While we’ve featured hundreds of network attached storage servers on these pages from specialists like QNAP, Synology and ASUSTOR, many favour the familiarity of a brand that they see on the shelves of their favourite big-box store week-in, week-out. NETGEAR is one of those brands.
With a wide range of networking lines covering the whole spectrum of consumer, prosumer and small business needs, NETGEAR is also the worldwide leader in NAS/Unified Storage system unit shipments. Announced at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, the $329.99 (diskless) NETGEAR ReadyNAS RN-202 is a compact, two-bay network attached storage server targeting home users. It’s part of the ReadyNAS 200 Series, which also includes a $499 (diskless) 4-bay option (RN-204) for consumers requiring additional storage expansion. With support for 6 TB hard drives, you can add your own drives to create up to 12 TB capacity on the 2-bay model, and a mighty 24 TB on the 4-bay device.
Both ReadyNAS 200 series devices are powered by a dual-core, 1.4 GHz ARM Cortex A15 processor (the Annapurna AL212) with 2 GB RAM in support. That’s a change from many of the consumer NAS devices we’ve reviewed recently which opt for Intel Celeron processors, although the same CPU recently popped up in the Synology DiskStation DS-215+. The specification is a reasonably decent step up from the entry-level ReadyNAS 100 series, which include a 1.2 GHz Marvell Armada 370 processor and just 512 MB RAM.
Dual Gigabit Ethernet ports are included, supporting a link aggregation feature which provides optimised throughput as well as a fallback should a problem occur with one of the network connections. NETGEAR is claiming file transfer speeds of 200 Mbps (megabytes per second) read and 160 Mbps write, which is a significant boast for this class of device.
We’ll check out performance later in the review. But, before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look at the NETGEAR ReadyNAS RN-202 hardware.
What’s in the Box?
The ReadyNAS 202 is attractively presented in a branded outer box that safely protects the NAS in transit. The package includes:
- NETGEAR ReadyNAS RN-202
- 1 x CAT 5e Network Cable
- Power Supply & Cables
- Screws for mounting 2.5″ hard drives (3.5″ drives use integral mounting brackets)
- Installation Guide
The new ReadyNAS 200 series features a new design, faster processor and more RAM than previous generations of ReadyNAS device. The compact (220 (d) x 101 (w) x 142 mm (h)) device looks good, with a plain black chassis that you won’t need to hide away in a cupboard – it’s small enough to place on a desktop or shelf without causing too much disruption.
The case is mostly steel, with the exception of a glossy, plastic front door that is hinged on the left with a cut-out for the front panel controls. The door closes securely with two magnets holding it in place – a simple design feature, but one that works well. Obviously, as you’d expect for a consumer-grade device, there are no locks on the door or the drives bays that are positioned behind.
A simple front panel provides convenient access and control. Alongside the top power button and LED indicator, you’ll find additional indicators for each of the two hard drives. A USB 3.0 ports offers easy access for copying data to a portable USB key and there’s a handy one-touch backup button for copying files in the other direction.
Around the back, a large rear exhaust fan dominates proceedings. Underneath, two more USB 3.0 ports offer super-speed (up to 5 Gbps) transfers to external storage devices as well as peripheral connection and there’s an eSATA port for additional storage expansion. The previously mentioned twin Gigabit Ethernet ports are joined by a reset button, Kensington lock for securing the device physically and the usual power input. A simple, unfussy and clear layout that won’t bamboozle.