The more things change...
In between releases of Netgear's ReadyNAS series the rest of the market has caught up, with companies such as QNAP and Synology challenging the prosumer range for both polish and feature set.
Netgear's latest, the Ultra series, doesn't stray much from the formula at all, with the six-bay version looking almost identical to the two-year-old ReadyNAS Pro.
X-RAID 2 is here as well, with Netgear and Drobo still the only NAS makers that offer a "mix and match"-style RAID solution. While traditional RAID will allow mismatched disk sizes, it will restrict capacity of each to that of the smallest disk, wasting space.
X-RAID 2 is a little more flexible. Once you have two identically sized disks in the array, you can then add any sized disk you desire to increase storage space, with extra gigabytes not being wasted away. Of course, you can still opt for vanilla RAID 0, 1, 5 or 6 if the fancy takes you. ReadyNAS 4 users will lose out on RAID 6 due to there not being enough disks, while ReadyNAS 6 owners get the option of dual-redundancy X-RAID 2.
Booting things up, the ReadyNAS Ultra's fans are really quite loud. It eventually pipes down to something bearable, but Netgear really needs to look into a new cooling system.
The quick removable drive caddies are hidden by a swing-out door, above which is an LED screen that displays basic information like the NAS's current IP, the amount of disk capacity consumed and which disks are active/dysfunctional. There's a USB port on the front, two on the back and dual-gigabit Ethernet with support for jumbo frames, but no teaming or failover.
The USB ports will support printers, storage and UPS, while a button above the front USB port acts as a shortcut to user-defined backup jobs that have been set up in the UI.
Interestingly, inside is an Atom 1.66GHz dual-core processor, much like. We've expressed concerns in the past about how an Atom processor will survive in a multi-user environment, but for now it's just speculation — we have not the tools to test the theory.
The interface hasn't changed much since the previous revision either — a shame, as now it not only feels out of date, but the restricted vertical height makes scrolling the UI very annoying.
Prepare to scroll a lot. Netgear's UI is dated and small.
(Screenshot by CBS Interactive)
Still, there must be something new here, right, or why else would there be a new release? TiVo support is the high flyer, allowing you to record and play back from the ReadyNAS. Rather than build its own mobile app, Netgear has also started a partnership with Orb to stream from NAS to device. We've never been fans of Orb, and user reviews of its app on Android and iTunes are rather telling regarding the quality.