Right Vision – Eye-box Max review

dog-shaped network server
Photo of Right Vision – Eye-box Max
£730 + VAT for basic model

It’s hard to take a server seriously when it’s shaped like a small metal puppy. However, lurking beneath the canine cover of the quirky Eye-box Max from Right Vision is a reasonably well specified server appliance designed to meet the networking needs of a small business.

Strip away the outer casing and inside the Eye-box Max you find a standard Intel motherboard with a 933MHZ Pentium III processor and 512MB of memory. This runs an implementation of Linux with, on the base model, a single 30GB ATA hard disk providing the necessary storage space. Alternatively it’s possible to specify a pair of mirrored 40GB drives, although these should be specified up front as getting into the case to upgrade the hardware is far from easy.

On the communications side an integrated four port, 10/100Mbps Ethernet switch provides for LAN connectivity, with an 11Mbps wireless interface offered as an option. There’s also a separate Ethernet port for attachment of an Internet router, with the option of specifying an internal ISDN or ADSL modem instead, the server itself then acting as a router to share the Internet connection. And lastly, there’s a parallel port and two USB connectors which can be used to attach printers to be shared on the network.

Initial configuration is done via the LCD panel which makes up Max’s head, although for the most part you manage the Eye-box from a Web browser. Unfortunately the dog motif is carried on in the management interface with animated puppies all over the place. Not to everyone’s taste, but we found it reasonably straightforward and if you want to try it for yourself you can do so via the vendor’s Web site.

A wizard guides you through the initial setup with all the usual features you’d expect on a small business server. To begin with there’s file and printer sharing for Windows, Linux and Apple users, plus a full SMTP mail server that supports POP3 and IMAP4 access using standard client software such as Outlook Express or Eudora. DHCP and DNS servers are also included along with a packet filtering firewall for Internet security that also provides Network Address Translation (NAT).

An FTP server is another option, plus Max can be used to host multiple intranet or public Internet Web sites using the ever popular Apache Web server software. Added to which there’s a Virtual Desk facility giving local and remote users access to their files, e-mail, and contact lists via an SSL-protected browser interface.

Aimed at businesses with up to 25 users, the Eye-box Max is quick and easy to deploy and certainly meets most of the needs of such companies. It’s just a matter of whether you can live with all the dog motifs, with lots of alternatives available offering the same functionality in a more conventional format.

Company: Right Vision

Contact: 01923 245151


Verdict
This Linux-based appliance provides much of the hardware and software needed to support a small business network. Integrated LAN and WAN interfaces can be specified, plus you get file sharing, e-mail and a Web server as standard. The dog-shaped casing, though, could be a turn-off for some, with plenty of more conventional alternatives available for those in a market for this kind of product.