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Wireless Networking Hardware

Asus Launching a Wi-Fi Hard Drive 218

Posted by michael
from the if-you-don't-have-wifi,-what-do-you-have? dept.
TheFoot writes "The Register reports that Asus is promising to 'change your perception on data storage'. They're talking up a hard drive enclosure capable of taking any 2.5in ATA-100 hard disk. It also contains an 802.11g adaptor and antenna, plus a pair of wired 10/100Mbps Ethernet ports. US $150 + the price of the hard drive. They've changed my perception--why did data storage just get more expensive?" Now now, this could actually be useful. tempest2i notes that there's a Macworld story as well.
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Asus Launching a Wi-Fi Hard Drive

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  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Saturday March 27, 2004 @02:04AM (#8687675)
    This is an interesting reminder about the "network data storage device" market. Cut those things open, and there's a standard HD plus the interface hardware it takes so that the drive can be reached over the network. In fact, cut open a USB 2.0 or Firewire HD and you'll find pretty much the same thing, and the same goes for external CD or DVD drives.

    So, for $150 plus the cost of whatever HD you'd like to use you can build your own "network data storage device". If you just want a HD hanging on the network, without any need for the rest of the features of a full grown file server, then this is the part you want.
    • by Dok Fenderson (650034) <dok@dok.homeunix.com> on Saturday March 27, 2004 @02:09AM (#8687692) Homepage
      $150 isn't really that bad considering that you need about $40 for a simple USB enclosure. If you're using three network adapters, one of which is wireless, and the controllers for each of those and the hard drive...it's not really that bad a deal. I can remember three years ago when Maxtor was selling 40 GB NAS units for upwards of a grand. $150 plus the drive deosn't seem that craptastic in those terms. Dok
      • The price for the hardware isn't that bad, as you say. But what about the utility? How would this change my perception of storage? I've been sitting here trying hard to think of a utility for the wireless capability that isn't handled better wired. The only utility I can think of is in an already completely wireless setting where one is too cheap to dedicate a computer to file serving - a situation I would think is pretty rare. Of course, I have a hard time understanding why several computers in a fixed location would be connected via wireless in the first place when going wired is cheaper, faster and more secure. Maybe I'm losing my geekiness.
        • by Dok Fenderson (650034) <dok@dok.homeunix.com> on Saturday March 27, 2004 @02:35AM (#8687798) Homepage
          As far as the wireless goes, I agree. But it also has the wired ethernet adapters on it which would come in handy. If you have a network of mainly older Pentiums or PIIs (they're still out there) that can't really handle a larger internal HDD and don't have USB 2.0 or IEEE 1394 then this would be a decent solution for large, shared storage. Dok
          • I was boxing day shopping at futureshop (canadian version of bestbuy I think) and I picked up a ximeta netdisk for $100 Canadian.

            I bought this thing mainly on coolness factor alone (wife almost made me take it back because she doesn't put the same value on coolness factor I guess).

            Anyhow, it is an 80gig harddrive with USB2.0 and 10/100 Ethernet all packaged in a cool blue metalic case. I also bought an internal harddrive of the same size for $50. I figured not a bad deal, $50 for the portability, and c
        • by Libraryman (721151) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @02:42AM (#8687815)
          Of course, I have a hard time understanding why several computers in a fixed location would be connected via wireless in the first place when going wired is cheaper, faster and more secure.

          Sometimes the speed/security/price advantages of wired in no way make up for the cable clutter. Imagine trying to hack two clusters of half a dozen e/iMacs into a small, school library. You can run wires over the floor (with channel if you are lucky) hubs in the center of each cluster, and presto, you ve ugly wires, trip wires, dozens of wires everywehere! Or one Airport base station, some access cards, and presto, every machine is on the net, nobody trips and calls OSHA on you.

          Now you throw one of these HD enclosures in a corner and host disc images of all your reference cds on it. (although I recognize the wireless is not a clear advantage as long as you're tucking it into a corner anyway)

          Not every application for a network requires speed, especially if all your network does is share internet access. 802.11b is still fast enough for web access, even streaming media.

          • Erm, surely you have to put the power in for these half dozen iMacs? You wouldn't get away with half a dozen trailing extension leads in a school, it would have to be done properly. So if you need to put the power in (which is quite a job, and has to conform to regs), then it isn't much more effort to put network cables in. I'd also say that the money you saved using network cards costing 2/3 instead of 20/25 makes it worth it.
            • That's true, but if you are lucky you have already got power outlets in the floor where you need them. If you're not, you let power availability decide where you put the computers. Computers aren't the first thing ever to need electricity, chances are it was already run to where you need it (or close), BEFORE there was a need for network cabling.

              Look around you, if you are not in a recently built office building I think you will find you are closer to a power outlet than an ethernet jack.

            • Erm, surely you have to put the power in for these half dozen iMacs?

              The obvious solution to this is to put a high-power high-density microwave transmission dish on each desk for power distribution. I can't wait to see the smiles on the childrens' faces when they see the clean productive learning environment I...BZZZzzZzzZTTtTTtt...oh dear god!
          • by Kjella (173770) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @05:03AM (#8688161) Homepage
            Sometimes the speed/security/price advantages of wired in no way make up for the cable clutter. Imagine trying to hack two clusters of half a dozen e/iMacs into a small, school library. You can run wires over the floor (with channel if you are lucky) hubs in the center of each cluster, and presto, you ve ugly wires, trip wires, dozens of wires everywehere! Or one Airport base station, some access cards, and presto, every machine is on the net, nobody trips and calls OSHA on you.

            Arguably, you'll need at the very least the cable gates for power anyway. I can't remember putting network cables in the same gates being a problem in any place I've been. And if there was, I suppose I'd just as easily trip over the power cord as the network cord...

            Actually, the use that came first to mind was using this along with a laptop - like an extended hard disk, no wires to plug/unplug. But, you're *very* likely to have a wireless router too, so why not simply hook it up there, with a cable?

            The only way I found a need for this is a) if I go to our summer house with my laptop, b) someone is staying at home so the router needs to stay and c) I want to take a couple extra hundred gigs of vids/whatever with me (usually, that's the time when I try to get something *else* done).

            If this was cheap enough, maybe it could be the "floppy" of tomorrow. A couple hundred gigs of data, no wires, just turn on wireless and transfer. Would be rather slick, but in my opinion it's a bit expensive for that use, a CD/DVD is something I can burn and borrow (or hell, give) away, not so sure about this one...

            Kjella
        • i agree that, in most cases, a wired connection is better.

          but, there are some cases where wires are a pain, especially given the increasing popularity of laptops. say you've got a laptop at home and no deskop machine. you get a wireless dsl router for your internet access. adding a wirless harddrive to this config makes perfect sense.

          -esme

        • The wireless aspect of something like this would be fantastic for on-the-spot networking such as lan parties or board meetings.

          This drive is a fantastic idea. For most users they don't want to open any PC to install a hard drive and something like this has the benefit of allowing large data clusters to be shared very easily.

          I'd like to get a couple and slap 300GB drives in them and use them for a replacement for carrying around stacks of DVDs. Rip the DVDs to the drives and port them around in a fraction
        • by Feanturi (99866) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @03:04PM (#8690401)
          3 computers, all IDE, all channels full. I don't want a whole extra server just to have more space, and switching to S-ATA is going to cost more than the $150 to just host an extra drive. Adding drives to boxen you also have to wonder about the power supply handling the extra load. So this looks cool to me, as none of my existing hardware resources need to change for me to wind up with more than I planned for.
    • by ottawanker (597020) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @02:41AM (#8687813) Homepage
      In fact, cut open a USB 2.0 or Firewire HD and you'll find pretty much the same thing, and the same goes for external CD or DVD drives.

      This is what's driving me crazy. I'm looking for a cheap Firewire IDE adapter so that I can make a nice fast external hard drive enclosure with about a Terabyte of space that I can connect using 1 Firewire connector. You can buy a whole external case for $40 or $50, but just a simple adapter with 2 Firewire ports so they can be chained together is $60 or $70.
  • Encryption? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 27, 2004 @02:07AM (#8687685)
    I hope it supports WPA. Ohhh, but imagine the fun of an "open" media drive. RIAA and the MPAA will really hate life.
  • by Amiga Lover (708890) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @02:08AM (#8687687)
    I remember when the iPod was first released a few people mentioned going into stores, plugging theirs into demo machines and taking copies of all the software they wanted in seconds.

    Without the need to plug anything in, imagine what could be nicked with one of these!
    • I remember going to a CompUSA...I had written a little shell script that would copy all the files I wanted to a hidden directory on my iPod. I launched the script and set it as a background task. The CompUSA employee came over to ask what I was doing with my iPod connected to the machine. I simply explained that I was testing out the new FCP with video clips on my iPod. He stood over my shoulder while everything copied, unbeknownst to him.

      I thanked him for his time, and left with what I wanted. :-)

  • by dj245 (732906) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @02:10AM (#8687693) Homepage
    erm, uh, toting that hard drive around in your backpack so you can have portable fileserver without a laptop? Thats my only idea, and a poor one at that. 2.5" disks are more rugged than their 3.5" counterparts, but not *much* more. I wouldn't want to be bouncing around everywhere with $250+ worth of fileserver plus NiMH batteries in my pocket. If you really want portable storage, a laptop isn't a whole lot bigger, and a lot more useful. Actually, now that I've read the article, the thing isn't even really portable, unless you hack a battery pack together yourself. Kinda silly premise for a product actually. Why not just make a full-blown router with hard drive? Certainly hybriding a $40 router to a $150 hard drive widget with wireless already can't be all that much more expensive. Just my $.02 Canadian.
    • by JPriest (547211) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @02:52AM (#8687844) Homepage
      I wish I could install one in my car, that way I could just drag and drop mp3's over to my car without having to burn them all to CD.
    • Area storage! I would imagine that walking around a physical building and having file sharing available for the location you are at would be kind of neat. The library could serve up interesting articles, while the student center might have PDF files of paperwork. You should still be able to connect remotely, but for simple Samba it would be great.

    • Actually, now that I've read the article...
      Score:-1, Read Article

      Psh, someone cancel parent's account...he's obviously not a real /. reader.
    • But do you want to buy a new laptop and carry it around for each hdd you want to share? These are small enough and cheap enough that you could easily carry several around. I'd like one of these with a 300GB drive. Put around 50 ripped DVDs or maybe 5,000 ripped CDs and plug them into your set top box. Much easier than carrying around the originals.

      A battery unit would be a useful add-on but for most uses plugging the unit in would work just fine.

      I think using 2.5" disks is a bad design decision (normal dr
    • by 0x20 (546659)
      How about always-on file serving that isn't dependent on any particular computer?

      For instance, I have 4 PCs in my house that are used as "media centers" at times. The problem is, my main storage drive is by necessity attached to the PC in my bedroom. I can't leave that PC on all the time because it generates noise and heat and uses energy. But if I want to watch movies or listen to music on the downstairs machine or the one in my daughter's room, I have to turn on the PC in the bedroom. This makes it diffi
  • by MavEtJu (241979) <slashdot@mave t j u . org> on Saturday March 27, 2004 @02:10AM (#8687694) Homepage
    It might be a NAS, but which protocols does it speak? NFS? Samba? FTP? DAV? Which authentication methods is it capable of? Can it authenticate against my (insert your favourite authentication service).

    Anybody has any ideas?
    • by richard_za (236823) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @02:56AM (#8687850) Homepage Journal
      It supports NFS [ohio-state.edu] and CIFS [samba.org] (which is basically the latest iteration of SMB) so it should so you can network with NFS or Samba, Windows/Linux.
      • It doesn't say that in any of the two linked articles!!! Are you reading something else? It says Sony once tried making such a device with NFS and CIFS. The only thing the articles say about the device in question is that it will support HTML web-based administration and sharing.
    • Could be iSCSI (scsi over TCP). I dont't see any other protocol that is standard/open/... that could be used.

      iSCSI works on Linux & Windows. All the traditionel NAS (Network Attached Storage) vendors use iSCSI to access block devices over the network.

      The other protocols are too much OS/application dependant, and I think it would be a bad idea for a vendor to use only one of them. Using both NFS (for Linux) & CiFS (for Windows) wouldn't be cost-effective. Plus not all apps work on such protocols (e
  • by Anonymous Coward
    What's the cheapest non-wireless Ethernet hard drive enclosure available? Anything less than USB 2.0 or FireWire enclosures?
  • It'd be pretty useful to just carry around a storage tablet from place to place, although large transfers would just kill some of the usability for regular users of the networks, since last I checked bandwidth was split N ways between N clients.
  • by Revvy (617529) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @02:13AM (#8687707) Homepage
    While the idea of an enclosure is nice, I think I'd rather spend the same amount of money on something that could be an access point, too. Netgear surprised me with their new router, the WGT634U [netgear.com], which offers a USB 2.0 port for attaching storage devices in addition to 108Mb turbo wi-fi. This is a trend I like.

    It's not the gear, it's the functionality.
  • by Sean Clifford (322444) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @02:14AM (#8687711) Journal
    Add the WiFi capability to an mp3 player with a hard drive like the iPod and all sorts of fun comes to mind. With 802.11g it wouldn't be as fast as firewire or usb 2.0, but it would be fast enough to suit most folks. Wirelessly update your music, or share it. Use it as a wireless hard drive, a personal backup device, storage for a wearable, and etc. etc. Bluetooth for wireless headphones and mike, integration with phone (to capture conversations, video or pictures from your phone's mexapixel camera).

    Then there's all the iPod cracking fun. "Let's see what that jogger has on his iPod..."

  • by tftp (111690) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @02:14AM (#8687713) Homepage
    The RF bandwidth is 2 or 10 Mbps, but really less, and not even guaranteed. Compare to 480 or 800 Mbps achieved over the wire, or Gbps over SATA. I see absolutely no reason to use such a device, except maybe in some obscure situations - such as when you have all-wireless network and need a portable network storage. But even then this would be a poor choice - you'd want RAID.
    • by LostCluster (625375) * on Saturday March 27, 2004 @02:18AM (#8687731)
      Network storage drives aren't as much about performance as much as simplicity. Afterall, if speed really matters to you, the data should already be local to your PC if possible.

      This is just a way to eliminate the needless parts from a low-end simple file server. Who needs to use a full-blown OS for that? Simpler software is often the most secure and faster.
      • This device is a strange mix of "simple user" mentality with much more advanced "wireless" and "server" concepts. I don't think there is a customer that fits.

        A simple, single user stores everything on his own HDD, locally. With modern HDDs starting at 80 GB it is not a surprise. Most users won't fill that HDD in whole usable life of the computer, and they don't need the server.

        A little more advanced user has several computers (a family, for example.) They may need a server to store shared files on. But

    • Actually I've gotten appallingly bad performance when I try to copy from one 802.11 client to another over a base station (any brand). I'm not sure why, but I suspect the collision rate goes through the roof as the device being copied from saturates the link on the way to the base station, and then the base station competes with it to forward packets to the device being copied to. Either that or I'm just doing something wrong.

      Anyone else successfully copied large files this way - wireless to wireless acros
      • When you plug a USB cable, the whole bandwidth of the cable is yours alone. When you use 802.11 you share this "cable" with everyone in radius of 500 ft. around you.

        Generally, performance-wise, wire is better than radio. You can't even compare the two, so different they are in terms of reliability. Given that modern USB and FireWire drives are 100% plug-and-play right out of the box, the wire definitely wins.

    • if you think about it, 2-10mbps is fine for certain application (also note it's 802.11g, which is roughly 60some mbps iirc). For example, if you want to stream music or video to a pc in your living room that much bandwith is plenty. Not everybody wants to run wires all over the place :).
    • RTFA: The enclosure also contains an 802.11g adaptor and antenna, plus a pair of wired 10/100Mbps Ethernet ports.
      • KTFT ("know" and "tech"): LaCie [lacie.com] is just one company that already offers ethernet drives [lacie.com] like this (sans wireless), and with much larger and faster hard drives than are possible with a 2.5" drive enclosure. Ximeta [ximeta.com] is another company in this field, and their 80GB Netdisk [ximeta.com] device (drive with Ethernet already on-board) is available right now at a price cheaper than this enclosure WITHOUT a drive. (Search Outpost, CompUSA, etc. for more information - I try not to link to retailers.)

        In short, unless there is a

    • by TummyX (84871) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @03:48AM (#8688002)
      I've been waiting for one of these things for a while.

      It'll let me use my pocket pc as my car MP3 player. I can have massive *wireless* storage in the boot or glove box. The bandwidth is fine for MP3 & video playback and the simplicity and tidyness of the setup makes up for the price.
    • Um, you plomp a 200GB disk in the thing. Sit in the middle of your house and have a massive file share between all of your computers. Sounds like a good idea specially if your house is wi'fi'ed up.

      You don't need a lot of speed for applications like streaming media, loading applications, saving documents, etc...

      I wouldn't use this as a primary drive of course for the speed issues but that doesn't make it totally useless.

      Tom
  • Overkill? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LostCluster (625375) * on Saturday March 27, 2004 @02:15AM (#8687714)
    Why does this device need to be both wired and wireless? Most users will use the device either by the wire, or as part of a purely WiFi network... who would use both interfaces? Seems like this device could be cheaper if it came in two different versions, one with the wired ports and the other with the WiFi parts.
    • Re:Overkill? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MavEtJu (241979) <slashdot@mave t j u . org> on Saturday March 27, 2004 @02:17AM (#8687728) Homepage
      Why does this device need to be both wired and wireless?

      It's probably cheaper to produce one unit which can do both than to make the two additional units (with all support/documentation/troubleshooting).
    • Re:Overkill? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by caitsith01 (606117)
      Um... presumably because, being external, part of the point of this is to move data between different PCs at will. Not all PCs have wireless, ergo, it is a good idea to have both options.
    • Re:Overkill? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by blowdart (31458) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @02:32AM (#8687787) Homepage

      Setup reasons for a start. If it only has WiFi, and your access point has WEP enabled (and if it doesn't, why the hell not?), how is the enclosure going to get the key to connect? You're going to have to plug it into a wired LAN (or crossover cable) to allow it to get an initial IP, fire up your web browser, browse to it, set the WEP key, let it connect then remove it from the wireless LAN.

      As an aside, whilst this is funky, no RAID is a drawback for me. That and my firewall at home is in transparent mode as I had a nice block of routable IP addresses that seemed more than enough 2 years ago when I just had 3 servers and a desktop. Now I have 3 servers, the xbox, the firewall, the wireless access point, 3 laptops in day to day use, another laptop which gets used by guests and if I add a NAS whammo, one IP left. It's going to be a pain to setup NAT *sigh*

    • Re:Overkill? (Score:2, Insightful)

      Why does this device need to be both wired and wireless? Most users will use the device either by the wire, or as part of a purely WiFi network... who would use both interfaces? Seems like this device could be cheaper if it came in two different versions, one with the wired ports and the other with the WiFi parts.

      Maybe so you can get the convenience of wireless access for small files, but can wire it up if you need to quickly copy across several dozen gb?

  • by Moocowsia (589092) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @02:16AM (#8687720)
    If you had one of these stashed in say a neighbors house with some illegal stuff on it and you got raided you could probably get away with it.. This could also be good for a close range offsite back up. Just have an agreement with a neighbor to keep a harddrive of eachothers at eachothers house in case of fire or some other disaster.
  • vulnerable (Score:5, Funny)

    by dirvish (574948) <dirvish@nOSPAm.foundnews.com> on Saturday March 27, 2004 @02:18AM (#8687732) Homepage Journal
    I think I have made my hard drive sufficiently vulnerable by installing Windows on it. Adding a Wi-Fi adapter directly to it seems a little over the top.
  • This is awesome. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 27, 2004 @02:21AM (#8687745)
    The $150 price tag is steep, so hopefully that will go down.

    But right now, I've got an almost fully wireless setup going with my 12" power book. Bluetooth mouse/keyboard, SE T610 phone for controlling iTunes, and an AirPort base station.

    This could be really usefull for storing iTunes music, bittorrents, etc, and sharing it across multiple computers easily.
  • Am i the only one who's initial reaction was "it still needs to be plugged into an outlet." It's not as if hard-drives are these hulking eyesores that we all wish we could hide under the kitchen sink.

    If their target is the home market, i don't know many people who go around thinking "gee, i wish i could have a hard drive sitting around hidden away, but not inside my computer case."

    If its a corporate market, i doubt any company would want their access being cut-off by some employee using a microwave to he
    • by Libraryman (721151) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @02:52AM (#8687843)
      If their target is the home market, i don't know many people who go around thinking "gee, i wish i could have a hard drive sitting around hidden away, but not inside my computer case."

      That's not so unlikley. If you do most of your computing on a laptop, or a tablet, or if you have a mythTV box, network attached storage that was always available would let you shut down your big desktop for a significant energy/noise savings.

      I'd love to have my a firewire-to-ethernet bridge to let my external FW drive beaccessible (albeit slowly) without crossing the room and plugging in. Plugging in the FW is still an option when copying DVD images or making backups, but if I just want to pull A file out of a backup, or access the gigs of mp3s that I moved off my laptop because I was running out of storage, why should I have to plug anything in, let alone leave an entire PC running turning money and electricity into heat while it does nothing.

    • Also notice that it has a 2.5" hard disk. Most FireWire drive enclosures that take a 2.5" disk are bus powered (and half the price), so you need exactly the same number of wires to use a drive like this wireless as you do wired.
  • by Perianwyr Stormcrow (157913) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @02:23AM (#8687753) Homepage
    from the if-you-don't-have-wifi,-what-do-you-have? dept.

    wires
  • This is what I've always wanted for my less... um... public files. I would love to have one of these things stashed discreetly around my house, with the power switch easily accessible. That way, if there are any issues it's simply a matter of flicking a switch and anything incriminating/sensitive disappears from the network.

    I would like to know what security this thing has, though. Would it be possible to use PGP or similar to encrypt the contents and thereby limit access only to certain physical computers
    • Re:Alternatives? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Hanzie (16075) *
      Yeah. You can do this with an entire PC with an encrypted file system. Just use an 802.11b network connection for it, and you can power it off when the black vans pull up outside.

      I would recommend a journaled file system like ReiserFS. I wouldn't use a laptop for this, since killing the AC will only make it run on batteries.

      If you're extra paranoid, just make sure you have a very similar looking PC with the same IP, and other names and plenty of legit files you need to access (I recommend harmless biki
  • Useful? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cmallinson (538852) *
    I don't think this will be useful for many people. If you have a WIFI network, then I would assume you have a computer on the network that could hold a shareable hard drive, should you wish to have more disk space. Sure, the cool factor is there, but is it very practical?
    • Re:Useful? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by absurdhero (614828)
      Yes. It is. The fact that someone marked such a stupid question insightful is idiotic. Questions rarely provide insight and obvious questions like that never do. Anyway, enough ranting. To answer your question, I would really like one of these because I have a wireless laptop that I only plug in when i need it at my desk. Like, to plug in my ipod or my current firewire external drive. I plug it into an ethernet network in this case. But if I am on a my couch wireless, I cannot access that drive. "But wirele
  • offsite data backup (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SKPhoton (683703) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @02:31AM (#8687785) Homepage
    Actually, this might be a fun solution for off-site data backup. Go hide one outside somewhere (preferrably in a locked, powered container) and mount a pringles can off of the antenna. Assuming no one walks off with your new drive, you've got offsite storage!
  • by Pan T. Hose (707794) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @02:33AM (#8687794) Homepage Journal
    With no doubt, this must be the biggest security hole I have seen lately. 802.11g [schneier.com] directly to the hard drive. Bravo. Is this an April Fool's joke posted prematurely or are they really out of their minds thinking that anyone would be so stupid to buy such a hard drive, which is basically asking to be cracked? I find it insulting. I hope script kiddies will [shmoo.com] have [signaltonoise.net] lots [drizzle.com] of [schneier.com] fun [nist.gov].
  • Don't bitch (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AvantLegion (595806) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @02:53AM (#8687845) Journal
    Just because you don't have a use for it, doesn't mean that nobody does.

  • Some possible uses (Score:5, Informative)

    by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @03:19AM (#8687920) Journal
    Say that the only PC you got is a laptop you use both at home and at work. Now a decent laptop has got a fair bid of storage so unless you have specific needs having one of the firewire/usb external drives is probably obsolete for office use. Anyway there are heavy duty laptops with dual HD's.

    But when you add home use people might want to store movies and music and ehehm nature programs on their laptop but not actually have it present on the laptop. Sure you could then at your desk at home have a usb/firewire external drive but that means you loose the mobility of a laptop. It can be fun working on the floor or sofa. Some laptops have tv outs so put the laptop on the tv and watch your downloads on the big screen.

    This wifi drive would then allow you to access your own files at home without any need for plugging in cables. Just put the thing somewhere central and your laptop is hooked up just like you use a wifi network station to allow you to use the laptop without cat5 cables.

    Frankly this is the only real use I can see. The WIFI-HD needs to be powered by a powercord and that means it ain't all that mobile. So it can't be used to give you PDA a storage boost. Using it in the office is pretty lame as it ads another security risk, an other piece of software to admin and its function can be easily duplicated with the existing file server.

    But for people with only laptops at home it could make sense.

    Only other possible use might be people with a PDA who are not close to a PC like setup but who are closed to something like a car. But it would have to be small operations as something like the Police Ambulance would have access to far better solutions. Maybe something for a mechanic? Store all the schematics and data on the WIFI-HD. Give him a pda and as long as he is within range of his car he got all the data in the world. Cheaper then pulling data over mobile phone lines.

    Mmmm, might not be such a bad gadget after all.

  • Light Storage (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nfotxn (519715)
    I guess bluetooth isn't fast enough. But it would rule to see small form factor, low power consuming hdd's with battery built in. Then whatever devices utilizing the media off the hdd can be smaller and you can stow your mp3s, video, pictures etc. in your backpack or back pocket or something. We're not talking high performance here. I'm sure you could stream an mp3 over bluetooth with the right sized buffer. 802.11b/g seems like overkiller for a portable application.
  • by tigersha (151319) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @03:27AM (#8687945) Homepage
    Firewall, what firewall?? (Unless, of course, its made of lead).

    You just need to get close!

  • "they've changed my perception--why did data storage just get more expensive?"

    -and complicated (obviously not for the likes of us, but needless to say the likes of us can figure something less expensive and far more useful out.)

    I fail to understand why the industry is trying to decentralize the elements of computers and electronics. At the same time it's still just as easy and less expensive to put it in a computer or share a hard drive on the network.

    EVEN plugging an existing external hard drive in
  • by levram2 (701042) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @04:16AM (#8688062)
    Netgear makes a device like this, the WGT634U, which is also a broadband router with hard drive support. The product literature only lists versions of windows as supported. But the USB Hard disks can be formatted with FAT, FAT32, NTFS (read only), and Linux file systems according to a support page. The drive can be accessed by ftp or smb.

    Netgear has gpl source for a few of their models here: ftp://downloads.netgear.com/files/GPL/
  • what about an ipod dock, or attachement, that is a wireless adpater. think about it "update your music collection while its plugged into your cd player" that would be very cool and would help the uptake of 40 gig ipods methinks. id prefer to pay $150 for that!
  • it uses?

    PC wifi equipment is known for only working with the same manufacturer's equipment.

    So will they sell a HD with Uniden Wifi?

    and one with D-Link Wifi?

    And Belkin Wifi?

  • Keep your WiFi HD in a vent or something. Recharge as necessary, maybe run a power line into that secret spot. If politzei raid your house and steal - i mean, confiscate everything that looks techie, you wait until they are gone and then run to someone you trust with your WiFi HD. let them copy it, and return before the bad guys return to say "ho, wait a minute, we have records here of another drive. hand it over." you gladly and apologetically give them the device knowing that (a) your data is safe and
  • by fmaxwell (249001) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @05:08AM (#8688170) Homepage Journal
    They've changed my perception--why did data storage just get more expensive?"

    That's like bitching that a 40GB iPod is $500 when you can go to Best Buy and get a 40GB hard drive for $60. This does so much more than a bare hard drive that comparing the two on a cost-per-gigabyte basis is absurd.

    With the Asus device, you are getting an ultraportable network attached storage device (with a pair of wired 10/100Mbps Ethernet ports) that also speaks WiFi over 802.11g. It has security managed with a web-based interface which allows you to specify which clients have read access, read/write access, no access, etc.

    What a neat filesharing device! Load it up with your favorite MP3s (for which you hold copyright, of course), set it on a table. and let all of your friends access the music, adding or removing as they see fit.
  • by sarvik (762713) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @05:25AM (#8688202)
    get a reasonably long cable, spread it across the room,
    attach your new ATA hard disks to it and don't bother
    closing the case
  • Silly idea (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lurgen (563428) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @05:30AM (#8688216) Journal
    Data storage that not only is seriously expensive, but far too slow for any real use. I have an 802.11G wireless network here at home and while it's fine for basic tasks like Internet access and moving small files around it's slow.

    Despite claiming to be 54mbit, it really only gets 8 - 20 mbit even when I sit right next to the access point. There are a bunch of technical reasons why this is so, but the bottom line is that disk should be fast. ATA20 isn't a disk standard because people want ATA150. They'd buy ATA600 if it were possible, because disk is already the slowest part of our computers.

    Making it slower is just stupid marketing guys trying to figure out how else to get rid of 15 million spare wireless chips.
  • Hardware, spyware? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cpghost (719344) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @06:17AM (#8688283) Homepage

    A Wi-Fi hard drive can also be a security nightmare! Anyone with the right equipment (a wifi card and a decent laptop) could eavesdrop, and even modify data on-the-fly. Using encrypted filesystems is a *must* in such a case, and even then, data integrity would still be in jeopardy.

    It may be possible to turn the tranceiver off, but you must trust the manufacturer that no back-door can be remotely opened.

    So how do you shield such drives? TEMPEST protection is already hard enough without this...

    The biggest issue here is not to stay clear of such equipment (if you have security objections), but to ensure that vanilla (non-wifi) hardware doesn't have WiFi chips you don't know anything about!

    It's a bad feeling to know that your computer could (passively, thus undetected) listen to RF, and behave in strange ways. We're on the brink of hardware that could be used as spyware. A scary thought!

  • by Etienne Steward (677851) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @06:32AM (#8688314)
    ...boot from it? This would be an interesting option to explore... You could have a completely mobile, moduluar computer...You want to change hard drives, or have a faster CPU, no sweat -- connect to a different component.

  • Yet another example of why having a "Captive Portal" on your wireless network will cause problems.

    How will the hard drive log on?

    I wrote about this in my blog yesterday before the story came out:

    http://www.tux.org/~serge/archives/permalinks/2004 -03-26T07_44_37.html [tux.org]

  • by Henry Stern (30869) <henry@stern.ca> on Saturday March 27, 2004 @08:17AM (#8688489) Homepage
    One of the primary design constraints for home theatre PCs is that they need to be absolutely silent. Since hard drives can be noisy, keeping the number of drives in your system to a minimum should be important. Many people (myself included) use networked fileservers to serve media to their HTPCs.

    These little boxes seem like just the ticket. Imagine a diskless HTPC. All that you would need to do is boot it over the network and mount the drive in the Asus enclosure as your root filesystem. If you were to use a Via C3-based motherboard and a power supply with passive cooling, you could then have an HTPC with no moving parts and thus, totally silent.
  • "Dude, i think somebody just uploaded a whole bunch of warez to my WiFi disc from the parking lot".
  • With all this wireless crap, you start wondering about "cloud computing", where wireless processors, storage, software, etc could have a "central node" for a cloud and then you could have processes spawn spontaneously on processors/storage as they came into the cloud.
  • CD-Rom? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by xanadu-xtroot.com (450073) <xanadu.inorbit@com> on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:05AM (#8688801) Homepage Journal
    Can we get this in a CD drive? I wish there was a way to have a "remote" cd drive. That is the only thing holding me back from tossing my machine in the closet. I can get a 25 foot KVM cable, but, when I want to play a game (no-cd "fixes" aside), I have to go over there and pop in the CD. Can I have a CD drive sitting on my desk with the machine itself sitting in the closet?
    • get a Firewire (or USB 2.0) based drive. Not perfect since you'd have to run a cable, but it would be workable.
  • My version is a little more advanced:

    Mini-itx motherboard in a portable enclosure, although I might switch it down to a Nano-itx now that they're becoming available.

    250gig 3.5" hard drive instead of a 2.5 mainly cause they're half the price and hold twice the storage.

    CD-RW

    802.11g

    FM audio transmitter

    Small battery pack. It only needs to run everything for 10 minutes.

    12-volt Power Supply

    No screen; No keyboard

    The idea of this is a portable storage / mp3 player. All controls are through it's Apach

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