|Hitachi LifeStudio Mobile Plus 500GB External Drive|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Storage|
|Written by Dan Ferguson|
|Friday, 24 September 2010|
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Hitachi LifeStudio Software
When first connecting the Mobile Plus hard drives about 6 USB device drivers were installed to the operating system. A quick check of hard drives showed that three drives had been installed; one CD drive, one hard drive, and one USB drive. The CD drive is embedded in the hard drive and contains the innovative LifeStudio software.
During installation two services and two applications were created. The first service was HitachiBackupServices.exe which consumes about 27 Kb at idle. This is the service responsible for performing scheduled backups to the main hard drive. The second service was LifeStudioTray.exe which consumes about 38 Kb at idle. This service is apparently responsible for monitoring the drives and synchronizing the content. Both appear to be necessary to take full advantage of the LifeStudio features.
As can probably be guessed, the first application created is Hitachi Backup.exe. Under idle conditions the program consumes 123 Kb of memory. The screenshot above shows the very basic interface for this program. By default the user profile is saved to the LifeStudio hard drive, but other folders can be manually added. Backups can be performed automatically by the software or on a daily schedule. The number of previous versions can also be specified.
Unfortunately there are no additional settings that can be configured. This limited interface leaves many questions unanswered. Doe the backup verify the files once they are copied? Are hidden and system files saved? If I backup a very large space are the backups full copies, differential or incremental? It would be nice to have included some little options like file types, backup type, compression, etc. Perhaps Hitachi wanted to keep things simple for a wide target market. One way to please advanced users is to have a slightly obscured "Advanced" page where these extra settings can be configured. Neglecting these additions results in a "nerfed" backup program. It will be adequate to save the family photos, but probably not appropriate for a system backup.
In addition to the local automatic storage the Hitachi software allows backups to be performed to an online "storage cloud". From Hitachi Backup you can sign up for a free trial or purchase additional online storage. When files are saved to the hard drive as well as online they have double the protection in case of unexpected calamity. A flood in the basement will nuke an external drive just as easily as it will your computer.
The last program installed with the LifeStudio package is the actual LifeStudio software. LifeStudio.exe is a medium-weight application powered by Coolpix. At idle the application consumed 230 Kb of memory. This program is the core of the entire LifeStudio product line. The software is centered around what Hitachi calls, "The 3D Wall". It is a virtual wall of images that represent individual files found on the LifeStudio hard drives, local hard drives or even on the internet. The number of rows on the wall is one of the few configuration options available inside the program.
The wall can be scrolled left or right either by a slider at the bottom of the window or simply by clicking and dragging the mouse. As the wall moves the perspective shifts to an angled view allowing more images to be seen as they fly by at a faster rate. Once the movement stops the wall returns to a normal, flat view. Files can be activated by clicking on an image. Once activate the image centers and magnifies. Clicking on this enlarged window puts the software into full screen mode.
In addition to manual browsing, LifeStudio has a slideshow mode which will show each image on the wall in sequential order.This works well for images, but it does not perform as expected for music or videos. Instead of playing each song or video in playlist fashion it shows the static image for each file in sequential order. When an external program is required to provide playlist functionality for music it defeats the purpose of using a content manager to access the files from one location. This is not a huge deal for videos, but it is a critical shortfall for music. On their website Hitachi says they make periodic updates to the LifeStudio software. Hopefully this feature will be added soon.