What isn't quite so simple to set up is syncing services (in the same form as the venerable SugarSync or DropBox). The default mode for ActiveSync is to save files inside a folder named after the computer it came from (Mark's iMac, Mark's MacBook and so on). It is possible to do this using the Active Copy settings from MyPogoplug to duplicate the folders across different computer accounts, but it's a bit of a headache and you end up with one set of identical data for each device. This is clearly an area that MyPogoplug could work on though.

The second standout service is the MyPogoplug website, which enables you to view content using HTML 5 directly from within a web browser. The MyPogoplug service is pretty neat, enabling you to view, download and share files, as well as play audio and video directly from the drive.

We had somewhat mixed results streaming media from the Pogoplug, and a lot of it will depend upon the upload speed of your ISP (which is almost certainly much lower than your download speed). We get 1Mbps upload and struggled to stream video, although audio worked just fine. Of course, with online services you only have to worry about the download speed, so we'd be careful if your primary interest is in remote media streaming.

The third standout feature is the iPhone, iPad, Android and Palm apps available that enable you to share and view files remotely (although you can't use the iPhone's Open With functionality and have to view files using the built-in viewer rather than Apple's QuickTime player). You can also view files on the Pogoplug using a Microsoft Xbox 360, PS3 or Seagate FreeAgent Theater (you can even view files that other Pogoplug users are sharing with you).

Pogoplug cables

So on the whole the Pogoplug is a fairly versatile piece of kit that's a doddle to set up, and seems to get progressively better with each update. It's incredibly easy to manage, especially if you've ever been through the harrowing process of setting up a NAS drive, and it offers a range of services comparable to iDisk and Box.net, although it comes up somewhat short against SugarSync and Dropbox.

And best of all, there's no monthly cost to using it and it's a great way to recycle an old hard drive.  We are somewhat affronted by the price, however, which at $99, €99 and £99 suggests that they haven't really taken into account regional exchange rates and just picked a good sounding number. This means that UK owners are paying an extra 20-25% over American or European owners.

OUR VERDICT

Cloud computing is all the rage at the moment, the idea being that instead of storing files on your computer (how old fashioned), you store them online and access data and services via the Internet. Users of MobileMe, Box.net, SugarSync or Dropbox will all know this sort of service. They're great for safe storage, backup, and most of all—remote access. The ability to access and stream all your music, movies, and photographs on the move solves the problem of storing and syncing files with laptops, iPhones and other devices.