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NETGEAR Product Manager Q&A

/ Sep 14th, 2011 No Comments

NETGEAR Interview

NETGEARNETGEAR is a brand name that almost all gamers know, going back to the first days of home wired and wireless networking. Historically, their brand has been viewed positively, known for quality products at a competitive price. As technology continues to be adopted in new ways in the home, NETGEAR has increased their offerings. As the home gets more connected with a console gaming system (such as a PS3 or Xbox 360), desktop computers, laptops, tablets and more, there’s a growing need for a central data repository that does more than just keep your files safe. In this Q&A, we sat down with Tiffany Pham, Product Line Manager, Desktop Storage for NETGEAR. We discuss NETGEAR’s storage line of NAS devices to introduce our audience to the concept of having a NAS and all it has to offer and find out what makes NETGEAR an industry leader.

GI – If we did this interview about NAS devices a few years ago we would probably talk about “power users” adopting your product. But nowadays it seems that the average joe is interested in having a storage solution. Can you talk about the evolution of your consumer group for NAS devices over the last few years?

TP – The average joe now has more mobile devices in the home and is now realizing the benefits of having devices play together on the network. There’s a shift towards laptops over desktops, and folks don’t want to be hampered by being tied down to USB storage, or in the case of an average home, multiple storage devices. Disk usage is growing as folks are saving a lot of multi-megapixel photos; unfortunately, without backups, a disk failure can be quite catastrophic, especially with larger capacity drives that are more prone to fail. A NAS with built-in redundancy with RAID along with comprehensive backup services, DLNA streaming, photo sharing, and remote accessibility to your data is a natural fit in a home and we are seeing a shift in the way consumers think about NAS.

GI – There’s a very long lineup within your Storage division. Within the Simple Sharing section there are three products, within the Work and Play section there are fifteen and within the High Performance section there are three – for a grand total of 21 different products available. Is there a concern that even a power user might get lost looking for the right device?

NETGEAR ReadyNAS Ultra 4

NETGEAR ReadyNAS Ultra 4

TP – Our thought was to provide solutions that fit different price points and requirements of the users. Not everyone needs the ability to transcode video for instance, and folks who don’t wouldn’t have to pay for a higher-end ReadyNAS that could. However, the power user that requires that don’t mind paying a little extra for the extra power as well as the capability to expand capacity to a larger array of drives. It’s just like the PC world – not everyone needs or wants to pay for the fastest gaming system, but those who are into gaming will.

GI – The Simple Sharing line – would it be accurate to say this line is best if you are looking for a good solid storage solution, without all the bells and whistles?

TP – The ReadyNAS is a solid product and folks buy it because they know the company behind it stands by it with the best warranty in the business, as well as the best open community supporting it. That said, ReadyNAS systems offer add-on services not only from NETGEAR, but from third-party companies and community developers that expand the capability of the ReadyNAS in more ways than anything out there. The Simple Sharing line (i.e. Stora) is targeted at Consumers who are not as tech savvy and are looking for an easy to use storage devices that can be managed/accessed primarily via the web.

GI – The Work and Play ReadyNAS Ultra series seems like it’s your bread-and-butter line. This is where your tech geeks will most likely end up, so that they can do some serious file sharing, media streaming and more?

TP – We certainly see quite a number of prosumers going for the higher-end Ultra for home. The Ultra series is intended for media enthusiasts looking for the best media serving/sharing performance.

GI – The High Performance ReadyNAS Ultra Plus series looks like it just goes for all out maximum performance. What’s the typical use case for this line of product?

TP – The extra CPU horsepower on those units allow for faster processing of anything CPU-intensive that gets run on the ReadyNAS. This can help for instance in a video streaming environment where media files on the ReadyNAS is transcoded in real-time and streamed to various resolution requirement of the playback devices. The Ultra Plus series delivers approximately 30% faster transfer speeds than the Ultra series.

GI – You’ve managed to integrate a couple of really cool features, specifically the ability to jive with TiVO as well as DLNA technology. We’ve seen DLNA support from other vendors, but certainly not TiVO and DLNA together. Is this a Netgear exclusive? Could you talk about your alliance with TiVO?

TP – We do have a partnership with TiVO, but much of the DLNA enhancements we implement on the ReadyNAS is the result of our open source project called miniDLNA. ReadyDLNA which is NETGEAR’s proprietary extension of miniDLNA allows for enhancements like TiVO integration that no other NAS vendor is able to do.

GI – One thing we read on your website is “The Netgear Difference” … how would you define that difference for us and what goes into your products that makes it an industry leader?

TP – Specifically on the NETGEAR ReadyNAS product line, we strive to connect with our customers. You can see this by how the entire team interacts with our community on with regular blogs, forum presence, and regular updates on Twitter and Facebook. Our users go as far back as 7 years ago, and our latest firmware update still work with the very first systems that we shipped back then, a great testament I think that defines how we are different and why we have a good following.

NETGEAR ReadyNAS Ultra 6

NETGEAR ReadyNAS Ultra 6

The NETGEAR Difference includes the following:

  • X-RAID2 – NETGEAR’s proprietary RAID management application automatically and dynamically configures RAID setting during expansion and migration.
  • ReadyDLNA – NETGEAR’s proprietary extension of miniDLNA allows for the best streaming experience with other DLNA certified/compliant devices and integrated backup support for TiVo DVRs.
  • ReadyNAS Remote – NETGEAR’s proprietary private cloud technology provides home users with secure remote/mobile access to their ReadyNAS files.
  • ReadyNAS Photos II (available on Ultra, Ultra Plus, Pro lines) – NETGEAR’s proprietary HD photo-sharing application with sleek user interface and customizable playlist in slideshow mode.
  • Industry leading warranty terms – NETGEAR offers 3 yrs on all Home Desktop and 5 yrs on all Business Desktops while other competitors offer 1-2 years only on both.

GI – Since your software architecture is Linux based, your user community has totally embraced developing what you are calling “add-ons” which we think is a pretty awesome thing to bring to your consumer base. There are file managers, iPhone Apps, media streaming and other really helpful utilities. What does it mean to have such great community support?

TP – Quite a lot, and we certainly don’t take for granted. Quite a number of folks in our community are regulars on our forum and they constantly help folks who have questions or when they hit a snag. We were the first to open up our boxes to shell access, and we were the first to provide a full SDK to create add-ons to extend the capability of our boxes. We understand that we can’t add in every feature that our users want, so having the community developer help out with that has turned out to be a great for everyone.

GI – For users just diving into a new Netgear device, which of these apps are really worth taking a look at?

TP – Our latest is ReadyNAS Photos II, which is a complete redesign of our initial ReadyNAS Photos add-on. The latest provides the rich photo sharing experience that we feel is worthy of what professional photographers want, including background music to slideshows, categories within an album, comments and favorites, Eye-Fi integration, and the ability to upload images from mobile devices.

Another cool add-on is Plex, which allows the ReadyNAS to transcode and stream photos, music, and video stored on the ReadyNAS to Plex clients installed on Macs, PCs, and mobile devices, whether the devices are on or away from your LAN. Imagine being able to stream your movies to your iPhone or iPad at a coffee shop or at the airport.

And if you want secure remote access to your ReadyNAS, I would recommend ReadyNAS Remote. It makes remote access to your ReadyNAS as simple as drag & drop via the Windows Explorer or Finder. There’s no port-forwarding or complicated VPN setup. And unlike WebDAV-based solutions, full access control is maintained, so in a multi-user environment, you can elect to collaborate on a folder or keep things private. For mobile users, there’s even a ReadyNAS Remote app or iOS and Android platforms.

GI – What is Netgear’s involvement with the gaming community and is this market of users of a high level of importance?

TP – Gaming consoles like the PS3 and XBox 360 are excellent media clients and make great playback devices for media stored on the ReadyNAS. With the DLNA service on the ReadyNAS, these consoles are great for showing off slideshows of photos, playing MP3s, and streaming HD videos, all of which can be centralized on your ReadyNAS.

GI – It looks like redundant methods of backup, via RAID or your new cloud service seems to be a hot items these days. What separates your cloud-based storage option from the competition?

TP – Folks put money in the bank and valuables in a safe deposit box. But they don’t necessarily think about safeguarding their data offsite. Data can be just as valuable if not more, and it just takes theft, fire, or natural disasters for permanent data loss, even if you had RAID. With ReadyNAS Vault, a simple 3-click setup allows you to backup what you store on your ReadyNAS to the cloud. 2GB of cloud storage for 2 years come free with each ReadyNAS Ultra devices.

GI – For those shopping for a NAS device, could you give them the top reason they should choose NETGEAR?

TP – Perhaps reasons: Best DLNA and TiVO experience, unmatched drag & drop remote access, comprehensive backup options including Time Machine and Vault, by far the best photos sharing with Photos II, X-RAID2 automatic capacity expansion, excellent community add-on developers, a great community backing, and the best warranty in the industry.

Gaming Illustrated would like to thank Tiffany Pham and the rest of the NETGEAR team that took the time to put this Q&A together. Stay tuned to Gaming Illustrated for an upcoming review of a NETGEAR NAS product!

Sean W. Gibson

Sean W. Gibson

Founder, Featured Contributor at Gaming Illustrated
Sean Gibson has been the owner and Executive Editor of Gaming Illustrated for over eleven years. His roles include acting as CEO and President of Gaming Illustrated, LLC and also includes being a reviewer, previewer and interviewer. Sean's opinions on this site do not reflect those of his full-time employer.
Sean W. Gibson
Sean W. Gibson

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