- Easy setup | Convenient file access | Support for various mobile and PC operating systems
- Lacks support and features beyond storage
The Lima Ultra, a tiny device which allows you to create and run your own personal cloud, has hit the mainstream.
The Lima Ultra is geared towards consumers who need a file access and backup system, regardless of which device or OS they are using.
Once connected to a router, the Lima Ultra acts as a personal cloud system which can be accessed from anywhere in the world, while users retain full control over their data and do not have to pay any kind of subscription fee to use a cloud service.
With a price tag of $129, the Lima Ultra is the successor to the original Lima with an improved CPU and hardware designed to increase the power and efficiency of the device.
Now sporting a quad-core 1.5GHz processor, Gigabit Ethernet port, and more RAM than its predecessor, the Lima Ultra is now capable of improved transfer and streaming speeds.
But is the device worth the investment?
The Lima Ultra comes as a kit with the device itself, an Ethernet cable and power cable, as well as an instruction guide. You must provide an external hard drive for storage, which connects to the Lima via USB.
For the purposes of testing, I used a Seagate Expansion 4GB hard drive, although anything up to 8TB is supported.
The device is compatible with the main ecosystems, including Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS, and Android. If you are a Chrome or Windows Phone user, you can access Lima through the web application.
An additional strength of the Lima is that installation takes no more than a few minutes and the instruction manual is no more than a page long. Once you have visited the Lima website to download the installation application -- roughly 111mb and closer to 280mb once unpacked on Mac -- you are asked to accept the Lima T&Cs before either logging in or creating an account.
To create an account, you need to input an email address and password. To boost security, Lima will require a mixture of numbers, letters, and capital letters, and will award you a security "percentage" to outline how secure your password is. Transfers and communication are protected by TLS security.
Lima will then search for available devices, so you need to make sure your product is plugged in and ready to go. At the same time, you need to use the Ethernet cable to connect Lima to your router and your external hard drive to Lima via USB.
Once the device has been discovered, the automatic setup and update process will begin and it takes no more than a few seconds to complete.
At this point, once you click the next prompt, you are at the point of no return when it comes to your hard drive. In order to associate the drive with Lima, anything currently stored on the drive will be erased -- so make sure you have backed up any data on your drive you wish to keep.
You are given the option to back out of the installation if you need to save content. If happy to proceed, the external hard drive is then configured automatically, a "health check" occurs, and you then have the option to authorize Lima on both your PC and mobile device.
Lima also asks you to input your mobile phone number if you wish to give your smartphone access to the cloud storage device.
The service then automatically sends an SMS message. After an hour, however, no message appeared during testing, and so I skipped this step and was eventually able to connect Lima to my Android smartphone at a later stage.
The Lima will now appear as a mounted disk, complete with folders already set up for pictures, video, and music which you can access as long as you have Wi-Fi or mobile broadband available.
There is a reason the Lima Ultra is considered by some a Dropbox alternative. The ease of use and of transferring files between systems in order to access them through others is certainly reminiscent of the web cloud storage service.
The Lima Ultra's core strength lies in its user friendliness, and as a way to backup and store files, it is a valuable device to own as a consumer if you just want to view content over multiple systems. However, some may ask: why not just use Dropbox, or connect an external hard drive directly?
The product does eradicate storage limitations on your mobile devices and gives you the option to access your files remotely, which could certainly prove useful not only to the average consumer, but also business clients. Lima calls the process "Hologram Files Technology"; in other words, you are streaming content directly from your personal cloud rather than storing them locally on your devices.
If you have more than one Lima Ultra or original Lima devices to hand, you can also set them up to backup your data automatically -- and so if one is damaged or breaks, another is waiting in the wings with the same stored files.
However, what could have made this product special was support for UPnP and DLNA streaming.
If you are trying to entice consumers to pay over 100 dollars for a bolt-on device, especially considering how many of us own smart TVs and use services such as Plex and Kodi -- and already have cloud-based storage services to hand -- this functionality would open up the device to a new group of consumers.
Over a year ago, a Lima engineer said in a forum post that UPnP and DLNA streaming support "is a feature that is not available as of now but we certainly intend to add it in a later firmware update."
However, nothing has been heard about this addition since.
According to the product's roadmap, file import improvements, web file sharing, and the ability to change the hard drive are all anticipated in the next firmware release. There is no mention of UPnP and DLNA support as of now.
ZDNet reached out to inquire further, but at the time of writing, there has been no response.
If you wanted to use the Lima Ultra as a network-attached storage (NAS) alternative to more expensive models capable of streaming, you are out of luck for now. Should this feature be included in the future, the Lima will have a place -- and likely a successful future -- in households worldwide.