As we anticipated in our 2008 predictions, the demand for Network-Attached Storage (NAS) devices at home is rapidly increasing.
Apple announcement of Time Capsule, even if not a proper NAS, goes into that direction.
There are two trends we all recognize in our digital style-life:
1) An increasing number of media files (photos, music and videos) that we handle in our computers media libraries. Movies and songs are downloaded on-line. DVDs and CDs are ripped to digital media libraries. No more room for space-consuming DVD/CD physical libraries. And no room for the hassle of inserting discs. Personalized playlists and jukebox-like operation is the rule.
2) The number of computers at home is increasing. From one desktop family PC to multiple personal laptops, plus game consoles, DLNA media extenders, and other home networked devices to come (IP cameras, home robots…)
In that environment, a shared storage attached to the home network is a must so that heavy media files do not have to be stored in each laptop at home. The media files in a central location are accessed through the network by any Media Player: laptops, Xbox 360 or PS3, or other Media Extenders.
Folowing those trends, Microsoft has created Microsoft Home Server. HP SmartMedia Home Server is based on Microsoft software.
As we all get more conscious about energy saving, specially for an always-on device, and as a home server can be simplified as pure shared storage, NAS devices are positioning as a wise low cost solution.
Taiwanese QNAP has designed a low-cost NAS targeted for homes. Apart from shared storage with user replaceable drives, QNAP NAS also features:
– a DLNA built-in media server, so that media extenders can access all shared media
– a Bittorrrent client, manageable through a web interface
– 14W power comsuption in operation (6.6W in sleep mode). Fan-less noise-free design.
Linksys and D-link have a similar products, including the built-in media server, but without the Bittorrent client.
Apple Time Capsule is the latest addition. While bundling a network drive with a 802.11n router is a wise idea ( both are always-on devices), it is meant to only backup the Macbooks at home. No media server, no Bittorrent but stylishly packaged and built to easily integrate with Apple family.