Soho Storage Strikes A Chord At CES

Several vendors used CES to unveil storage devices for home and small-business networks, including products that can serve stored data across wireless networks.

January 7, 2005

7 Min Read
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The International Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Las Vegas, has become a primary venue for the introduction of new storage products, thanks in part to the demise of Comdex and storage vendors' efforts to expand the range of storage devices for consumers and small businesses.

Several vendors used the show to unveil storage devices for home and small-business networks, including products that can serve stored data across wireless networks.

On the wireless side, Austin, Texas-based Buffalo Technology took the wraps off its Wireless LinkStation Network Storage Center. The device, available in capacities of 120 Gbytes to 300 Gbytes, is similar to the company’s wired LinkStation product but includes built-in 802.11g capability, an Ethernet connector and two USB 2.0 connectors.

With those connectors, the Wireless LinkStation can serve files plus act as a wireless access point and a print server, said Morikazu Sano, vice president of product marketing at the company. Wireless LinkStation’s FTP server functionality also helps SOHO users who need to share large files, he added.

The Wireless LinkStation, expected to ship next month, is one of Buffalo's first products aimed at solution providers, Sano said. The company has been distributing its products through Tech Data and through Syracuse, N.Y.-based Wynit, and it has just signed on with Ingram Micro and D&H Distributing, he said.The Wireless LinkStation is priced at $329 for the 120-Gbyte model, $249 for the 160-Gbyte unit, $449 for the 250-Gbyte version and $549 for the 300-Gbyte model.

Cisco Systems’ Linksys division, meanwhile, unveiled a new digital media adapter that supports the Digital Transmission Content Protection Over IP (DTCP-IP) standard, which lets media adapters move Internet-based content from a PC or other devices to a wired or wireless home network, according to the Irving, Calif.-based vendor.

The Linksys Wireless-G Media Link comes with 802.11g wireless capability, an Ethernet port and a USB 2.0 port for moving music and photo files, as well as Internet content from a PC to a television or a stereo. It supports high-definition television resolution, as well as MPEG-4 and WMV files. The product is expected to be available through direct and indirect channels in the second quarter. Pricing has yet to be determined.

For small businesses and home users not yet ready for wireless, vendors also showcased a host of wired storage devices at CES.

Maxtor introduced an alternative to network-attached storage (NAS) appliances for small businesses that installs quickly and offers solution providers opportunities to help clients handle a variety of storage tasks. The Maxtor Shared Storage solution is a single hard drive with an external housing and a 10/100 Mbits-per-second Ethernet port that plugs into a home or small-business network, said Paul Streit, senior manager of branded marketing at Maxtor, Milpitas, Calif. It differs from the vendor’s OneTouch external hard drive, which is designed to connect to a single PC rather than to a network, he said.Slated to ship next month, the Maxtor Shared Storage solution offers cost-effective shared storage for small businesses and home users looking to improve their data backup and archiving capabilities, Streit said. The product is expected to list at $400 for the 300-Gbyte version and $300 for the 200-Gbyte model, he said.

Although Maxtor plans to sell the Maxtor Shared Storage solution through retailers, direct marketers and distributors such as Bell Microproducts and Ingram Micro, the appliance offers solution providers upsell opportunities with small-business customers, according to Streit. For instance, he said, a small graphics shop might be looking to set up a network with print and storage capabilities.

"We think this will be an attractive arrow in a solution provider’s quiver," Streit said. "VARs are called upon to add a much broader set of capabilities than customers can handle themselves."

Santa Ana, Calif.-based SimpleTech--which in November said it plans to move from the custom flash memory, DRAM and hard-drive space to the NAS market--showed its new SimpleShare NAS appliance to digital integrators and solution providers at CES.

The company this month plans to start shipping a 160-Gbyte SimpleShare model for $299 and a 250-Gbyte version for $399. The units include two USB 2.0 ports, to which external hard drives or Flash memory drives can be connected to expand capacity, as well as a built-in print server.SimpleTech is targeting digital integrators that set up home networks. In the SOHO space, as well as for businesses with remote offices or separate workgroups, the vendor aims to work with more traditional solution providers, company officials said.

Iomega is using CES to spotlight some new SOHO storage products, said Brad Nelson, product general manager at the San Diego-based storage vendor. The Triple Interface external hard drive, which began shipping last week, features USB 2.0, FireWire 400 and FireWire 800 ports and is earmarked for customers that carry their data to different locations but aren't sure how it will be connected, he said.

The Triple Interface drive lists at $199 for the 160-Gbyte model, $279 for the 250-Gbyte version and $429 for the 400-Gbyte model, Nelson said. The product also includes Iomega Automated Backup software for touch-free backups on Windows-based PCs and Dantz Retrospect backup software for Mac users.

Also new from Iomega is the Network Hard Drive, a 160-Gbyte or 250-Gbyte external hard drive with a built-in Ethernet port, Nelson said. It includes a four-seat license for Iomega Automatic Backup software plus applications for serving music and photo files. A new version with increased software automation is expected to be released in April, he added.

Iomega also enhanced its Super DVD Writer drive with 16x DVD+R and DVD-R write speed, 4x rewrite speed, and 16x read speed. The drive, due out in February, is priced at $189, said Nelson.On the software end, Iomega officials said the company has made an investment in ByteTaxi, the Austin, Texas-based developer of FolderShare software. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed. Over the next few years, Iomega plans to work with ByteTaxi to develop new versions of the software, Nelson said. A file management application, FolderShare allows Windows users to set up secure peer-to-peer networks for file sharing with invited users.

Showing off its wired storage expertise at CES, Buffalo Technology introduced the TeraStation, a storage server with four 250-Gbyte hard drives for capacity of up to 1-Tbyte, depending on whether RAID or mirroring capabilities are used, Sano said. The device includes four USB 2.0 ports, a built-in print server, and FTP server support. The product, due to ship next month, carries an estimated street price of $1,000 to $1,300, he said.

Other new storage hardware rolled out at CES aims to make more capacity available to a wider range of users.

Hitachi Global Storage Technologies introduced “Mikey,” a one-inch microdrive for use in mobile phones, music players and media players. The new drive, slated to ship in the second half of this year, will have a capacity of between 8 Tbytes and 10 Tbytes, said Bill Healey, vice president of product strategy and marketing at the San Jose, Calif.-based company.

Another new offering from Hitachi is Slim, a 1.8-inch hard drive for music players, media players and sub-notebook PCs or PDAs, Healey said. Capacity for the drives, also due for release in the second half, will run 60 Gbytes to 80 Gbytes, he said.Earmarked for digital video recorders, high-end game desktops and data center secondary storage devices is Hitachi's new 500-Gbyte, SATA-II hard drive. Healey said the product, expected to ship late this quarter, offers the largest capacity of any hard drive. The company also unveiled 250-Gbyte and 80-Gbyte versions of its SATA-II drives.

Also on the hard-drive front, Seagate Technology unwrapped its DB35-series 400-Gbyte drive, which the Scotts Valley, Calif.-based vendor can handle up to 10 simultaneous standard TV streams for use in digital video recorders. Other new products from Seagate at CES include the CompactFlash Photo Hard Drive, which stores 2.5 Gbytes or 5 Gbytes of photos in digital cameras with a Compact Flash Type II interface, and a new external hard drive that comes in capacities of 200, 300 and 400 Gbytes. The drive includes two USB 2.0 ports, FireWire connectors and a push-button backup capability, according to Seagate.

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