Hybrid Storage: Akitio's Entry-Level DriveJuly 1, 2012 by Greg May
Safety and performance. Those are often the trade-offs with external storage, since having a disk nearby speeds up access, but increases the risk of failure or damage or theft. Moving your data into the cloud is safer, since there are typically multiple managed backups, but moving larger files can take forever. Blending both of these is a good idea, and we're starting to see more and more devices come with cloud options.
Akitio's Cloud Hybrid 1 Bay also blends network-attached storage with direct-attached storage, since you can plug into the device with either ethernet or USB 3.0 (you can only use one at a time though). There aren't Thunderbolt or wireless options on this model, but we haven't found wireless network storage to work all that well, and Thunderbolt isn't widely available or supported (and is still quite expensive). Speaking of costs, this is a very value-focused enclosure, as it comes without a hard drive included, and costs a remarkably inexpensive $100 or so.
We weren't familiar with the company before, but they've got a long history in this type of gear. We popped in a 2TB drive, plugged in via ethernet, and threw on some files (music, movies, documents) to test out how well everything ran. Media lovers, there is a DLNA uPNP server and iTunes music server support built-in. We didn't get a chance to test out both of the free mobile apps, but the iOS version is decent, with some awkward login and user interface issues (Android is also supported). The hardware specs are not impressive, but you do get what you pay for: 300 Mhz processor and only 32 MB of RAM. This meant that transfer speeds and overall performance were not up to many similar devices, though the others do cost quite a bit more. This isn't a RAID-capable, high-end NAS (there's only room for one drive after all), but meant for fairly light media and file use.
One thing to note: you'll have to plug in via ethernet at first, and format the drive using the web interface to a pretty specific format (exFAT). It's painless, and doesn't take long, but does mean you'll have to start with an empty drive or lose your information. Also, there's no SSH or Telnet access to the drive, not an issue for most people, but still a limitation. Basically, if you're looking for a "starter" or entry-level NAS, something inexpensive to get your files shared locally and with network capability, this is one of the cheaper options out there. Folks who want 1080p network streaming and slick interfaces, RAID support or a fully-featured BitTorrent client (the included one is pretty awkward) should look elsewhere.
AkiTio Cloud Hybrid by Red Gadget