The Vox BlackBox is a 1 Terabyte Network Attached Storage Drive that is all about storage.
While it is great for storage, the functionality is just enough to get by and could use some more refinement. This product seems to be a great product if you are just looking to store some files while utilizing more than one drive.
This all-in-one solution includes the built-in software, enclosure, as well as two 500GB hard drives.
Today, we will be taking a look at the Vox BlackBox, a shared network attached storage product from a company called Vox. I have never heard of the company until I was asked to take a look at this product. Looking at their website (http://www.voxproducts.com/), it seems like the company has quite a few external hard drives and network atached storage drives. Network attached storage is more than just an external hard drive. It allows you to connect the device directly to your network so that users on the network can easily store files on the drive. This product is packed with a whopping 1 Terabyte of storage making it ideal for storing tons of files. The Vox Blackbox makes a good initial impression with its polished exterior design, but its functionality is minimal and seems like it has been scrambled together.
The Vox Blackbox is a good name for the product, but the actual product is not really a black box. Only the packaging of the product is a black box giving the product a substantial, yet mysterious feeling.
When opening the package, I was greeted with a smooth, silver box that looked elegant and simple. I instantly liked the design of the product. The front of the drive has the Vox brand name and you can visibly see the clean design of the two storage bays at the front used to hold two separate hard drives.
At the back of the drive, you can see an small fan, a power connector, a network port, a USB 2.0 port, and a power switch. The USB port is used for inserting things such as flash drives or additional storage so files can be seen from the Vox BlackBox.
In order to access the drives, you need to use one of the provided keys. Unfortunately, the keys aren't really keys. A paper clip is just as effective. All you do is stick the key into the hole and the front metal piece will pop out. From then on, you can easily pull the hard drives out. After checking both hard drives, I noticed that each hard drive was only 500 Gigabytes. This means that it is using a Raid 0 configuration where the data is being spanned across both drives.
When turning on the drive, the only issue I had with the design is that the fan is a bit noisy. It isn't that loud, but the fan noise sounds very hollow and is actually louder than my desktop computer.
Hardware-wise, the only thing you need to do to set up the BlackBox is to plug in an ethernet cable and connect it to your router or network. You also need to provide power to the drive as well. You can then turn on the BlackBox by flipping the switch at the back.
Before you can actually use the product, you have to use the provided CD and put it in a computer that is connected to the same network that the BlackBox is connected to. The installation CD launches a setup wizard where it configures the BlackBox. At the very first setup, I noticed that it will always say that the 'Network Storage Link has been Found' no matter if it really detects the BlackBox or not. Once it really detected the product, it showed up in the selection list including the ip address related information. You can either setup a static ip address or automatically obtain an ip address. The last step is setting the time and date. After all the settings are completed, it will display a summary of the settings and ask you to confirm it. You are now ready to use the product!
Using the Product
When everything is configured correctly and you turn on the drive, it will probably take less than a minute for the drives to initialize and for it to be detected on the network. Using my Windows Vista computer, I was able to go to the 'Network' page and immediately show up as BlackBoxNAS. I saw 2 icons show up: one is used to access the configuration of the drive, and the other lets you access the files directly when you click on them.
Once you are in the configuration page, you just enter in the default username and password on the webpage and you will then be able to access all the configuration settings. The categories of settings pretty much summarizes the capabilities of this NAS product.
Overall, the interface is very minimal, yet unpolished. Not all the settings are self explanatory and there are no accessible instructions that explain the settings and fields. Therefore, it may take a bit of experimentation to figure out how to do things.
The drives can be configured to use the ext2, ext3, or fat32 formats. NTFS is not supported. You can either choose Raid 0 and get as much as 1 Terabyte of storage, or you can choose to mirror your drives with only 500GB.
Using the Users and Groups management feature, you can assign specific access categories. For instance, you can let a user have access only to a specific folder on the drive and set a specific username and password.
With the builtin Bittorent feature, you are able to download files through Bittorent using the product itself. The advantage of this is that you don't have to leave a desktop computer on just to be able to download files. All the files are stored on the drive. The Bittorent features are also minimal and just enough to be able to download files. You can control the overall upload and download speeds. To download a file, you need to locate a bittorent file on your computer. Then when a download starts, you can see the status of the download in the form of a list. You can see the current upload speed, download, speed, and you can start and stop the transfer. You have to keep refereshing the page in order to be able to see the latest status on the transfer.
The rest of the features are mostly status related. For instance, you can turn on notification settings to inform you on disk usage through email or as a pop up window on your computer. You can also view logs, change time settings, check the disk usage, etc.
The Vox BlackBox can be found online through multiple retailers just under $340. This product gets the job done when used purely for storage. At least you can store files with ease. But you cannot expect anything more than basic for its additional features. Yes, you can create users and groups, and you can also use it for some Bittorent. But once you finally figure out how to use those features, your craving for more will be left unsatisfied. If you are just looking for something where you can easily swap hard drives and store files in a self-contained solutions, then this might be for you. If you are looking for more powerful NAS features, then you might have to look elsewhere. Overall, this is still an ok product for the price and as such we rate it a solid 7 out of 10.