Product: Pogoplug Pro
Rating: Weak Recommend+
We used to sit around daydreaming about a future where storage was ubiquitous - where all our files are centralized and at our fingertips - and we could carry our entire lives on our cell phones. Pogoplug's "provide-your-own-hard drive" cloud solution attempts to make this a reality. Does it have what it takes to deliver that dream experience we've all been waiting for? Well, let's just say it provides more questions than answers...
It's amazing how far we've come along in terms of digital distribution since the dawn of the peer-to-peer up until the release of Dropbox and now, Pogoplug's answer to the cloud computing paradigm.
So what is Pogoplug exactly? Pogoplug is a device that allows you to turn the many external hard drives we've accumulated over the years and allow access to your files from anywhere, so long as you have an Internet connection. With this approach, there's no subscription fees nor space limit. The only limit here is the number of hard drives you'll willing to plug in.
This presents a potential to have an insane cloud setup. Stringing together 3 1TB hard drives and you'll immediately have 3TB of cloud storage. Now, if you have a fast upload connection, this is an excellent way to house all your personal files to be accessible from anywhere, including HD movies. Now, that's cool.
As for the physical design, the Pogoplug gets plenty of kudos points. All of the wires plug into the back of the Poloplug, controlled by a simple plastic cable organizer loop that makes it perfect for a bookshelf with a series of external hard drives living nearby. The available color options (pink, black, and white) for each respective market (home, prosumer, and business) lowers the barrier of entry and makes the product very approachable for anyone.
But while this super duper on paper, we all know how hard it is to pull off a seamless software experience without feeling like bloatware. And this is where Pogoplug trips up. Quite a bit, too.
Let's start with the desktop app. We always believe good design should be taken by example. Dropbox and Backblaze, all cloud services, manages to hide itself into the background and "do its thing." Pogoplug's Mac/PC App, on the other hand, feels bulky and incomplete, allowing a very limited set of customization options for all the features available on the device.
While setup was a breeze, we quickly realized all of the options that controlled the Pogoplug requires you be logged into their online Internet hub at (//my.pogoplug.com). This makes a little bit of sense since the whole premise of the product is that an Internet connection is required in order to access the remote files, but having to log in via our browser every time we need to change the name of our mounted hard drives, media streaming settings, or connecting to wireless access points, is somewhat ridiculous.
We also have a folder called, "Files shared with me" that's partitioned automatically without much explanation nor consent to be created in the first place. But in order share folders, you can only do it via the online interface and not within the browser itself. Seeing as people browse their files on their computers and not via a web app, we imagine this feature won't get much use until they change that.
Playing videos over the network worked about 75% of the time, though the compressed quality when streaming to the PS3 or Xbox 360 was quite bad that we imagine Boxee or PlayOn would probably be a better avenue for that sorta thing. Playing videos on the iPhone or iPad was decent, but the app crashed half the time that we also found ourselves throwing in the towel after a while.
In the end, however, we can't rag on the Pogoplug too much. It's an aesthetically pleasing product with a few software flaws that keeps it from becoming the go-to device for all our of media needs. We dig the idea of no fees and the ability to essentially hold our entire media collection on the cloud - we're sure it's a dream system that more companies will likely continue to strive for over coming years as computing in the cloud becomes something of the norm.
But until affordable 10MBit upload speeds are available to the general consumer, their desktop software gets a huge overhaul, and various bugs are kicked to the curb, Pogoplug will remain a secondary cloud solution to all of the other great services out there today.
Pros: Very affordable, nearly unlimited cloud storage, simple installation, convenient design
Cons: Desktop apps are incomplete, media streaming over-compresses files, most vital settings are controlled online-only
Recommend (Maybe once the software side is improved)
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did loan us the product for testing and review purposes.