Your Personal Cloud 

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With a name like Pogoplug you might just wonder what kind of device this might be. Maybe it could jump up and down or provide power on the go? In fact neither of these possible options comes close to describing the functionality offered by the Pogoplug. Describing itself as “Your Personal Cloud”, the Pogoplug is a multimedia sharing device that allows you to access and share content with others over the Internet.

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Unpacking this device could be a little disconcerting especially if you were expecting to find a reasonable sized Getting Started / User Guide.  There is one there but it is small enough for it to escape your attention.  Once located this concertina style booklet provides the brief instructions required for connecting the device to a Mac, PC or iPhone.  Basically you just need to visit the appropriate website and apply a click here and a click there in order for the activation of the device to be carried out.

Along with its distinctive name, the Pogoplug is also striking in appearance but maybe not to everybody’s taste.  The main element, looking a little like a small bulky radiator, is off-white in colour.  This unit sits inside a translucent, plastic shelter which is then attached to an “L” shaped, pink stand to ensure the unit stands upright.  Without doubt this is the kind of device that will not pass unnoticed even on a crowded work space.

The main unit has three USB slots, Gigabit Ethernet port and a power socket positioned on the rear.  A further USB slot is located on the front of the device along with an LED light providing status feedback.  Included in the box are a power lead and an Ethernet cable for attaching to a power source and your computer network.  The USB slots allow you to attach various storage devices off the Pogoplug.  Rather than store content itself, the Pogoplug acts as the conduit between the attached devices and your network and Internet.  The Pogoplug can handle various disk formats including NTFS, FAT32, and EXT-2/EXT-3 and supports H.264, MP4, AVI, JPEG and MP3 video / audio file formats.

The Pogoplug is driven by a 1.2GHz ARM processor with 512MB of Flash storage running Linux-based software running in 256MB of RAM.  It allows you to view the content of any attached storage device.  Content can be viewed in list, thumbnail (with a choice of small, medium or large size) and preview mode.  There is a search facility but I found it rather sluggish as the software slowly refined its list of hits after each letter was entered. 

The Pogoplug’s software automatically searches through the content on any attached device and adds appropriate files to the categories of Movies, Photos, Music and Slideshows that make up your personal library.  The content can be viewed on a date basic with options for Today, Last Week and Last Month.  There are also sections for files you have shared and files others have shared with you.  Further options include the ability to upload additional content, create new folders, delete items and sort content.

As the owner of it, you will have full control and access to the content from any location with the appropriate Internet connection while other will need to be invited to share designated files and folders.  Inviting others to access your content requires you to supply the necessary email address for the recipient so that the link to the appropriate Pogoplug website can be dispatched.  Once you have entered the email details, the Pogoplug will add them to its internet address book so that they are available for future use.  It would have been appreciated to have the ability to link the internal address book with that of my email client but this feature is not available.

As well as direct sharing invites for individuals, Pogoplug supports other types of sharing.  The most open method is by creating a Public URL giving access to everybody for selected files and folders.  Also social networks have not been forgotten.  Links are provided for Twitter, Facebook and MySpace.

Pogoplug can create slideshow based on your content.  You can give the slideshow a name, select the images and video clips either individually or by folder.  You can organise the order in which they are accessed and add a music file to be played in the background.  However you have no say in the time delay between each image and will have to accept the default basic transition between images.  Disappointingly little thought has been given to stopping a slideshow as you need to access separate controls to stop the images appearing and stop the background music playing.

Pogoplug is certainly eye-catching and can prove invaluable for sharing your content with others and also give you access to your content from various locations.  With four USB 2.0 ports you have plenty of options for attaching devices holding your multimedia data.  The product supports Safari, FireFox 3, IE 7, IE8 and Chrome.  You will need to be running Windows XP and later or Mac OS X 10.4 and above.  Expect to pay £99 for your Personal Cloud otherwise known as Pogoplug.

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