Once you've tried networked multimedia, it's difficult to go back to anything else. The downside is having to leave all of your energy-guzzling PCs on. An alternative is to use a networkable hard drive, onto which you would copy the desired media from the PCs.

The Maxtor Shared Storage II is equipped with no less than 1 terabyte - which should last you some time!

By default, DHCP automatically assigns the Shared Storage II a unique IP address - enter this into your web browser, and you'll find a page that allows access to various administrative tasks such as user accounts and disk-formatting. Windows XP/Vista and Mac users can run the supplied EasyManage utility, which detects available drives and offers automated backup/restoreand media management.

Highs

Any DLNA-compliant uPnP networked media client can stream audio, video and photos from the Shared Storage II.

Gigabit Ethernet is supported, in addition to 10/100Mbps.

Files can be easily transferred to media folders from compatible PCs and Macs via the hard-drive that appears on your desktop.

Lows

Not possible to upgrade the drives without invalidating the warranty.

The supplied EasyManage utility is only available for Windows XP/Vista and MacOS. There's no FTP server, and so users of other operating. systems (like Linux) are left in the cold.

Wired Ethernet only. No provision has been made for WiFi.

Need to run EasyManage when new media is transferred for it to be available to networked players