Networking and storage in Las Vegas: What didn't stay there

Highlights of CES 2010 in networking and storage categories.

Dong Ngo SF Labs Manager, Editor / Reviews
CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews 3D printers, networking/storage devices, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.
Dong Ngo
3 min read
The NMP1000 from QNAP, the first digital content player that's also a NAS server. Dong Ngo/CNET

LAS VEGAS--CES 2010 has come to an end, and unlike most of what happens in Las Vegas, there are quite a few things showgoers want to make sure they carry home. Here are a few that I personally am excited about in the networking and storage categories.

The Plug Computer 3.0 from Marvell. Marvell

First is the debut of USB 3.0 products. The technology was first announced at CES 2009, and at CES 2010 a few companies released their own products, including Seagate, LaCie, Buffalo, and Western Digital.

As there's no motherboard with built-in USB 3.0 controllers yet, all of the new USB 3.0 external hard drives come optional with a controller card. This will change soon as VIA also announced at CES the world's first integrated USB 3.0 controller. It's safe to expect other hardware vendors, such as Intel and AMD, to follow suit, and motherboards as well as computers with built-in USB 3.0 support will be available later this year.

USB 3.0 promises to be the fastest peripheral connection, with a speed of up to 5Gbps and less overhead than USB 2.0. At CES 2010, Seagate demoed an external USB 3.0 solution with a RAID 0 USB 3.0 external hard drive that was actually faster than the demo machine's internal SATA II hard drive. USB 3.0 is backward-compatible with USB 2.0 and 1.1.

Secondly, there will be more features for digital content players. Seagate announced the new upgrade for its FreeAgent Theater+ that will be able to play more Internet content such as Mediafly and potentially (rumor has it) Netflix. LaCie announced its new Internet-connected digital content player, the LaCinema Mini HD, which is compact and has 500GB of built-in storage, and D-Link announced the Boxee Box, which, apart from local sources, focuses heavily on streaming media from a variety of Internet sources.

However, most impressive in the digital playback department is the NMP1000 from the NAS vendor QNAP. This is a network multimedia player that's also an NAS server. This means, aside from doing all that an Internet-ready digital player can do, the NMP1000 is also a NAS server with features similar to that of the QNAP TS-239 Pro.

Now just imagine that you can not only play movies, pictures, and music from the NPM1000 but you can also make it download and store the content directly on its internal storage, without a dedicated computer. Then you can also stream that content to other networked devices. This seems to be an ideal digital content player to me.

The D-Link Rush high-speed access point. Dong Ngo/CNET

In the network-attached storage department, the excitement is around the new Intel Atom dual-core processor. QNAP is the first NAS vendor to debut a series of NAS servers powered by this new chip, includingthe TS-259 Pro, the upgrade to the TS-239 Pro. The company promises to deliver much faster performance.

Finally in networking, wireless-N devices in 2010 will ofter faster speeds than 300Mpbs, which has the the top speed for the N standard up to now. D-Link debuted two of these products with speeds up to 450Mbps, including the D-Link Touch router and D-Link Rush access point. Many other vendors are also working on products of similar cap speed or even faster.

Marvell also announced at CES 2010 its brand new Plug Computer 3.0 that's smaller, sleeker, more powerful and can do a lot more than just be a perfect solution for network storage as the case of its Plug Computer 1.0, the SheevaPlug.

In 2010, networking will also see an all-new way for Wi-Fi devices to connect to one another. At the show, the Wi-Fi Alliance demoed the new Wi-Fi Direct technology that allows for Wi-Fi devices to connect peer-to-peer at high speed and long range without needing a separate access point.

In all, it's looking like we'll have a very exciting new year ahead for storage and networking users.