Pogoplug is a clever $99 gizmo that lets you plug USB hard drives into your home network, so you can access their contents–photos, music, movies, and more–across the Internet. As anyone who’s used it knows, much of the cleverness lies in the nicely-done Web-based interface (and mobile apps) you use to connect to the drives and get at the stuff on them. And today, Pogoplug is releasing a software-only version for Windows and Macs that lets you experience that cleverness without investing in the gizmo.
Pogoplug’s software-based version works just like the hardware device, except the drive it’s putting on the Web is the one inside the Windows PC or Mac the software is running on. Once you installed the application on a computer and let it index your files, they’re available to you from any Web browser and from PogoPlug’s iPhone/iPad and Android apps.
The Pogoplug service and mobile apps aggregates all your content across all your Pogoplug-enabled drives; as you listen to music, watch videos, and peruse photos, you don’t need to figure out where you stored them. They’re all there, organized into albums (for music) and timeline views (for videos and photos). You can also share individual items with other people using e-mail or (in the browser-based interface) Facebook.
Unlike SugarSync, Google Music Beta, Microsoft’s SkyDrive, Apple’s upcoming iCloud, and umpteen other services, using Pogoplug doesn’t involve transferring your files into a great hard drive in the sky–it stays put wherever it is, and is only accessible when it’s on a disk that’s connected to the Internet. That means that the software version is most useful if you’ve got one or more computers which you tend to leave on most or all of the time. But it also means that there are no ongoing fees, and that it’s as easy to put a terabyte of media online as it is to share a gigabyte or two.
Pogoplug’s new software is available in two versions: a freebie edition that lets you stream photos anywhere and music within your home network, and a $29 Premium version that adds music streaming outside the local network and video streaming everywhere. (That’s $29 per Pogoplug account, not per computer, and it’s a one-time fee.)
The Pogoplug folks were nice enough to provide us a special link which will let 200 Technologizer readers get the $29 version for free. If you check it out, let us know what you think.