Top critical review
72 of 79 people found this helpful
Works. If you're an expert. Just barely. Otherwise avoid.
on March 23, 2011
This device is a Dilbert cartoon all by itself. It was clearly rushed out the door before development was completed; it is so unpolished that for most users it simply will not work. Unless you're a technology expert, don't bother.
If you are a technology expert or are brave enough to give this thing a try, here's what you need to know:
(1) The user guide doesn't include setup and install instructions, so don't bother searching through it.
(2) The seemingly promising "install tools" option on the setup CD either installs tons of stuff you don't need and that simply doesn't work (on Windows) or crashes outright (on Mac OS). Don't bother to open the container on Mac OS and unzip and run the binary by hand; you'll simply install the same tools that don't work and aren't needed anyway on Windows.
(3) The reason the tools don't work on Windows (or on Mac OS if you are knowledgable enough to bypass the icon and manually install them) is that they require an administrator login and password for the device... that you don't have yet because you haven't set it up. When you do finally have them (I'll explain how to set them in a moment), all these rather heavy (hundreds of megabytes) programs do is... redirect you to the device's web interface in your default browser. Seriously.
(4) There is a "setup" option on the Windows half of the CD (they forgot to include any kind of setup for Mac), and presumably it's meant to let you do things like choose a default username and password and name the device, but as you'll find, it simply doesn't work--it tells you that the device has already been configured by someone else and can't be setup, even when it's at factory default settings. So don't bother with the "setup" icon/application.
(5) Instead, on a Windows computer, with the device powered on and on the network, use the "Documents and Tools" option on the CD's autorun, and then in that area the "Reset" option to start the reset-to-factory-defaults procedure. After you issue the reset command, hold down the power button on the back of the device for five seconds to reboot it. You can't do this from Mac OS because the reset tool was also inconveniently omitted from the Mac OS half of the CD. Oops.
(6) Once the device has rebooted (solid light is back) after a reset, just open your web browser and point it at the device's IP address obtained via DHCP from your router. If you don't know this, log into your router and look at the current list of DHCP leases to obtain it. Visiting the IP of the device in your browser will take you to the web administration interface (the one that that should be mentioned in the user guide along with the setup CD in a section called "configuring the device" or something--but of course isn't).
(7) When you visit the web interface immediately following a reset, you'll see a special instance of the interface that asks you to give the default administrator account a password. The default administrator account matches the default device name, both of which are randomized because the device uses this name as your account at Verbatim's online sharing service, which is a proxy interface on the Web, through Verbatim, to your device. Just use the defaults for now; once you log in as administrator, you can create the account name you'd like and change the device name as you wish (which will also change your account name at Verbatim's online service).
(8) After setting the password, re-visit the IP of the device and log into the web interface. Add a user and mark them as administrator to get the administrator username you want. Then, to change the device name, go to the "Remote Sharing" section and edit the name in the box there.
CONGRATULATIONS, YOUR DEVICE IS NOW CONFIGURED. Thank god I spent many years as an IT professional or this would have been over my head, since:
- The printed guide included just tells you to insert the CD
- The CD includes only a single Mac application which crashes immediately
- The CD's Windows setup application refuses to talk to factory-fresh devices and is thus worthless
- The tools, if you manage to install them, require an already setup up username, password, and device name to work, but of course you don't have these because the setup didn't work
- The full user manual icons on the CD just go to broken links at Verbatim.com
- The full user manual PDF that you can find by searching Google for "mediashare mini user guide" doesn't give any information about setup, much less explaining that the device is configured to use DHCP by default and has a web interface
etc. etc. etc.
I do now have the device set up (took me about two hours to work through this) and while it does seem to work (it just mounts NTFS/FAT/HFS volumes and shares them via SMB), the quality does not impress. I had planned to use this for my online backups, but now I'm not so sure I want to trust it with my data.
Apart from the foibles above, here are some other things indicative of quality.
- They didn't bother to have it calculate free space correctly. It does show used space for files/folders correctly, but free space for any volume is always 9.2 exabytes (yes, exabytes).
- The web interface is entirely done in flash (yes, flash) so it's not what you'd call the most "futureproof" of devices
- The much heralded iPhone app actually sucks; you can open exactly one file per session--if you navigate 10 folders deep, open a file, and it's not the one you were looking for, you can't go back to the folder and look again, but must rather close the connection and then start all over again with a new connection in the root folder once again
- As mentioned, but it bears a more clear mentioning, there is absolutely no reason or purpose for or use for the software tools; all they do is remember the device name, username, and password that you enter and then redirect you to the web interface in your browser--and occupy several hundred megabytes in the process
- The device gets HOT, much hotter than I'd expect or feel comfortable with and there is no internal fan
- It takes quite a while to boot/reboot the device
- It's just rebranded technology (Verbatim MediaShare = rebadged Axentra HipServ technology in the same way that LiveScribe Pulse Pen = rebadged Anoto pen products), albeit with Verbatim-specific tools/applications on the CD; I'm not sure I feel comfortable as a result with Verbatim's level of commitment to the device in the future
- Trying to call Verbatim customer service to complain about all of this and recount my experiences led to the interesting result that they don't seem to be aware of this device or know what it is; see previous point
In short, unless you very much know what you are doing and are in search of a cheap, SMB-based, small-footprint, no-drive-included NAS for immediate rather than long-term use, do not buy this product. You will not be happy with it (there are a number of other reviews here that make this clear--I just assumed, correctly, that as a technology person I'd be able to make it go despite most obstacles).
On the whole, very, very poor--which is a shame, because the physical object is nice in appearance and the price is right, and it ultimately does seem to work. But this was clearly rushed out the door long before ready, hence my reference to Dilbert cartoons: the two or three engineering people developing this thing came into the meeting munching on sandwiches and said "Here's our prototype of the HipServe device," and the boss made four or five clicks, said "Wow, this is great, ship it now!" over the engineers' objections, and marketing had it listed on Amazon a day later. At least that's how it looks to this former industry insider.