Keep documents, music and email in one place and access them from anywhere
The Excito B3 looks like a rather unassuming black box, but it's an incredibly useful home network device. It's a little like a network hard disk (NAS) but it can do a lot more than that, including streaming music and photos and sharing a printer without having to leave a computer on all the time.
Granted, you'll need to the leave the Excito B3 on but, because it's been built with that in mind it's very efficient, compared to even the most efficient computers. The power supply is rated at 36 watts but Excito says the B3 will generally use around eight watts.
It's also largely silent in use, and a more expensive SSD version is completely silent. The model we reviewed uses a 2TB (2,000GB) hard disk.
Setup was straightforward: all we needed were the power and network cables, the latter of which connects to your home router.
There is a wireless model available but we think the B3 is best used as a wired device that lives next to the router. The exception to this would be if you wanted to share a printer from a more convenient location.
There's no need to mess about with network setup: to access the B3's setup pages, just type b3 into the address bar of a browser.
The browser-based configuration tool was clean and easy to use, and a big improvement on previous versions of Excito's servers.
As well as providing a space to store documents and backups, the B3 can share music, movies and photos across the home network to devices that use various streaming standards, and video can be streamed to the Xbox, Playstation 3 and other compatible devices.
It will be seen by iTunes media players automatically on the network and there is a browser based player which was a useful alternative.
The B3 is also good if you are trying to manage several email accounts. Each user in the home can set up several email accounts that the B3 will download automatically. They can then be accessed using any IMAP-compatible email software such as Thunderbird or Outlook, or a smartphone.
One useful aspect of the B3 is that it is designed to be accessed from across the internet rather than just on a home network, so your files and emails are always in one place.
Accessing a home network over the internet can sometimes be a little tricky because the IP address is likely to change on a regular basis. Thankfully Excito has a free service for which users can sign up to get an address that won't change.
Email and calendars can even be accessed using the B3's built-in webmail tool called Horde.
The small size of the B3 is the source of one criticism, because there's only room for a single hard disk. Many other network storage devices use two or more to protect files in case one disk fails. It is possible to connect a second hard disk using the eSata socket on the back but this will add to the cost.
The Excito B3 is a great way of keeping and sharing files both on your home network and the internet. Granted, many of its functions can be done using services from the likes of Google and Dropbox, but doing it with your own hardware keeps your files under your control.
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A superb way to share files across your home network and access them from anywhere
Small; low power consumption; more than just a hard disk on the network
Single hard disk only
€295 (no disks); €395 (2TB disk)
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