If you’re looking for one of the most affordable ways to turn any USB hard drive or flash drive into a network- or cloud-accessible device, LaCie has you covered with its new LaPlug ($75). Designed by Neil Poulton, the simple black box is deceivingly powerful. Plug your drive into the port on the front, and it instantly becomes accessible from any computer on your home network, or even remotely through a browser-based interface.
Not only can you access the drives from your Macs, but content can also be streamed to devices such as the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360—the functionality is somewhat similar to that of an Apple TV. It also interestingly lets you do Time Machine backups to a LaPlug-connected hard drive. Sure, you could do the same thing with a Time Capsule, but those cost at least $224 more. Even when paired with a drive, LaCie’s option is more affordable if you’re willing to give up the router capabilities.