Netgear's latest addition to the world of networked attached storage isn't a NAS in the traditional sense. Rather than the usual Web UI offering or mapping a networked drive, Netgear configures everything from a local client, and installs a driver which makes the device appear as an ordinary drive on your computer. This makes the device less useful as network storage and more of a backup drive, but it becomes obvious fairly quickly that this was Netgear's decision all along.
The Storage Central Turbo follows the tried and true last generation Apple-esque design of white and grey. The front panel can be lifted off to insert your separately purchased hard drives, the same panel having indication lights for power, hard drive activity and network activity.
The rear is positively sparse, with only the drive releases, power button, gigabit Ethernet port, power jack and an emergency reset hole.
Since it's treated as a local drive that just happens to be on the network, rather than a fully fledged network drive, features are limited. The lack of direct network access is made even more frustrating given that each drive is assigned an individual IP address on top of the unit's own IP, meaning the total device takes up three IPs while in operation.
After installing the driver, the client allows for essentially two modes of operation -- single drive, or mirrored (RAID 1) mode, choosing to eschew RAID 0 or JBOD options. These two modes are next to pointless for Network Attached Storage (NAS) anyway, but it's interesting to note that Netgear didn't cave to the "tick the feature check box" mentality that plagues others.
You can password a drive for protection on the network, but anyone who wants to access the device will need Netgear's "Storage Central Manager" on their PC in the first place. SmartSync Pro is included, so you can backup to the drive easily.
Thankfully here the Netgear didn't disappoint, transferring a 1GB file across the network in a speedy one minute, 15 seconds in mirrored mode, and a super quick 46 seconds in single drive mode. The fan was a little noisy and chunked a bit, but was ultimately bearable -- hopefully the next revision will look into acoustics a little more.
The Netgear Storage Central is a bit of a weird hybrid -- if you're not going to allow direct network access, and hence open up the benefits of local servers or Internet access, why bother connecting the device over the network at all? Perhaps a better choice would have been to just stick with USB or FireWire. In the mean time, we'll stick to D-Link's DNS323 for our NAS needs.