The MyBook World Edition II is a large, book-shaped NAS drive with some unique and handy features. Like seemingly all new peripherals the MyBook comes in a white casing, and features a bright blue power button. White may be the latest fashionable colour for PC peripherals, and while it's getting a little old we'll take white over beige any day of the week. The power button itself is also a storage-level indicator, and consists of four different segments which show you how space you have left.
Two 500GB drives (1TB total) live inside the MyBook, which makes it quite hefty at 174.6mm by 159.3mm by 104mm, and it weighs in at a solid 2.7 kg. You wouldn't want to cart this around too often, but thanks to its web-based interface, you don't need to.
The MyBook World Edition II is one of the most fully-featured external drives we've seen. Not only do you get "always-on" capabilities that enable you to access files while the PC is off, but the drive comes with a remote access program that lets you access it from anywhere in the world.
The bundled application, MioNet, is more powerful than its competitor GoToMyPC because it not only emulates your desktop, but also allows you to access your MyBook storage drive when your PC is off. Though you can access your drive via the MioNet website, for full transparency it is best to install the application on the remote PC as well -- this way you can assign the MyBook to a drive letter and use Windows' own drag and drop to access files.
The drive comes with a 30 day trial which will also let you access networked PCs and even Webcams, but after that the program restricts you to accessing the MyBook only. Signing up is relatively cheap though, with a year's subscription only costing US$64.95 (AU$78). By comparison, a GoToMyPC subscription is very costly at US$179.40 (AU$215).
The drive also allows for RAID 1 redundancy, so you automatically generate two copies of a file copied to the device -- just in case one of the drives fails. Of course, if you choose this the capacity is reduced to 500MB.
We must also note that there is as yet no Vista support for Mio or this drive. However, Western Digital informs us that drivers will be available in May 2007. However, if you use the pre-installed "Public" folder you will be able to use it within Vista as a visible network drive -- though obviously without the advanced features.
The MyBook boasts a high-bandwidth gigabit LAN connection, which can shoot files across at a maximum of 128 MB/s. But with our testing, we found that this "theoretical maximum" was a long way from being threatened. Using SanSoftware Sandra's hard drive benchmark we found that the MyBook had a sequential read speed of 6.8 MB/s -- which is about 85 per cent slower than an internal drive. Of course, scores will vary across networks depending on their complexity. By comparison, the Maxtor Shared Storage Plus, which has a slower, 100 Mb/s network connection, actually performed better with a score of 7.53 MB/s.
Sequential writes on the MyBook were lower at 4.7 MB/s, while the Maxtor managed a much healthier 6.14 MB/s. Read scores are important considerations if you're performing tasks such as streaming video, while write scores are important for tasks such as backing up.
Using the MioNet application is quite straightforward, with a friendly interface, and plenty of advanced options such as "Sharing Webcams" and viewing remote desktops available from the main page. Logging in to the MioNet Web site is also simple, though the proprietary Web interface it uses for transferring files isn't as elegant as Windows' own. Hence, we recommend installing the app on any PC you intend to use more than once with the drive.
The MyBook is "remarkably quiet" according to Western Digital's marketing, but by its standards so are the 40 dollar fan heaters you can buy at the supermarket. The MyBook is thermally controlled, and at full pelt made more noise than our desktop gaming PC. If you buy one of these you may want to keep it in the cupboard.