Media streaming is finally starting become an essential part of any credible home entertainment system. The ability to watch to a video or listen to a music file stored on a network device seems such a simple idea but it has taken a while for the concept to reach the mass market. The Buffalo Linkstation Pro provides 2TB of network attached storage with some neat features too.
I was first introduced to the world of streaming while studying abroad in Singapore in 2005, a mecca for South-East Asian technology enthusiasts. I’d always wanted an easy way to watch the movies I downloaded to my laptop and struggled to find anything cheap enough and good enough to do the job. I finally came across the Snazzi Net Cinema HD, which did exactly what I wanted: streamed media files across our wireless network. I’m still using it as a media receiver 5 years later – although its now been relegated to the bedroom - and it has never let me down.
Anyway, I’ll get to the point of my review! After a few years it bothered me that I had to leave my power-hungry PC switched on if I ever wanted to stream anything to my PS3 and to my Net Cinema HD so I started searching for a solution that got around this issue. Of course I’d heard of NAS drives but thought that their use was more limited to an office environment as a central store for documents. It was only when I started digging a little deeper that I found out the latest incarnations served as a DLNA compatible streamer – the exact solution I wanted!
Downloading HD movies has become much more common place over the last few years and can quite quickly eat into your hard drive space – I managed to fill 250GB on my regular external hard drive within 6 months so I needed my NAS drive to be as big as possible and as fast as possible (to save time while transferring files).
I settled on the Buffalo Linkstation Pro 2TB, which is also available as a 1TB and a 1.5TB version. It represented the best value for money as it was the cheapest 2TB NAS drive I could find. It was also quoted at having a write speed of 32.6 MB/Sec - more than two and a half times that of its sister product, the Buffalo Linkstation Live (12.3 MB/Sec). It also appeared to be the best looking of all the drives I looked at – who wants an ugly black box stuck under their TV?
The drive was smaller than expected, it being around 6 inches in height, but it fitted perfectly on my TV stand. Of course, eager to get going, I went straight to the web interface to set up my Linkstation and found everything to be set up already – I didn’t really need to do anything apart from install the software to my PC. This was quickly done and automatically mapped the network drive to enable easy file transfer. I then copied across an episode of The Simpsons to test the streaming capabilities to the PS3 and the video played perfectly.
I then began to transfer the rest of the contents of my hard drive – a word of warning: don’t do this wirelessly as it will take around a week to transfer 250GB. If you have a Gigabit Ethernet connection, this will be around the same speed as a USB 2.0 connection so make sure you use this!
Another bonus of the Buffalo Linkstation is that it has a built-in Bit Torrent client, enabling you to download files without your PC needing to be switched on – the girlfriend always gives me an earful when I leave the computer to download things overnight. This is all controlled by the same web configuration interface as before, but the client itself does seem somewhat basic – all you really have is the ability to limit your download speed and decide what port to use.
All in all, if you choose a Buffalo Linkstation as your streaming solution you will be hard pushed to find a better one. The only thing that lets it down is the functionality of its Bit Torrent client, but from what I’ve read, no other NAS has a better Bit Torrent client – they all appear to be very basic.
This review was provided in partnership with Oyyy.co.uk