When Buffalo visited the TechRadar offices to show off this product its representatives confessed that they didn’t quite know who would buy the LinkStation Mini. A squashed down version of the company’s very successful LinkStation Live range, the Mini packs in two 500GB 2.5-inch laptop hard drives in a fanless casing.
This makes it uber-quiet but also pretty toasty and a little slow - the drives spin at 5,400rpm rather than the standard 7,200rpm desktop rate. We got a rather paltry 9.2MB per second when transferring data over a standard network connection.
The device is boosted by the provision of Gigabit Ethernet – still an expensive commodity it seems - as well as a DLNA media server and support for iTunes; Apple’s software can suck tunes directly off the drive without issue. Gigabit is only worth the effort if you’ve got a router that supports it too.
There’s also a USB port on the rear of the 500g unit for direct copying of USB thumb drives or indeed anything else plugged into the USB port such as a digital camera. Another rear end switch enables the unit to automatically power on and off if required.
Buffalo’s NASNavigator software is much improved and now enables you to map a network drive and check on key drive properties from a single interface. It also makes things easier should you have various LinkStations on your network.
Designed for Mac OS X
However, it’s not exactly fully featured and for full configuration you’ll soon resort to the browser-based interface. Buffalo has also long made good for Mac users too though, and the NASNavigator has also been designed for OS X.
Unless you’d seen the box, you wouldn’t know the LinkStation Mini was any different from any other NAS device. And that’s a little bit of a problem. Storage should be used, not seen. Now, we don’t have anything against the LinkStation Mini per-se. It’s a nice little box, but you’ll need to have a very specific use case in mind for buying it – not least because of the price point the unit is pitched at.
Yep, so it’s £282 RRP won’t be its street price, but at the time of writing it’s still a £150 premium over an external hard drive of that capacity. Mind you, it’s only £30-40 more expensive than the equivalent LinkStation Live product with a full-size 3.5-inch hard drive. That doesn’t seem so bad – providing you actually need your NAS to be portable.