It's always strange to get a PogoPlug-based device. No install CD or discovery software. No way to tell from the outside the IP. To set it up, you head to the rebranded website (cloudstation.pogoplug.com, in this case), follow the steps and then everything becomes available to you through the web interface. It pitches itself as a "personal cloud", rather than being a NAS.
True techies are likely to balk at the lack of control and direct access to the device. Unlike other PogoPlug devices, though, Buffalo gives you full access if you're willing to jump through a few hoops. You'll need to find the internal IP first, by going to the system section of the website's control panel, and then you'll need to set the device password. After this, you point your browser to that IP, enter the password and you'll have local access, and the ability to set a manual IP.
Never fear; whether set up locally or through the internet, if you're on the local network, file transfers will take place there, for speed and for the sake of quotas.
Once you've done this initial set-up, you can access files on your device, upload to it or download clients for Windows, OS X, iOS and Android. You also have access to PogoPlug cloud, a free 5GB of space hosted by PogoPlug itself, which functionally acts as a Dropbox competitor. You can upgrade to 30GB for US$4.95 per month, 100GB for US$14.95 per month, or 1TB for US$59.95 per month.
Installing the PogoPlug browser on Windows does two things: it maps a local drive to your device (either including all PogoPlug devices under the one drive name, or assigning separate drives per device) and installs backup software that is curiously limited. There seems to be no obvious way to set a schedule, and, while you can add specific folders, you can't remove the default My Documents, Videos, Music and Pictures folders from the backup.
We've found that NAS web interfaces have typically limited file sizes to either 2GB or 4GB before cutting off, with other methods, such as SMB or FTP, required to bypass this. Sadly, the CloudStation falls into this trap, too, limiting uploads to 4GB, and requiring you to map a drive to your system to overcome this.
While there are filters for image, music and movie content, and the interface does allow playback, it doesn't cover all formats. Still, you can create slideshows from images on the CloudStation, and attach music that's on there, as well. What is weird is that you can only show low-resolution versions of your images, unless you go full screen, and even then that is a manual setting per image.
System management is reasonably limited, allowing for power up/down schedules, individual disk or RAID 1 settings, email notifications for system warnings, scheduled backing up to USB, time machine compatibility, user management and a BitTorrent client, powered by µTorrent. It also runs a UPnP A/V server, if you wish to stream compatible video and music across your network.
Buffalo's hardware is reasonably standard. It contains two 1TB 3.5-inch hard drives (or two 2TB drives for around AU$630), which are user replaceable, and a USB port at the back for adding extra storage if you wish, or for sharing with most HP and Epson printers. It runs quietly, and the only real fault to be found is with the front door, which can be finicky to get back on.
Performance is fine for the cost involved; copying a 5GB file from the CloudStation transferred at an average of 56MBps, while copying to the CloudStation managed around 50MBps.
Those looking for more power and flexibility should stick with standard NAS, but, for everyone else, Buffalo's CloudStation offers what pretty much every PogoPlug device does: a simple, worry-free storage facility.