to log into the web portal, not the device itself, at myakitio.com to format the drive and make it ready for use. Initial access requires the MAC address of the unit (printed handily on the bottom), so have that available before jamming the case someplace inconvenient.
We had zero success with any method of setup other than "Auto," which is acceptable for most users. The Auto configuration, upon inspection, formats the drive with XFS and a swap partition, deleting any data previously stored on the device. There's no compelling technical reason that we could discern that the Akitio should have to completely reformat a drive which may already be formatted properly for the device, forcing the user to send data to the drive over the network at a relatively slow 8MB per second across a wired connection. There's no way to pre-load the drive with data before installing it into the case, which is a mark against it, albeit a minor one.
We had much more luck with actual use after initial setup. The web interface is clean, and resembles OS X superficially. The web interface allows for configuration of all the user access and protocols the device supports, so with a little user manipulation, conceivably, the small unit could replace a more pricey NAS for basic users.
Computer data access is through SAMBA or FTP networking. SAMBA proved to be the most convenient, cross-platform option. Mobile devices, such as iOS or Android tablets and phones have an Akitio app for shuffling data back and forth from phones. The device is not a media streamer to mobile, but a data bank. Any media to be consumed on the phone or tablet needs to be completely moved prior to use, which is not perfect, but adequate for most users.
Overall, we like the MyCloud Mini. The initial setup is fussy, but a better-written configuration document would eliminate most hassles with setup. We're not sure that even with a better manual that the device is suitable for all users, given its relatively complex configuration, but for mobile junkies where 64GB just isn't enough, a brief period of growing pains will assist with media consumption and data storage in a cost-effective fashion.