Of all the tech appliances you might want to prominently display, a mundane network attached storage device probably falls about 78th on most people’s lists, right after VoIP desk phones and before network switches. LaCie’s Network Space 2 may change that. The attractive 1TB NAS sports an exterior design as clean and intuitive as the software that runs it. As we found out, it’s also just as basic as its shape – but entry-level consumers might not mind the lack of high-end features or Formula One performance.
On the surface, the Network Space 2 is merely a hard drive you plug into a network to access it from a number of machines – a networked attached storage devices (NAS) in its most basic form. But its feature set does extend a bit beyond merely providing a shared pool of files between computers.
Because it includes a USB cable, the Network Space 2 can act like a portable USB drive, allowing you to physically cart files from place to place where networks may reach. A front USB slot also allows you to plug in additional storage – like a thumb drive – and access it over the network, or connect a printer and have the Network Space 2 serve as a watt-friendly print server.
LaCie’s built-in software for the Network Space 2 also provides a number of power features. You can download torrents directly to the drive, create and control access for multiple users, and even turn it into a uPNP server for streaming media files to compatible devices – like watching movies on an Xbox 360.
That said, it’s also worth pointing out that the Network Space 2 lacks frills many competitors have been adding, like Wi-Fi, remote access capabilities, one-touch file transfer, and only has one USB port.
LaCie makes much ado of the fact that the Network Space 2 was designed by industrial design rock star Neil Poulton. Design might be too strong a word for the minimalism Poulton has employed here: It’s literally a glossy black box with ports in it. A blue power light up front that projects a bright square onto the surface it sits on is clever, but otherwise there’s not much going on here. Don’t take that as a jab: We much prefer the clean lines and understated elegance of this design to some of the over-engineered monstrosities we’ve seen elsewhere, and the whole box has a very solid feel to it.