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We were very impressed with the iTunes server functions as the N2100 appeared automatically as a music source in our iTunes client interface. We changed our preferences to point to the predefined public iTunes folder on the N2100 and could then import CDs directly to this location. The N2100 has an extra button on the front panel that ties in with the USB port underneath. Attaching a USB storage device and then pressing the button will cause the entire contents of the device to be copied to a predefined service folder on the appliance. It’s also worth noting that the contents of any USB storage device will also be shared publicly on insertion.
Only the CIFS/SMB protocols are supported and shared folders are created directly from the web interface, where you can implement ACLs (access control lists) using local username and password combinations and group memberships. Good levels of control means each user and group can be denied access or allowed read only or full write access to specific shares. For all public folders you can access them directly from a browser and view files, music and personal photo galleries. The gallery option is unfortunately very poorly documented and to function requires a folder for each user under which sub-folders must be created. Any image in the user’s root folder will simply not be displayed.
Wireless capabilities are on the cards as you can pop a wireless USB dongle into the unit which will cause a new WLAN option to appear in the management interface under the Network section. Security options are reasonable as you can turn on SSID masking, implement 64/128-bit WEP encryption and modify wireless DHCP settings. We used a 3Com 3CRUSB10075 USB adapter successfully but take note that the only other adapters supported are Zyxel’s G220USB and the GW-US54mini from Planex Communications. The motherboard does also have a mini-PCI slot for a wireless card and a hole at the back for an aerial but there is no indication that this is supported on the N2100.
The N2100 is a smart networked storage solution for home users wanting to share photo albums, music and general files. The iTunes server features make this particularly versatile although we found Western Digital hard drives the best choice for cool running.
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