Promise SmartStor DS4600 DAS review -
Meet the Promise SmartStor DS4600 - Product gallery (2)
The backside - Here we can see the ventilation hole, really silent by the way. I really like that about the DS4600. A very unusual power connector, I would have liked to seen the traditional EURO power connector (the same one as PSUs have). The adapter is auto switching meaning it can take 110 and 230 Volts. To your left, connectivity. Let's zoom in.
So I rotated the angle to show this a little better. All the way top the left the power on/off switch. If you like to force a power down of the unit, hold that one for 5 seconds. Then USB 2.0, eSATA and the FireWire 800 and 400 connectors.
You'll recieve four plastic retention clips. You secure them to your HDDs and then can slide in the HDD into the drive bay. The last bit is a gentle and smooth process.
The retention clips themselves are flimsy .. very bendy plastic really. I like to see something more sturdy resting in rubber mounts. Above an example of the WD VelociRaptor installed. Sound dampening works well by the way, even with a VelociRaptor installed there's literally hardly any resonating noises etc.
To top it off, you'll spot a lot of LED activated lights in the unit once powered up. It's a nearly perfect finish for the design of the DAS unit, that looks really classy.
See that big knob what looks like a power button? That's the one-touch Configuration button which will instantly force a backup or when applicable, or when you hold it down a little longer, automatically configure a RAID array when new hard drives are installed. If there are two drives, it will configure a RAID 1 array; for three or four drives it will use a RAID 5 or 10 configuration. For RAID 5 that also means that with three or four drives you'll use parity bits and thus lose some of the HDD total volume size.
On the bright side, if one HDD fails .. pop in a new one and no data will be lost. I do would like to see a manual preference in-between RAID 0-1- or 5 in the software. After initialization the array needs to be formatted with an NTFS file system in Windows.
Armed with new a new GUI and priced very competitive Promise offers the SmartStor series NS4600 NAS unit with four swappable HDD bays, RAID functionality, eSATA, Gigabit Ethernet, USB (2.0) and then a heap of software functionality that blows you away completely. I mean this thing can download torrents, has an FTP server, a MySQL server, a WEB server, built-in media center, torrent download client and iTunes Server. It's compatible with all major OSes and sure of course has user and group based management as well.
Promise SmartStor DS4600 DAS review
There is something in-between the NAS and standalone HDD enclosures, and we call that technology DAS -- Device Attached Storage, for the consumer market quite a new phrase to learn and understand. Today we test one, yes it will be more expensive as a normal HDD enclosure yet much cheaper than a NAS device, the unit we look at today for example is aesthetically very pleasing, can hold four high performance drives in hot-swappable drive bays, it is really fast, energy efficient, silent and comes with a plethora of connectivity towards your PC, like eSATA, USB, FireWire (400/800), of and I'd almost forget it .. is RAID 0|1|5 compatible.