After the huge success of Netgear's ReadyNAS NV+, which came with four drive bays, Netgear has released a smaller, two-drive version for those who have more modest needs. Coming in the usual box shape, Netgear's ReadyNAS Duo also comes in the usual black. On each side is a double strip of perforated air vents, on the rear two USB ports and a gigabit Ethernet port, with the front featuring a USB port, a programmable backup button, drive indicator lights and a power button.
Opening up the perforated front door reveals two quick release, hot-swappable drive bays, and this is where the ReadyNAS Duo stores its two SATA drives. There are three SKUs on the market, available with either a 500GB (RND2150, AU$699 — our test unit), 750GB (RND2175, AU$869) or 1TB (RND2110, AU$949) hard drive, all three leaving the second bay empty. We'd prefer there was one sold without drives at all to keep the cost down, but it's not to be.
This is where Netgear flattens and dominates everything else on the market. The ReadyNAS Duo is ridiculously well featured, and although the interface is loaded up with technical network terms, it is well thought out, easy to use, and in most circumstances it explains in clear and concise detail what each feature does. You'll still need to be technically minded to take the most advantage of it, but to the geek crowd, it approaches perfection.
The feature list is impressive: file sharing is offered over CIFS/SMB, NFS, FTP, AFP, HTTP, HTTPS or Rsync (with individual shares being able to use specific protocols); media streaming via Slimserver, iTunes, UPnP AV and Home Media Streaming (for networked DVD players) servers. It offers Bonjour and UPnP discovery services; auto-photo sharing to the internet; a USB print server including queue management; scheduled backups, even to off-site devices; shared USB drives, and auto copying of files from a USB drive to a specified folder (useful if you're hooking up a digital camera); drive spin down with a user definable idle time limit; a BitTorrent server, so you can download straight to your NAS without needing your computer on; user and group account control with permissions and share management; allows performance enhancements by disabling certain network features; supports UPS management and like all good NAS devices, will send you an email alert when something goes wrong. You can even schedule a timer for when the system powers up and down, if you're energy conscious.