I've had a XIMETA NetDisk 80 since December, and the NSLU2 for just
over a month, and I must say, the NSLU2 is the superior product. Both
offer the promise of cheaply connecting a hard drive to a 10/100 port.
Overall, the NSLU2 is cheaper, more reliable, and more flexible. Both
products have some rough edges, but the critical difference is that
the NSLU2's flaws are not as likely to be fatal.
The NSLU2 does not like to play with certain drive enclosures, and
putting it on a hub or certain switches degrades performance severely.
Both of these problems are unfortunate, but they can be easily worked
around by purchasing a new enclosure or a new switch.
In contrast, the NetDisk faces quite a few hurdles:
- if you're using any Win98/ME/NT machines, the driver comes with a
tray icon that lets you assign which machine can write to the disk
(all can read) - i.e. only one machine can write to the disk at a
time, and switching requires human intervention. Later drivers allow
Win2K/XP machines to write 'simultaneously' to the drive, or at least
arbitrate between themselves automatically, but the rest of the OSes
are out of luck.
- AFAIK, non-Windows machines are completely shut out of using the NetDisk
- the disk intermittently drops off the network, sometimes requiring a
reboot on the client currently writing to it
- all of these 'features' means that you may as well use the USB2
connection and make it a share - which defeats the premium Etherenet
- unfortunately, the USB driver supplied with the disk for Win98SE
causes BSODs after the drive is connected for a while
Cost-wise, the NSLU2 is probably a better deal. Including an
enclosure, it costs about US$115, which also happens to be the price
that the enclosure-only version of the Netdisk retails for. Netdisks
with drives in them have a tendency to charge an even bigger premium.
If you already have an enclosure, the NSLU2 is much cheaper.
In terms of other features, they both have perks. Netdisk supports
transparent mirroring and spanning, which is very nice. The NSLU2
does backup (remote and local), web-based read access, supports a 2nd
disk, and can use flash. Netdisk does support NTFS and FAT on the
disk, which NSLU2 does not.
NSLU2: So far, I haven't gotten a response from Linksys to my 2
queries. It's been a couple weeks. That's atrocious, but at least
there's an online community that can help.
NetDisk: XIMETA answers its mail within 24 hours, but tech support (as
everywhere else) is not great, and not as tech-savvy as it should be.
It took several tries sometimes for them to understand a problem.
Promised driver fixes have never arrived in the seven months since
they've been promised. Net benefit: wasted time.
If you're only using WinXP/2000 boxes, and want the mirroring or
spanning features, or have to be able to also connect the drive to a
Windows box, and don't mind when it drops off the network, get the
NetDisk. Otherwise, the NSLU2 is the better bet.