Review: Noontec Gigalink N5


[This review originally appeared in the December 2011 issue of Gadgets Magazine]

By: Steven Vea

Cloud storage is definitely the next big trend, not just because it offers an easy way to manage files, but because it lets you maximize the potential of your mobile device. The Noontec Gigalink N5 offers just that—at an extremely affordable price.

Out of the box, the N5 is coated with a white glossy finish that will easily blend in with any Apple-based setup. It looks great and its interface adopts a very classic and minimalist design. The front of the unit only has a tiny LED light to indicate power and on the right side you’ll find the air/cooling vent. Peering at the rear reveals the N5’s LAN port, USB 2.0 port, reset button, power button and the input for the power adapter. Other than that, there is nothing else on the exterior of this media player, which is actually great, design-wise.

When it comes to build quality, I must admit that it leaves more to be desired. It feels lightweight and might not survive a face-to-face meeting with the floor. But you won’t accidentally knock the N5 onto the ground if it’s resting on a flat surface, since it is propped up by slip-resistant rubber stands that keep it firmly in place. Additionally, I did personally find the N5 was a little too big for my liking, considering that with a very minimalist design, a few millimeters could have been shaved off its dimensions.

The Noontec Gigalink N5 is packaged with only a power adapter, LAN cable and four screws which secure the 3.5-inch SATA desktop drive. Installing the hard drive is relatively easy (it supports up to 3TB), but does require you to unscrew the bottom plate in order to place the drive inside. But since we have opposable thumbs, this job is very easy and shouldn’t take more than five minutes. Also worthy of note is the lack of accessories/components, which does well to foreshadow the N5’s very simple setup time.

So what does the Noontec N5 offer you? It acts a Network Attached Storage (NAS) and a cloud server to provide a central place in your home where multiple users can access all your stored media, whether its family photos, downloaded movies, or music libraries. You can also enable it to download torrents (which I’m sure many Filipinos will appreciate), and it has the ability to automatically download for you even if your PC is turned off, effectively saving power and shaving off numbers on your electric bill. Another great thing about the N5 is that if you don’t want to use it as a NAS, you can use it as a Direct-Attached Storage (DAS) aka external hard drive via USB.

Setting up the Noontec Gigalink N5 is quite easy (in fact, it pretty much sets itself up), requiring very little action on your part, which is great. However, a few users might not like the seemingly outdated interface of the WebDav app that you install on your mobile device. The great thing is that it supports Android and iOS, allowing you to access files stored on the N5 anywhere you are with virtually any device, and up to 4 users can access it at any given time. Moreover, it also works across platforms, whether it’s Windows, OS or Linux/Unix.

The N5 is surprisingly versatile and reliable. Although at times it can be a bit sluggish, the lags are not noticeable enough for you to get frustrated with. I admit I initially had my doubts in the beginning, because of the extremely affordable price that the Noontec Gigalink N5 is offered at, but it’s a remarkably efficient NAS media center that definitely gives more value than it financially costs.

In the end, if you’re looking for way for your family to share files at home, or if you simply want your own form of personal cloud storage, then the Noontec Gigalink N5 is a great buy.

What’s hot
– attractive retail price
-simple design
-can be used as a DAS

What’s not
-WebDAV interface
-build quality

Buy Meter: 8.5

The Noontec Gigalink N5 is an affordable and efficient NAS media center that should find its way into your home.

10Mbps/100Mbps/1000Mbps Auto-adjust LAN
Supports up to 3TB
Supports PPPoE and DDNS
Supports SAMBA, FTP (up to 16 users)
Built-in BT client
Built in media server
Supports Windows, Mac OS, Linux
Can be used as a DAS