|At a Glance|
|Product||CodeLathe TonidoPlug Personal Cloud Server|
|Summary||Yet another Marvell-based mini-cloud appliance, but with more sophisticated applications and features|
|Pros||• Small, low powered and silent
• Good performance
• Powerful sharing infrastructure
• Root access for easy extension
|Cons||• Bare bones NAS features
• Only one USB port
• No eSATA port
I've long been a fan of little network devices. I enjoy watching the advances in performance and reduction in power conumption and seeing the expanding array of applications they can handle. In this review, I'll check out CodeLathe's TonidoPlug, a plug-computer that's designed to run the Tonido software platform and be extendible through the installation of free or paid apps from the Tonido app store.
The Plug itself comes in a wall-wart form factor reminiscent of CTERA's CloudPlug. As you can see in the product photo above, there's a power plug, 10/100/1000 Ethernet port and a single USB 2.0 port. Power and activity indicators are the only things to grace the front panel (aside from the Tonido logo). It's hard to see from the photo, but the plug can be removed and a supplied power cable attached if you would rather have the TonidoPlug sitting on your desk.
Getting going with the TonidoPlug is a piece of cake. Connect an Ethernet cable, a USB drive (FAT, FAT32, NTFS, ext2, and ext3 formats are supported) plug it into a wall outlet and you're up and running in a snap. (If you want to add more drives, you can use a USB hub.)
A typical problem with any displayless device is finding it on your network, so you can configure it. CodeLathe has the TonidoPlug automatically check in back at the Tonido server to register itself with the address assigned by your ISP. Then when you connect to the Tonido website from the same subnet, you'll be matched up with your TonidoPlug. In other words, Tonido has a dynamic DNS client built in and, similar to Skype, initiates an outbound connection from your LAN so that you don't have to mess with opening any ports in your router's firewall.
Figure 1, from the Tonido web site shows my TonidoPlug info after I pointed my browser to the discovery page.
Figure 1: TonidoPlug discovery
When you follow the link for your TonidoPlug, you're in. Figure 2 shows the login screen you'll see the first time you connect.
Figure 2: TonidoPlug first-time login
The password you're setting up here is for administration purposes, which is separate from the user account you'll use on a day-to-day basis.
Once you get into the administration menu, you'll find standard configuration items, such as network setup, time zone specification, password management, etc. Figure 3 shows disk state, both internal and USB.
Figure 3: TonidoPlug disk state.
In this case, the menu shows how much of the 512 MB internal flash I have remaining along with the state of the 16 GB USB stick I had plugged in. This menu also allows me to turn sharing on and off for the external drive.
Another feature found in the administration menus is media streaming. Figure 4 shows the setup screen where I've selected a directory to stream and turned on all compatibility options.
Figure 4: Tonido Media Streaming
How well this media streaming works depends heavily on the client that you'll be streaming to, since some clients are more flexible with media types than others. Figure 5 shows a screen dump of my iPod Touch that I've connected to the Tonido streamer.
Figure 5: iPod access to the TonidoMedia streaming service
Where I used iPod compatible media, this service worked well. I could access my pictures, music and movies as expected. Nice.