Dubbed Shared Storage Plus, the 200GB to 500GB drive can be connected to a cabled Ethernet network or to a network router -- a wireless one, for instance -- so that its contents can be shared across the home or small office.
Included software lets each user backup and restore files at will, while something called "SimpleView" acts like a virtual IT administrator to provide backup and storage status at a glance to all users. Users can share folders or lock them down by assigning access rights, and the software automatically identifies and sorts more than 100 different Windows file types and drops them into music, photo, movie, Web, software, or documents folders.
Because the drive supports streaming media via compatible UPnP AV digital media adapters, a home can use the device as centralized storage for all video, photo, and music files, where users could simultaneously listen to music in one room on a wireless networked sound system and play digital movies in another room on yet another networked entertainment system. No active PC need be on the network to share and stream files.
Shared Storage Plus will be available in 200GB, 300GB, and 500GB models, at prices of $300, $400, and $500, respectively. All are to ship in October.
Maxtor also said that owners of its Shared Storage drive -- which first went on sale in January -- can upgrade to Shared Storage Plus functionality at no charge by downloading additional software from the company's support site in October.