On Friday, Cloud Engines released its newest version of the Pogoplug, a small "multimedia sharing device" that connects hard drives to the Internet and allows a user to access the files remotely. The company described Pogoplug as "your own personal cloud that broadcasts safely from your home."
You connect Pogoplug to your router by Ethernet, attach hard drives or USB flash drives, and then access files by logging in from anywhere through a browser. You can also securely give access to others for downloading or uploading, the company said.
Drives Can Appear Local
The shared content can be searched remotely by file type or other parameters and, with a downloadable desktop application, the drives can work as if they were local to whatever machine you happen to be on. Mobile-compatible devices include iPhone, BlackBerry and Android-based phones.
The newest Pogoplug offers multiple USB ports for as many as four external drives, a drag-and-drop interface to create slide and audio shows, and capabilities for sharing with friends on social-networking sites.
Essentially, Pogoplug is a gateway to deliver your content to yourself or others from a home or office through the Internet. Cloud Engines CEO Daniel Putterman said the company is "giving our customers the best way to access their data from anywhere in the world."
The newest incarnation of this product enables Pogoplug to sync with a Mac or PC, so content can be automatically imported from iTunes, Windows Media Player, or iPhoto. With this "set it and forget it" feature, users can access new photos, videos or music remotely.
The new model also allows creating a slideshow of photos, videos and music, and then sharing the show via a link. There's an address book to share e-mail addresses, and global search across multiple Pogoplugs and drives. Videos can be played back directly from Pogoplug.
Ross Rubin, director of industry analysis for consumer technology at the NPD Group, described Pogoplug as "one of the few products to share media with others outside of the home." He noted that it's a network-attached storage device for consumers. A NAS is a network-connected device whose sole purpose is to provide file storage for the network, a kind of stripped-down file server.
With Pogoplug, hard drives or USB flash drives can have a more prominent role without going through a computer. Similarly, other kinds of peripherals are also finding an independent life without requiring a computer.
For instance, Hewlett-Packard's DreamScreen can pull relevant content and information from the Web, connect to Facebook, and present photos, music or video. Some HP printers are stand-alone, multi-featured devices that can print web-based content without a computer. And ASUS' Eee Keyboard is a full computer with Wi-Fi and a five-inch touchscreen.