Iomega’s Sleek Drive Does Storage and Torrents

Hard drives and network-attached storage devices aren’t supposed to be stylish, right? If so, nobody told Iomega (s IOM), whose Home Media Network Hard Drive is one of the sleekest external drives I’ve ever seen. Of course, looks don’t matter if the drive doesn’t perform as advertised, but the Iomega model holds up that end of the bargain, too. This NAS drive provides a handy place to store and share your big multimedia files, while also offering some extras, like a built-in torrent manager that allows you to access new content.

The Home Media Network Hard Drive is available in two sizes: a 500GB model for $150 and a 1TB model for$200. I tested the 500GB version, which came in a slim, coppery gray case. You attach it to your router using the included Ethernet cord, plug it in, and you’re in business. You then run the included Iomega setup app on your computer (Mac or PC). You’re only required to run the Iomega app on one computer; within seconds of doing so, I could see the network drive from all of the other computers connected to my home network.

By default, the drive comes with folders for backups, photos, movies and music, as well as one called “ActiveFolders,” where you can download and upload torrents, as well as other files via FTP. You also get a public folder. You can’t rename the folders, but you can delete the defaults and add new ones. And Iomega lets you determine which of the users on your network can see which folders. The software is clearly labeled and easy to figure out, even if you’re new to network storage.

Once the drive is connected, you’re able to drag and drop content to the folders as you please, but be prepared to wait. I found it painfully slow at times, even when transferring relatively small (1.5GB and smaller) video files. Once the files appeared on the drive, though, playback was flawless.

Also slow: the drive’s built-in torrent manager. I like the idea of a remote torrent manager, as it allows you to save your torrents right to the drive, where they’ll download in the background, freeing up your computer from doing this often taxing work itself. But with Iomega’s drive — like most remote torrent managers I’ve tested — the idea is better than the reality, as I found it noticeably slower than the uTorrent client I use on my PC. You can easily monitor the progress of your downloading files, though, with a nice color-coded system.

If you’re into iTunes, Iomega’s drive will work as an iTunes server. Just enable the iTunes media server option (which is clearly visible in Iomega’s app) for your folders, and you’ll see that content appear in the iTunes player on any of your networked computers.

And if you’re more interested in watching your multimedia content on your TV than simply shuttling it between computers, you’ll be happy to know that the Home Media Network Hard Drive is DLNA-certified, so it will work with set-top boxes — like Netgear’s Digital Entertainer Elite — that share that certification. This will allow you to browse your stored multimedia content and view it from your TV.

If your computer is getting bogged down under the weight of all your multimedia files, a NAS drive is well worth a look. And if you’re in the market for an affordable, attractive drive with the added bonus of its own torrent manager, the Iomega Home Media Network Hard Drive is the one for you.