Updated 11/23/2011: Ethernet port speed corrected
|At a Glance|
|Product||Cloud Engines Pogoplug Mobile (POGO-V4-A1-01)|
|Summary||Cheapest version of popular SOHO cloud NAS|
|Pros||• Relatively inexpensive
• microSD slot
• No ongoing service charges
|Cons||• One USB 2.0 port
• Video transcoding is not real time and is very slow
• Android app designed for phones, not tablets
Cloud Engines' new Pogoplug Mobile device is the company's new entry level device. It's marketed towards the ever-popular and ever-growing mobile market, with emphasis placed on having your media anywhere.
For $79.99, you get a box with a brand new case and hardware design. But the only functional difference between the Pogogplug Mobile and the standard Pogoplug is one USB 2.0 port vs 4. However, the Pogoplug Mobile also has a SD card slot, which standard 'Plugs do not come with. I assume this is to make it easier to access microSD cards from phones that support external storage.
Pogoplug Mobile ports
Otherwise every other feature is the same. So there is really nothing particularly "mobile" about this product, other than its name. You can see the new revised product lineup, with a good table describing available features, on the Pogoplug website. For $20.00 less than the standard Pogoplug, the loss of three USB ports is worth the savings.
With such a radical departure from the old Pogoplug Case design, I'm effectively dubbing this "v2.5" because, as you see in the photos, the case design is much smaller, and much more inline with other SOHO networking products.
The Pogoplug Mobile's network connection is a
10/100 10/100/1000 Ethernet
port; no wireless connectivity is supported. In fact, with the introduction
of the Mobile, Cloud Engines has restructured its product lineup and end-of-life'd
its only wireless product, the Pogoplug
Pro. This was a fine decision in my book, since wireless on a NAS is usually
just a good way to reduce performance (which it did).
New hardware means new photos! Cloud Engines is now using a "flip-chip" design, which places the main processor on the bottom of the card. This is done because of space constraints and to aid heat dissipation by way of an aluminum heat spreader. Graphics card manufacturers have been doing this as long as I can remember, for similar reasons.
Pogoplug Mobile board
The big chip is Marvell's new 88F6192 Kirkwood ARMv5 NAS system-on-chip running at 800 MHz. It's actually got quite a bit packed in, according to the data sheet, including two Ethernet ports, two SATA ports, and a PCI Express port. Cloud Engines makes none of this available however, unlike the short-lived and troubled Pogoplug Video, which had a SATA port inside. There are more inside shots in the photo gallery below.
Thankfully, setup has not been made any more difficult with the latest Pogoplug. Connect it up to the network, plug in your storage, plug in the power, and surf to the Pogoplug website. The website even found it automatically, which hasn't happened with the past few Pogoplug reviews). So I think I finally hit the fabled "5-minute" setup time.
Pogoplug included a 4 GB Kingston SDHC card, which I decided to use to see if the 'Plug would treat it any differently than the USB port, which it didn't. Unfortunately, you do still have to safely remove/eject the SD card from the web interface, or else run the risk of having data corrupted.
I don't understand why this is still the case, as Linux (which runs the 'Plug) has long-since figured out how to handle quick-removal of USB devices. Only OS X remains the last throwback to the old times, requiring the user to remember to eject their drives. Regardless, don't forget to do this.
Using the Pogoplug hasn't changed much since I've started reviewing them, other than a new coat of paint on the same web interface every so often. The Mobile proves no different and worked pretty much immediately out of the box, allowing me to browse the network fairly quickly.
Cloud Engines has added a new piece of desktop software called the "Pogoplug Browser", which effectively replaces the Pogoplug Drive software (now included in the Pogoplug Desktop software). The Browser has had a healthy amount of interface design applied and provides a decent experience, although it's not without its glitches.
I let the software sync up my music, movies, and photos off my Macbook, which all seemed to work. But the sync seriously taxed the little device to the point where it wouldn't respond to the web or browser interface while running the sync. Also, it complained about errors being encountered, but I couldn't actually see what the error was. Bottom line: use the free Pogoplug Desktop software to access the Pogoplug—it's more mature and stable.
That said, using the free Desktop software showed the Mobile has no performance improvements from past 'Plugs. I did some tests of transferring a single large file versus a folder of smaller files, and performance was basically the same as every other Pogoplug I've tested, about 25 MB/s, so don't expect the new device to produce any miracles.