Not many companies tick the right boxes in quite the same manner as Plextor. That’s no surreptitious piece of advertising on our part, but it is appreciation for a company that truly understands the importance of everything working straight out of the box. Bluntly, we can’t remember one of its products that didn’t work first time.
The PX-EH40L, a 400GB external drive that works as a network attached storage box, is just the kind of device that once upon a time would cause headaches to set up. Not so here. Inside the box is a clear, proper and effective start-up guide, all the cabling you need and a CD-ROM with a more in-depth manual on it.
Granted, we’d have been happier with a full printed manual, and the presentation of the content on the CD isn’t perfect, but by the time you pop the disc in your drive (if indeed you choose to), the likelihood is that the PX-EH40L will have been up and running for a while anyway.
From out of the box to sitting on our test network took, in total, four minutes (we had a DHCP compliant network, which made this a lot easier). That includes fumbling around for a relevant lead, as our European review sample came with a two-pin plug.
Following the simple guide, it was then the work of another few seconds to get every machine on our network to see the drive (even the LAN cable is provided, and both PCs and Macs are supported), and then we swiftly set to work writing files to it.
And here’s another major plus: it’s extremely quiet in operation, putting even our trusty Buffalo LinkStation to shame with its borderline silent efficiency. It didn’t get hot, it never grumbled. No, this is a product that shuts up and gets on with its work.
Also in its armoury are a few neat tricks and additions that lift it above a standard NAS drive and help justify the corresponding price tag. Functions such as using it as a print server (assuming it’s a USB printer you want to share) or as a dedicated FTP server are supported, with relative ease. It also houses a couple of USB ports that allow you to backup the PX-EH40L itself to a separate external drive, with automatic backup tools ready and waiting. Those ports also support a flash drive or digital camera, which we found quite handy.
The hard drive at the heart of the unit is a 7,200rpm device, which capably dealt with the large data transfers we threw at it. Where the package stumbles slightly, though, is with the price, which on a gigabyte-for-gigabyte basis doesn’t compare brilliantly with the competition. It’s not a million miles out, but we quickly found a similar capacity device for around £40 less, and a 500GB device from another manufacturer for just an extra tenner. Incidentally, Plextor also sells a variant of this device with a 250GB capacity and a lesser price tag.
Still, Plextor has never been about being the cheapest. And while that price would perhaps leave us waiting a while in the hope it came down, there’s little doubting that the firm’s debut into the NAS sector has been a bit of a triumph. This product is flexible, thoughtful, reliable and fuss-free, and that endeared it to us enormously. Highly impressive.
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