Netgear's ReadyNAS Ultra Allows Prosumer Digital Media Sharing

Netgear's new ReadyNAS Ultra family of 2-bay, 4-bay, and 6-bay home NAS appliances not only store a consumer's digital media, it also makes that media accessible from any networked device, as well as from networked devices from remote locations.

It does this using technology from Skifta, a developer of software that allows digital media to be accessed from anywhere over a network, whether by the owner of the media looking to access it from a remote location, or by the owners' friends or community from their own locations.

The ReadyNAS Ultra appliances represent Netgear's re-focus on the "prosumer," or professional consumer, market, said Drew Meyer, director of storage marketing for the San Jose, Calif.-based vendor.

"We're re-establishing ourselves in the prosumer space," Meyer said. "Recently, we've been more focused on the SMB commercial market. With the ReadyNAS Ultra, we're focused on the prosumer geek guys with complicated home entertainment systems."

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The ReadyNAS Ultra is the first storage product with Skifta media-sharing capabilities, Meyer said.

Skifta works with UPnP and DLNA consumer electronics devices such as televisions, gaming consoles, and stereo equipment.

UPnP, or Universal Plug and Play, lets devices connect seamlessly to home or commercial networks.

DLNA, or Digital Living Network Alliance, is a group of electronics manufacturers who have agreed on standards and guidelines for digital sharing of content between multiple consumer electronics devices.

When two homes each have devices with the Skifta software installed, they can connect to each other to share digital media over the Internet through any UPnP and DLNA devices, Meyer said. The Skifta software allows sharing between only two devices at one time to prevent a user from broadcasting content to multiple users, he said.

The devices are also the first to include Orb technology, which Meyer said allows digital content to be accessed by a portable device like an iPhone or an Android device automatically without the need to manually convert it.

The Netgear ReadyNAS Ultra appliances are also the first to provider networked TiVo-compatible DVR streaming, Meyer said. This lets users stream programs captured by a TiVo DVR to any TiVo box in the house without additional software or computers.

The 4-bay ReadyNAS Ultra 4 is list priced at $899.99 with two 2-TB hard drives. The 6-bay ReadyNAS Ultra 6 is list priced at $1,349.99 with three 2-TB hard drives. Both are slated to ship this month.

The 2-bay ReadyNAS Ultra 2 is expected to ship in October.

The devices can also be purchased with no hard drives installed, which means users can choose their own hard drives, including the 3-TB drives expected to hit the market soon, Meyer said.