LaCie has been cranking out desktop and mobile hard drives for what seems like forever. Similar to Apple’s hallmark product characteristics, attractive design and simplicity have always seemed high up on their list as well. Their latest offering in the rapidly growing small (and multifunctional) NAS market continues on this set path. Designed by Neil Poulton (think minimal, yet attractive design) the Wireless Space brings 1TB or 2TB of wireless storage space to your Mac, PC, or Linux environment.
Main Features and specifications:
- Available in 1TB and 2TB models (1TB model reviewed)
- Connections include: 802.11n Wi-Fi; Gigabit Ethernet; USB 2.0
- Works with UPnP, DLNA, and iTunes
- Works with Apple’s Time Machine backup
- Can be used as a wireless router, access point, or extender
- Transfer speeds over Ethernet: up to 35MB/sec
- Transfer speeds over USB 2.0: up to 30-35MB /sec
What We Liked
Design: If you’ve purchased any of the Neil Poulton designed desktop hard drives from LaCie over the last few years, the design of the Wireless Space will not come as a surprise. In fact, there are only very minor size differences and with the exception of the (very cool) downward projecting status LED gaining a few more colors, not much else has changed. We also liked the compact “brick-free” power adapter - those things can get annoying!
Silent operation: The Wireless Space makes hardly any noise. The design permits the exclusion of a full time cooling fan, making the only audible noise that of the internal hard disk drive.
Works with Time Machine: Instead of needing to purchase an additional (read: expensive) piece of Apple hardware, the Wireless Space works just like a Time Capsule. Straight out of the box the Wireless Space presents itself as a Time Machine target. Backups happen while wired or wireless, and while they are certainly slower than direct attached storage, there is a certain piece of mind gained from knowing you need not be tethered to a USB or Firewire cable to allow your backups to happen.
Media serving: The Wireless Space comes with the ability to serve multimedia content to XBox, PS3, and DLNA compliant mobile devices. A built-in iTunes server presents itself on your home network as another iTunes music library. The UPnP streaming was a compelling addition to the streaming capabilities, but the iTunes streaming was limited to audio-only.
Ability to expand storage via USB: A handy USB port located on the front of the Space lets you expand its storage by an additional 2TB should your file growth outstrip its internal capacity.
2 year warranty: This may not seem like a lot, but in the world of 1 year electronics warranties, an extra 12 months is a refreshing change of pace.
What We Didn’t Like
Wired and wireless transfer speed: LaCie claims transfer speeds of around 30MB/second over both Ethernet and USB 2.0. Our test environment consisted of the Wireless Space connected via Ethernet to an Apple Airport Extreme Gigabit base station. File transfer speeds were tested both over Ethernet and over wireless. In both cases, we were left feeling a bit underwhelmed. It took about one minute to copy 200MB worth of JPEG images off a 7200k RPM laptop hard drive.
Management interface: Like most home network attached storage devices, the browser-based management interface leaves a lot to be desired. Have you ever gone in and configured a wireless router and thought “that wasn’t fun”? Well, this experience is not much different. From the generally unattractive UI to slow response times, the less time we spent clicking through the control settings, the better.
iTunes Server doesn’t support video content: While the Wireless Space can be configured as a UPnP multimedia server we would have liked to see better native integration for sharing video content (like video podcasts, purchased shows, converted mp4 files, etc.) out of iTunes.
For the sub-$200 price point, there aren’t many home NAS devices that can offer all this functionality with the design and simplicity found with the Wireless Space. Yes, the initial configuration isn’t as straightforward as some may like, but once it is up and running everything goes smoothly. Those looking for a way to share files on a home network, use Time Machine cord-free, and stream audio/video files to a DLNA enabled devices will find all that functionality and more in this compact and attractive device.