Category Archives: cloud

Polkcast Creates Your Personal Cloud



Polkast LaptopPolkast thinks that it’s better to have your files in your control in your home or office rather than the nebulous cloud. Andy talks to Dave from Polkast on how they do this but still give you access from your smartphone.

Polkast consists of two components, a server app that’s installed on the PC or Mac where all the documents and files are stored. A client app goes on your smartphone or tablet, and both iOS and Android devices are supported, including the Kindle Fire.

The client app is much like any media player interface with icons for music, photos, videos, documents and so on. You can browse for the media you want and show photos or play music.

For a single PC or Mac, Polkast offer a free service, no matter how many client devices connect. For multiple PCs or Macs, the premium service costs $4.99 per month (though this option doesn’t seem to be available on the website yet).

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and RV News Net.

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Dolly Drive Cloud Backup for Time Machine



Dolly Drive Time Machine Cloud DriveApple’s Time Machine has been a lifesaver for many people, especially when they’ve accidentally deleted an important file. However, it doesn’t protect against fire, flood or theft when everything is lost. Enter Dolly Drive, a Time Machine-compatible cloud-based backup service.

Available as a subscription service based on data usage, Dolly Drive looks like another Time Machine target to OS X and once setup, will store revisions and changes to the cloud, giving the security of off-site backup.

Included as part of the deal, subscribers are sent a hard drive via courier to return and seed their Dolly Drive for the first time. This avoids a lengthy upload over broadband when the service is first started and the whole disk is copied.

Prices start at $5 per month for 50 GB but a more representative subscription is $10 pcm for 250 GB. As a bonus, 5 GB is added each month for free.

Interview by Andy McCaskey and Courtney Wallin of SDR News and RV News Net.

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Polkast: Making Your Computer the Cloud



Cloud base solutions for accessing the data on your computer off site are great, but they have their limitations. First they are slow, because everything has to upload to the cloud first before you can access it off site. Second most cloud solutions have a limit on how much you can store on their sites. Third they can get expensive if you have to store a lot and finally you have to depend on them to be up.

What if you made your computer the cloud, that is the solution that Polkast came up with. You install the Polkast server on the computer you want to access the files from and then the Polkast app on your mobile devices including your smart phone, tablets or lap top. You can then access the files on that computer from anywhere in the world as long as the server is running. To access files using Polkast you have to sign in with a user name and password. Everything is encrypted while going from PC to PC or mobile device. Unlike a cloud base solution there is no storage limitation and it is as fast as your local ISP. You can share specific files with other people by email or through their Polkast account. The service is free for one computer for multiple devices it is $49.95 a year. If you are looking for a way to access your home files on the road, but are wary of a cloud solution, this might be a solution for you.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central and Don Baine The Gadget Professor of Geek News Central

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Sony Connects Up At CES



Sony LogoSony‘s CES focus this year is on electronics, content and network services combining to deliver high quality entertainment anytime and anywhere. Supported by a slew of product announcements, new connected devices range from TVs, Blu-ray players and A/V receivers through to tablets, smartphones and PCs and on to camcorders and mobile music players. Sony is combining these with online services for music, video and game delivery, creating a great user experience (as they say). TVs, PCs, smartphones and tablets are key to this experience as the four main devices used for entertainment.

Sony is committed to designing technologies for every aspect of consumer entertainment – in or out of the home, on the go, in the air, at work, at play, or wherever life takes you,” said Kazuo Hirai, Executive Deputy President, Sony Corporation. “When these products are combined with Sony Entertainment Network (SEN), which offers innovative services like Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited, as well as PlayStation Network, the user experience is truly unmatched and only made possible by a company like Sony.”

The Bravia TV line has been expanded in all three areas; entry level BX, step-up EX and flagship HX. Brightness and contrast levels have been increased and picture quality improved with Sony’s X-Reality and Motionflow video technologies. In particular the latter helps to reduce blur caused by rapid camera movements which is often a problem with LCD screens. Sony is sticking with the Google TV platform with a new network player and Blu-ray player featuring Google TV. Certain Bravia models will link seamlessly to these devices to provide Google TV features directly on the TV.

Sony Xperia ion smartphoneSony’s Vaio range of computers will continue to be updated with more entertainment feature and new designs that fit with consumers’ needs and increasing mobility. At CES, Sony will be demonstrating new technologies and prototypes for a range of technologies including glasses-free 3D.

In the smartphone space, the Xperia brand has done reasonably well, but increasing the smartphone share in North America is now one of Sony’s highest priorities. Sony Ericsson will be subsumed into Sony Mobile Communications and all new phones will carry Sony branding. The latest addition to the Xperia line-up is the Xperia ion, Sony’s first LTE smartphone coming with an HD 720p display and aluminium body. Also new is the Xperia S which comes with 3D image capture.

Sony Bloggie LiveOn the imaging front, no less than 13 new Handycam camcorders are being unveiled. A new image stabilisation system called Balanced Optical Steady Shot has been developed that controls the complete optical path from lens to sensor as a single floating unit. This reduces handshake blur by up to 13 times compared to the previous models. There’s a new camcorder model with a built-in video projector that has improved brightness and enhanced audio. The trusty Bloggie range now has a “Live” model which will live stream HD video over a Wi-Fi connection and there’s an unboxing over at sister channel TPN.tv. Of course, Sony has a bunch of new Cybershot digital still cameras.

Z Series Audio MP3 PlayerFinally, it wouldn’t be CES if Sony didn’t announce a Walkman or two. The new Z series of MP3 players comes with an application interface and connectivity to both Sony’s Music Unlimited and the Android Market. Content can be played from Z series devices either wirelessly using DLNA or via HDMI to Bravia TVs. To further improve the audio experience, no less than eleven new Balanced Armature earbud-style headphones are now available as well.

That’s it – a quick overview of the products on show at CES by Sony and they all look like fun.


Pogoplug Series 4 for Your Own Cloud



Pogoplug LogoRegular readers will recall that I was quite taken with the integration of Pogoplug into the Buffalo CloudStation Duo, so I was very interested to hear that Pogoplug have released a new device, the Series 4. If you aren’t familiar with the Pogoplug device, it’s a network gadget that makes attached USB devices available across the Internet. In short, you can make your own personal cloud. More recently, Pogoplug has released a cloud service that complements the hardware devices.

Unsurprisingly, the Pogoplug Series 4 is the 4th generation of their of their original device, and while retaining the form factor of the Pogoplug Mobile, the devices now includes four different connection types for hooking up hard drives and other media.

  • 2x USB 3.0
  • 1x USB 2.0
  • 1x 2.5” SATA / USM / Seagate GoFlex ultra-portable drives
  • 1x SD card slot
New to the Pogoplug range is plug-and-play support for Seagate’s GoFlex external drives and other products that have adopted the new universal storage module standard (USM). There’s a gigabit Ethernet port for connecting the Series 4 to the network.
Series 4 Pogoplug
Series 4 Pogoplug ports
Owners can make their photos and videos available to friends and family over the Internet to PCs and mobile devices such as iPhones, Android smartphones and WebOS devices. The new Series 4 is designed to be an extension of the Pogoplug Cloud service. 5GB of cloud storage is available for free and premium options for 50GB and 100GB will be offered shortly.

The Pogoplug Series 4 is on-sale now for an RRP of $99.99.


Buffalo CloudStation Duo Hands-On Review



On test here is the 2 TB version of Buffalo‘s CloudStation Duo, a RAID-capable NAS with built-in Pogoplug, giving the user their own personal cloud.

Buffalo CloudStation Duo with PogoPlug

The CloudStation Duo is squarely aimed at the prosumer market, both in terms of the hardware and the software on-board. For the hardware, it is equipped with two 1 TB drives and the unit can either be setup as JBOD (Just a Bunch Of Disks) or else RAID 1 in which each disk mirrors the other. Obviously, in RAID configuration, the NAS has only 1 TB of storage available for use.

For the built-in software, there’s a BitTorrent client, Time Machine support and DLNA multimedia server

Buffalo CloudStation Duo with Pogoplug

Those familiar with Buffalo’s LinkStation range will spot that the Buffalo CloudStation (CS-WX) looks identical the LinkStation Duo (LS-WX), albeit with a new CloudStation sticker on the top left of the front panel. Removing the front panel reveals nothing different on the inside either. Two swappable SATA drives, allowing for replacement in the event of failure or upgrade to a larger capacity.

Buffalo CloudStation Duo with Pogoplug Buffalo CloudStation Duo with Pogoplug Rear

Round the back, it’s the same layout as well. The USB port can be used to add additional storage or as a print server (which is also available as part of the “cloud”.)

All of the CloudStation’s functions are controlled by a built-in webserver, so it’s not essential to install any software on a PC. I found the IP address of the CloudStation via my DHCP server’s status table and after I had the IP, it was simply http://…. in a web browser. Setting up the CoudStation is straightforward. On first login, it recognises that the device is uninitialised and asks how the drive is to be setup. I went for RAID 1 which then meant it spent the next few hours building the array. This has to be completed before any new shares can be setup.

The shares (or folders) appear in Windows as any normal folder does, so copying files to the CloudStation is just a case of drag’n’drop.

Anyone who has setup a NAS before will find it all straightforward. The interesting part is the addition of Pogoplug’s personal cloud. To get started with this, simply open http://cloudstation.pogoplug.com/activate/ in any web browser. The website asks what type of CloudStation is connected and then walks through five basic steps to connect the device up, finally checking connectivity at the end.

As you might expect, the website prompts for an email address and password for secure access to the CloudStation via Pogoplug. A confirmatory link is sent via email and once that’s all checked, you’re logged into the CloudStation remotely and you can start using your personal cloud.

Buffalo CloudStation Duo with Pogoplug

And it’s brilliant. I was also able to play music and videos directly in the browser. Here’s a screenshot of it playing a video.

Buffalo CloudStation Duo with Pogoplug Video

And playing a music. You’ll just have to hear the tune in your head.

Buffalo CloudStation with Pogoplug music

The web interface is very comprehensive and you can do more from the internet that you can actually do on the local NAS. For instance, it’s easy to share files and folders with friends and family, which is very handy for photos. You can also share to Facebook, if you are into the social networking scene.

If you have a printer connected to the CloudStation, you can print to it to by sending emails with attachments to a Pogoplug email address. Not a perfect solution, but not bad for the odd occasion. There’s a similar feature that lets you upload files to the CloudStation via email which could be handy at times.

I was also able to gain access from my HP Pre 3 using the Pogoplug app. Similar clients are available for iOS and Android.

There are loads of other features such as the transcoding of video, use of HTML5, bulk downloading of folders and backup from the CloudStation to Pogoplug’s cloud. In fact, there’s too many to mention them all but suffice to say that everything I tried worked well.

To close this review, I wasn’t too sure what to expect from the “personal cloud”. I mean, how different can it really be from an ftp site with all your files on it? The revelation for me was the media aspect. Showing photos to friends and family is easy, listening to music from your entire collection is simple and videos can be streamed from home to wherever you are. I love what the the Buffalo CloudStation can offer when combined with Pogoplug.

The Buffalo CloudStation Duo comes in 2 TB and 4 TB variants and is available from all good retailers. Prices on-line suggest typical prices of around £250 and £310 respectively, which is only a small premium over the LinkStation Duo’s prices.

Psst….Buffalo…any chance you’ll offer a firmware upgrade for the LinkStation Duo to convert it to CloudStation Duo? I’d even pay for the upgrade.

Thanks to Buffalo for the loan of the CloudStation.


Pogoplug Mobile Lets You Put Your Cloud on Your Desk



pogoplug-mobile
pogoplug-mobile

In this day and age, we talk about Cloud like a car dealer talks cars. We put stuff in the cloud and take it down. We don’t even know where this cloud is – but a lot of us trust it for our photos, music, movies and more.

Now we can put a cloud on our desks, and share media through our mobile device. All through Pogoplug.

Pogoplug is a device you plug into your network, plug in your USB drives, then share the contents across the web. You can set access to private or public viewing on desktop, iPhone, iPad, Android or other mobile device. You can also set permissions so your workmates can collaborate on files.

Today, Pogoplug announced their newest product in the line of devices. Pogoplug mobile is a version of Pogoplug geared at taking all the media off your smartphone and keeping it on your personal cloud.

“Pogoplug Mobile is the perfect companion to your mobile phone or tablet.” says CEO Daniel Putterman. “Not only can you stream the media from your hard drives straight to your mobile device over WiFi or your cellular connection but you can also automatically back up your camera roll to your Pogoplug.That means, no matter where you are, the photos and videos you take on your mobile phone are automatically backed up to your Pogoplug.”

Pogoplug Mobile lets you attach USB drives and now SD cards into the device. You configure the drives up on my.pogoplug.com, then download an application for your PC, Mac or mobile device. When configured, you can access your mobile data through your own cloud.

Prices for Pogoplug Mobile start at $79.99 (£59.99 in the UK). For more information, go to Pogoplug Mobile site ). It is also one of the 5 Backup Cloud Solutions I reported on back on September 21st. You can also check out the video we did with Pogoplug at CES2010.