LG N2B1D 2TB review
LG's N2B1D is the first network attached storage (NAS) device we've seen to come fitted with a Blu-ray drive, or any optical drive for that matter. This is actually a good idea, but LG's lacklustre integration of the disc burning and network storage capabilities leaves much to be desired.
Although a NAS with a built-in optical drive sounds gimmicky, it can be quite useful. Users of computers without optical drives, such as netbooks, can use the N2B1D to install software from disc. Files can also be written to disc although, unsurprisingly, only one user can access the Blu-ray drive at any one time.
Unfortunately, the web interface for burning discs is only accessible from the same password-protected interface used to manage other, more sensitive settings. It's unlikely you'll want to give all users on your network such unfettered access.
The basic burning interface is quite clunky too. It would have been far better if there was a separate disc burning application that could queue disc burning jobs from multiple users and prompt for a new disc as each job is finished. We'd also like to have seen the ability to automatically backup either all, or a selected portion, of the stored files on to disc
Unsurprisingly, the N2B1D can't be used to play or rip DVD or Blu-ray movies. There are plenty of other media sharing features though. We had no trouble using the N2B1D as an iTunes music or UPnP media server. Additional media files can be downloaded over BitTorrent without the aid of a computer. Unlike the disc burning interface, this can be accessed independently from the rest of the web management interface.
Files stored on the N2B1D can also be accessed from any internet-connected computer through a web browser. Unfortunately, this often failed to work in our tests and the lack of documentation makes it difficult to troubleshoot.
We had no trouble using the N2B1D to share a USB printer or the contents of a USB disk over our local gigabit Ethernet network though. There's also a memory card reader so their contents, as well as those of USB disks, can be automatically backed up onto the N2B1D's hard disks, although they're copied into a confusing and unwieldy nest of folders.
The 2TB version comes with a pair of 1TB hard disks fitted in easily accessible drive bays. In RAID 0 mode, 2TB of storage is available, but if a single disk fails then you'll lose all your data. Under RAID 1, the available storage is halved but your data will be safe if a disk fails. The N2B1D's performance, whether under RAID 0 or 1, was in line with what we'd expect – it's roughly the same speed of a USB hard disk so it should be fast enough for everyday use.
With a price per gigabyte of 17p, the N2B1D isn't extortionately priced but you're still paying for a Blu-ray drive which has been poorly integrated and can't be used to its full potential. If you're still taken with the idea of an optical drive-equipped NAS, cheaper versions with a DVD instead of a Blu-ray drive and smaller disks, or no disks fitted at all, are available.
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