The Gadget: Newertech's miniStack NAS, which lets up to 20 people access 750GB of data over a 10/100 Ethernet connection.
The Verdict: Mediocre speeds (~6MB/s), quirky drive formatting, limited sharing options, and the mandatory use of their drive mounting utility means this is more suitable as a network drive to share smaller chunks of data rather than a device to use for moving around big files.
The Catch: Only one computer can be in write mode, and it needs to be formatted as FAT32 for Macs and PCs to both be able to access it, which takes a big chunk out of your performance.
The Performance: Filling up that 750GB (about 699GB when formatted) when sending data at 6MB/s means you're going to be sitting there for quite a while. You mount the drive like a normal drive on your Windows and Mac using their drive utility application, which is usable but not great. Unfortunately you can only have one computer mounting the drive as read/write, and the other 19 have to mount as read-only.
Formatting the NAS was a pain as well. Vista could only format the drive as NTFS, and not FAT32, so I couldn't use it as a shared drive between Mac and Windows. After some back and forth with tech support, we finally installed a newer driver and got Vista to format FAT32—which turned out to be not a great idea, because FAT32 on large-sized drives is much slower compared to NTFS.
The NAS also occasionally randomly disconnects, and you'll have to reboot both the NAS and your computer in order to get them both to reconnect. Not something anyone really wants to do.
The Price: $US119 for 80GB all the way up to $US329 for 750GB
The Recommendation: Slow performance thanks to the non-Gigabit Ethernet means you don't want to use this as storage you access often (get another internal drive or a USB drive), but if you have a repository of music or files a lot of people need to access, this could be for you.