Essentially, the Pogoplug is a device that allows you to attach any external USB hard drive to the cloud with out any fancy router configurations. The first time I heard about the Pogoplug, I was really excited to get my hands on one and see if it was as great at it sounded. Well, the first generation came and went, and to tell you the truth, I had forgot all about it. In November 2009, Pogoplug announced they would drop a new version of the Pogoplug with a new optimized web interface. When I heard about the new generation of the device, I decided I was not going to let it slip my mind again. Now that I have one, and have been using it for a few weeks, I wanted to do a full write up on the device and share my thoughts and experience.
The Pogoplug in all its pink glory is a pretty slick looking device. One of the complaints people had with the first generation was that it was pretty ugly, and only offered 1 USB port. Well, both of these worries are no more in the second generation of the device. The Pogoplug features 3 x USB 2.0 ports, 1 gigabit ethernet port, and a 100-240v power port on the rear of the device. On the front of the device, you will find 1 additional USB 2.0 port and a status light that will let you know if your Pogoplug is online. It is hard to explain how the device looks just in words, so be sure to checkout the pictures throughout this article. Essentially, the device itself floats on a pink plastic stand, that doubles as a cable management system. While this device looks odd hovering like it does, you will find, that this hover design allows for 360 degree airflow, which keeps the device nice and cool.
Maintaining your Pogoplug is easy and is all done from a web interface at http://my.pogoplug.com. When you first login, the website will detect a Pogoplug on your network, and will automatically sync it to your account. If it doesn’t automatically detect it, it will ask you for the unique ID located on the bottom of the device. Once the device is setup, you will see it appear on the website and its contents will appear in a very typical folder thumbnail style. You can browse your files, view them right there on the web, and share them.
My.Pogoplug.com also analyzes your content and organizes it into a series of media folders: i.e. Movies, Photos, Music, Slideshows. As it analyzes your content for the media folders, it also zero’s out any video files and transcodes them for over the website viewing. I found this to be an awesome feature. When I host my entire home media server on my Pogoplug, this functionality will allow me to view all my movies and TV shows from my home media server via the internet when I am away from my home network. The video that is seen through my.Pogoplug.com is the degraded transcoded video, but when you watch video via the Desktop software, you will see the original quality. The transcoded video just makes it website friendly and is show in a typical flash player. I would love to see my.Pogoplug.com take advantage of HTML 5 instead of Flash, but that is just a minor concern.
The Pogoplug also offers desktop software for Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux. Essentially what this software does, is allow you to display your Pogoplug drive as a typical attached USB hard drive. You just load the application, login with your my.Pogoplug.com credentials, and up pops your Pogoplug wireless drive in Finder and/or My Computer. The application features a few options: Remember me on this computer, Automatically start Pogoplug drive on login, and enable multi-drive support. Along with those few setup options, you have the option to setup Active Copy which is essentially, a way for you to sync directories on your computer to a directory on your Pogoplug. I found this really handy by sharing my pictures directory, so when I add new pictures, they are automatically available on my Pogoplug for sharing.
One problem I had with the desktop software (Mac Version), is there is no running in the background. You have to have the Pogoplug application fully running and in your dock. I don’t want something that has to be open up all the time sitting on my dock. That is what the status bar is for, and yes there is a status bar icon, but there is no way to close the application and keep it running in the background with just a status bar icon.
Another great feature of the Pogoplug is the ability to share hosted content. You can select to share any folder on your Pogoplug connect hard drive. Sharing is done through my.Pogoplug.com. They offer a ton of ways to share your content, ranging from emailing a private link, to opening it to the public all together. They also allow you to share content via all the major social networks and via an RSS feed. This is great, because now I can share my entire pictures directory with all my relatives. I can even set it up to notify people when I add new images to the folder.
Overall, I am very happy with the Pogoplug and the my.Pogoplug.com website. The ability to connect multiple USB 2.0 hard drives to the device at one time, the transcoding of videos for easy online viewing, and the ability to share content really makes this device a winner in my eye. My only issue with the device is the desktop application. They need to address the running in the background issue and I would like a few more options to control the desktop software and the Pogoplug attached drives, but those are just minor issues compared to all the positives the device offers.