2008/05/29

CH3WNAS: Grab'n'Go Wireless Media Store


One month ago, I bought a Conceptronic WiFi 500 GB Grab'n'Go Wireless Media Store (CH3WNAS) at about 130 EUR. This is cheap if you look at the features and compare it with other NAS-devices.

Check out the Conceptronic's website for more info.

I found a few minor glitches in the device. Those are not blocking in my case:
  • There is no way to turn the device automatically on after a power-cut. You have to press 'power on' button manually for starting the device up. The FAQ states this is hardware-related and can not be fixed. This is unfortunate if you want to reach your NAS while you're on holiday, or, if you want to routinely cut off the power to remove latent power consumption.
  • For a 'clean' shutdown, you have to keep the power-button pressed during 5s. At first, this gives the impression the device hangs and you have to force the shutdown -- at least that's how I shutdown a laptop when it hangs. This is also documented in the FAQ. I couldn't find any 'chkfs' recommendations in the manual to make sure the data is save.

    There is also a 'shutdown' button in the web-interface that performs a clean remote shutdown. This looks more like a regular 'shutdown' command.

  • I was planning to use the CH3WNAS to replace my wifi router. Unfortunately, it has no support for NAT (and similar standard router-functionalities). Particularly with the built-in UPnP server, it's wise to keep the device behind your NAT. --> I'll keep my router in place to protect my home network; since the router itself has wifi (like almost any router nowadays), the Wifi server feature of the CH3WNAS is less appealing. Of course, the CH3WNAS could still act as a range extender if I install a long LAN-cable.

  • I connected a USB drive into the CH3WNAS to perform automatic backups. The web-interface has nice provisions for backing up. This is called 'scheduled downloads'. Not very intuitive, but after selecting 'folder' and clicking on 'local', the device does what it's expected to do: backup.

    Unfortunately, the support for NTFS is very limited: the NTFS drive in the USB port is mounted as readonly and all folders/filenames are in uppercase. I reformatted the drive to FAT32 and now the device is supported correctly. A bit disappointing when you're used to Ubuntu and its out-of-the box ntfs-3g support, but I suppose the Linux-version on the device is a bit too old for NTFS (or the resources are too limited?).

  • There are reports that the built-in UPnP Server is primitive, but I couldn't verify this. I couldn't get the UPnP to work correctly from within Ubuntu.
The good news is that the CH3WNAS is a linux-device! There are a lot of tweaks out there:
The DSM-G600 appears to be a very similar device to the CH3WNAS. That's a good start for interesting hacks:
I'm considering installing gentoo (under chroot) and Firefly, or better(?) MediaTomb. Those look like a killer-solution. --> next blog :-)
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