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ASUS WL-HDD 2.5" - NAS and Wireless AP

By: Cameron Johnson | Editorials in Networking | Posted: Jul 5, 2005 4:00 am
TweakTown Rating: 8.5%Manufacturer: ASUS

Features of the ASUS WL-HDD


- What does it do?


Before we get into the finer details of the ASUS WL-HDD, we want to cover what it is and what it does. This fancy device from ASUS is NAS (Network Attached Storage) and AP (Access Point) all in one, at an affordable price. The device supports 2.5 inch hard drives (notebook size drives) and 802.11g Wireless Networking.


The device is designed to allow you to add file sharing storage to your network with ease (no drivers need to be installed) and provide Wireless Networking to a wired network through the AP side of the product.


Now we know what the product does, we can continue on.


- Package and Contents


The ASUS WL-HDD is a premium product from ASUS, so naturally you would expect a good package. ASUS provides a very detailed user manual in 6 different languages, a CD with the user instructions and manuals (just in case you prefer to read it on the PC), 1x 5 Meter RJ-45 CAT5E cable for connection to the wired environment, AC to DC Adapter with regional specific power plugs for mains and a small 6dba antenna for improved signal reception over the internal antenna used.


- The Unit



Now we take a look at the unit itself and there is very little in the way of unique look. You could be mistaken for thinking this looks just like a Wireless AP, this is where we differ. ASUS uses a Broadcom PCI based 10/100 Ethernet controller chip in order for wired network access back to a modem, router or any other network device. A Marvel Wireless Ethernet Controller chip, similar to the ones used on ASUS motherboards provides the Wireless backbone of both 802.11b/g support.


Unfortunately no super or Turbo-G standards are supported, which would have been a better option for his product - however, there is always room for another model down the track.



At the back of the unit is where all the ports are located. We will be going from left to right explaining he ports and the purposes. First you have your power port. The unit uses 5VDC at a max of 2 Amps, so if the supplied power unit does ever fail, replacements will be simple.


Next is a USB 1.1 port but this isn't for any kind of management access, its purpose is for data transfer. If you have any USB Stick drives or other USB storage and want to transfer the data from the stick to the ASUS HDD, you simply plug it in to the back and the ASUS HDD automatically assigns the USB stick a folder name based on the date and time - one of the handiest features I found. Unfortunately it is only USB 1.1 spec, so transfer of data above 128MB will take some time.


Next is a standard RJ-45 Ethernet port which is used to connect the ASUS WL-HDD to the wired network. This allows the device to be used as an Access Point for a wired network (which provides wireless networking ability) as well as give the workstations on the wired side access to the HDD.


Next is the LED display, there are two rows top and bottom - the top left is for HDD access, top right is the power status. Bottom left is WLAN access and bottom right is LAN access. Last but not least is the reset button, if you forget your admin password to the unit you simply press and hold for five seconds and the unit will automatically reset itself back to factory defaults or press it for one second and the unit goes in to power standby mode.



With the cover removed you can now see the internals of the unit. There isn't much to the unit itself. On the upper side you have a 44 pin IDE interface that connects to the Notebook Hard Disk (a Western Digital Scorpion was used here) and a battery to keep the internal RTC going in case the power is cut. The bottom of the drive reveals the circuits and controller chips. There are only three major units to speak of - the Broadcom 10/100 Ethernet link, Marvell 54g Wireless controller chip and a Promise UDMA-100 IDE controller chip, which is used for the unit to interface with the Hard Disk.


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