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Excito B3 WiFi review

Verdict:

Despite the huge feature list, the B3 WiFi is too expensive compared to other NAS devices that offer better performance.

Review Date: 19 Feb 2011

Price when reviewed: £475

Reviewed By: Tom Morgan

Our Rating 3 stars out of 5

Excito isn’t particularly well known in the UK, but the Swedish company has been quietly producing high-end network attached storage devices for several years. The B3 WiFi is the newest edition to the range, a compact single-bay NAS with 1TB of storage. The all-metal construction looks sleek but it’s also practical, acting as a giant heatsink for the internal components. As there’s no cooling fan it’s virtually silent, with the only audible noise coming from the hard disk.

The product name gives you a clue, but the two WiFi aerials at the back of the unit still stand out as very few NAS devices have built-in wireless. The B3 WiFi can be set up as a wireless router as well as network storage, but because it doesn’t have a built-in ADSL modem you’ll still need a separate one to connect to the internet. Also around the back are two USB ports for attaching network printers or external storage. You can buy a separate “Bubba” storage module (£217 for 1TB) to connect to the single eSATA port – this will give you the added protection of RAID 1, but it’s not as neat as using a two-bay enclosure and is shockingly expensive.

Excito B3 WiFi

Initial setup has to be over a wired connection as WiFi is disabled by default, but otherwise the process is easy and requires only a few clicks. The web interface looks simple at first, with a menu-based system providing access to all the main features. It’s very user-friendly, but behind the scenes the B3 is actually running a custom version of Debian Linux. This means advanced users can access the NAS’s operating system with an SSH client and install Debian packages – so you could install applications such as an anti-virus client if you’re committed enough.

We were impressed with the number of features Excito has crammed into the B3. Media streaming options include UPnP, iTunes server and Squeezebox support, or you can play your music straight through the web interface’s player application. A download manager can handle files from websites, FTP servers and torrents, saving them directly to the internal hard disk. We especially liked the web photo album feature, which lets you share your photos with friends with very little effort. If you run a small website, the B3 could be the ideal all-in-one home hosting device. It includes web, file and email servers, so with a static IP or dynamic DNS account you can start hosting with very little hassle. The backup feature is fairly comprehensive, with options to back up your operating system to the B3 or the contents of the B3’s hard disk to an external USB drive.

Regardless of the number of features it might have, a NAS device also needs to handle your files well. The B3 managed an average 21MB/s in our large files test and a slower 11.2MB/s with small files. While not the fastest we’ve seen, these results are still reasonable for a single drive NAS that doesn’t use RAID.

Despite the mountain of features and an excellent interface, the B3 is undeniably expensive. It’s much easier to set up features like remote access if you use the router feature, but as there’s no built-in modem you’ll need an external one to connect to the internet. As such, it can’t really be called an all-in-one unit and we’ve judged it more on its merits as a NAS. The interface is straightforward and responsive, transfer times are reasonable and it looks good, but the competition costs far less. The excellent Synology DS210J is a cheaper option that also includes RAID for extra data protection.

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