Om and I are both big fans of the PogoPlug from Cloud Engines. Using it earlier this year, we turned ordinary external drives into remotely accessible Network Area Storage devices. But even good products can evolve into better ones. Today, Cloud Engines announced a product partnership with Seagate (s STX) called the FreeAgent DockStar. This $99 docking mechanism holds a Seagate FreeAgent Go external drive but also connects directly to a router to leverage the PogoPlug cloud functionality. A $29 yearly PogoPlug subscription is required for file-sharing, but the first year is included with a DockStar. Additional storage devices are supported through the three USB ports on the dock.
Will the DockStar be a rock star for consumers? The clean-looking device is far smaller and cheaper than other NAS solutions on the market, although the price doesn’t include an actual hard drive. The primary benefit is in easily sharing photos, documents, music, videos and other files by using local storage. The PogoPlug functionality simplifies that sharing and even creates an RSS feed for shared folders. Simply adding files to such a folder notifies friends and family of new content through Really Simple Syndication. Consumers are creating more shareable content each day — Emarketer forecasts 155 million U.S. Internet users will engage in user-generated content by 2013, a jump from 116 million in 2008. Devices like the new iPod Nano with camera are enabling more than passable content creation in a small, cheap package. Places to store that content are needed. But people aren’t creating content just for the sake of it. They want to store it and share their work with others. Seagate’s DockStar meets both needs in a simple-to-use and relatively inexpensive fashion.