So I notice that FutureShop here in Canada is selling a $100 250GB external hard drive that can, apparently, either use a USB connection to your computer like normal or can be plugged in directly to a hub or switch as a networked drive.
So let’s say I bought this and loaded it up with mp3s from my collection. Could the Xbox 360 be configured to see that drive like it does my mp3 folder on my computer?
Probably not. The 360 needs software running (either Microsoft’s thing, or something like TVersity or Orb) to stream music and videos from a PC. I doubt a standalone network hard drive could do what the 360 wants, but maybe.
Yeah, what Evilidler said. As long as the drive uses standard USB mass storage protocol the Xbox 360 will let you play music and view pictures, etc (but only your own stuff, not Xbox Live Marketplace content) from it, via USB. The ethernet link is not of much use on the 360 side because it does need a streaming server or media center server on the other side to stream files over ethernet which the drive almost certainly can’t run natively without involving your turned-on computer in some way.
You might want to look around for other USB drive options unless you really need the somewhat rare ethernet/USB dual thing because in general the bump from 250 GB to 500 GB on those external drives tends to be small in price while the space increase is quite large.