Straight from the off, there are several compelling features that attracted us to the LG N2B1DB2, although its name was not one of them.
First, this is a decently-priced network attached storage device, that offers 2TB of space ready built-in. It does this via two swappable drives, which are easy to remove by opening the front door of the unit, and you can choose exactly how to deploy them. You can, for performance purposes, stripe them for instance, for maximum speed. Or you can configure them to mirror each other, for maximum data protection. Whichever you choose, the supplied drives are quiet in operation, as is the device as a whole.
You configure the drives via the excellent LG web menu, which is one of the easiest of its ilk we’ve had the pleasure of using. You install a shortcut to it via the supplied disc of software (which includes NAS discover tool for starters, to help find your device on your home network), and from there you can set up BitTorrent, FTP or media services, as well as shares and security functions. There’s also support for the likes of active directory and network printing, and it’s a doddle to take advantage of such features.
We did find that the instructions were a little lax though, and didn’t make clear that you had to configure the drives yourself before you could deploy the product, but again, this wasn’t the trickiest problem to solve.
Next up there’s the fact that the unit itself – and it’s an attractive, almost Shuttle-sized box – comes with a trio of USB 2.0 ports and a memory card reader, to directly attach extra storage. And there’s an in-built LCD display that lets you know exactly what’s going on. It’s a dream to set up and get going, we found.
Then comes what could be its unique selling point, although for us it’s the most confusing inclusion. For also built in is a Blu-ray rewriter, to give you an extra data backup solution. This is an interesting touch, and something that should have sent the price of the unit a little higher than it has. It has limits: anyone looking to broadcast playback Blu-rays or DVDs over the DLNA media server the product supports is in for disappointment, and there’s a slight sniff of gimmick about it. Only one user can access the disc at a time, too, and there’s no straightforward disc burning tool. It’s all a bit of a muddle, and in the end, the Blu-ray drive didn’t really add much to the package, if anything.
Incidentally, on the media server side, we found that our PlayStation 3 could see the drive on our network perfectly well, but couldn’t find any content on it. We had no joy with an Xbox 360, either. On a brighter note, we then added a Western Digital TV HD Live, and that was happy to pick up the content that the LG device streamed.
Further issues? The fact that there’s two drive bays does limit the RAID potential of the unit, and you can’t overlook that this is a competitive area of the market, with some equally interesting deals to be found elsewhere.
In the case of the LG N2B1DB2, ultimately we can’t help feeling that you’re paying a bit of a premium for a Blu-ray function that few people will actually use, and as such, while LG’s device is good, there’s room for improvement, and better deals to be found.