Small, simple, chic. Makes keeping tabs on your business - and your data - a breeze, no matter where you are.
LenovoEMC sent us their new px2-300d a few weeks ago - a new networked storage unit targeted at small business users. Designed to fill multiple roles for companies without sizeable IT departments, the px2 can serve files and media while also keeping track of all your security cameras. Most of all, it's designed to be rock solid regardless of what you need - read on for our thoughts.
LenovoEMC's version of the PX2 is essentially identical to the model that came out when it was labeled under Iomega's brand. The build quality is extremely high, with five of the six sides clad entirely in metal and the sixth covered in high-quality plastics and the unit's display.
Pop open the door on the front, and you'll see two hard drive bays with the standard sort of loading mechanism you'll see on just about any networked storage unit - but they do appear to be of high quality. There's also a USB 3.0 port for rapidly adding data, or expanding the unit's storage capabilities.
The screen at the top relays a limited amount of information - warnings, firmware update notices, IP address, etc. Around back you'll find two more USB ports, dual Gigabit Ethernet ports, as well as a reset button should things go terribly awry.
At the top is a half-height PCI expansion slot, but more on that later.
Keeping a watchful eye
So, LenovoEMC refers to the PX2 as a network video recorder. That's because the units come with updated firmware that includes Milestone Arcus software. Milestone enables some pretty clever functionality for users looking to keep an eye on their home or work offices.
In addition to accessing your videos over the web via any modern browser, iOS and Android users can install Milestone Mobile, a surprisingly polished app that allows you to control the cameras from afar, view archived video footage - you get the idea. It lets you keep an eye on things no matter where you are, and it's free - which is as it should be, since Milestone carries a price premium.
We had no problem getting the unit set up. Like most networked storage devices, the PX2 has an internal web server to let you make changes via a standard browser interface. There were only two cameras lying around the office to test with, but the PX2's software picked them up with little trouble, and smoothly stored the resultant videos stored directly onto the NAS.
Speaking of cameras, the PX2 comes with support for up to 10 plug and play network security cameras (it doesn't matter if they're wired or wireless; licenses for four are included) from Axis, Bosch, or Panasonic, built into the software. It can actually support larger camera numbers, as well as those from other manufacturers, but you'll need to set the cameras to record directly to a network share instead of letting the PX2 find them on its own.
There's also Acronis ABR 11.5 backup software, which can automatically back every computer on your network up, with both periodic and continuous functionality. McAfee's VirusScan Enterprise is also built into the firmware, so even if your users manage to connect infected PCs to the network, you might not have to worry about letting the infection spread to other users.
In order to keep tabs on all these cameras, Lenovo puts in a dual-core Intel Atom D525, running at 1.8GHz. It's an older chip to be sure, but it's more than capable of handling these sorts of tasks.
There's also two gigabytes of DDR3 RAM.
Despite its video surveillance selling points, the PX2 is a perfectly capable NAS, too. Thanks to that dual-core x86 processor and Gigabit Ethernet, we found that read speeds from files (or videos) on the device managed just over 100MB/s. Continuous write speeds were a little lower, but still entirely respectable at 80MB/s even.
By default, the two 2TB drives in our unit were set to RAID 1, which means that one drive mirrors all the content found on the other. You can also set them to RAID 0 or even JBOD, depending on your storage needs.
The unit is generally pretty quiet, with a gentle whirr of a fan keeping the internals cool. LenovoEMC says that the unit maxes out at 28 dBA, but the sound is generally unnoticeable past a few feet.
Power draw averaged just under 30W - part of that is due to using x86 chips instead of ARM, but part of it is also the enterprise class storage drives found inside.
One of the coolest parts of the PX2 or PX4 is something that we didn't even get to test. Called the analog encoder PCIE card, the board slots into the half-height PCI slot we mentioned earlier.
With a dongle, you can connect up to a whopping sixteen analog video cameras to this device, with all of the encoding and storage handled by the expander card and PX2. Many small businesses have refrained from upgrading their security and storage systems because they've invested hefty sums in these analog security cameras that still work - but record to mediocre VHS tapes that are a pain to use, keep track of, and store.
Pick up the PX2 or PX4 and this card, and you can literally drop it in as a replacement for an analog video unit, with all your analog cameras staying in place.
If you need both a network storage device as well as a new solution for your video surveillance needs, the LenovoEMC is extremely easy to recommend. Setup was point-and-click easy, the analog expansion board is a unique draw, and the standard storage features were more than capable.
If you're looking solely for something to keep track of your files, however, you'd be better served by other options (whether from LenovoEMC or someone else), as this sort of video functionality doesn't exactly come cheap. With four camera licenses and two 2TB hard drives, the PX2-300D comes in at $999 - still a bargain for many small businesses, but if you don't need the surveillance, there are cheaper models available.
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