Netgear ReadyNAS RN214 with Real-time 1080p Transcoding
Having already reviewed the ReadyNAS RN202 personal cloud storage system, we were pleased to find that Netgear hadn’t stopped innovating. The Netgear ReadyNAS RN214 steps things up with a quad core Cortex A15 1.4GHz processor with 2GB RAM. It also has dual Gigabit ethernet ports that can be configured for LACP (Link Aggregation Control Protocol) whereby the two ports will combine for up to 200MB/sec transfer speeds. The advanced processing of the new ReadyNAS 210 series, including the ReadyNAS RN214 we’re reviewing allow it to provide real-time 1080p transcoding as well as near zero performance loss anti-virus.
Since we already reviewed the RN202, this review focuses almost exclusively on the performance features offered by the ReadyNAS RN214 and, in particular, its real-time 1080p transcoding capabilities.
ReadyNAS RN214 Features & Form Factor
Looking at the ReadyNAS RN214 you can see that this is a 4-bay unit that can hold up to 24TB (terabytes) of storage (currently it supports up to 6TB per bay). As mentioned above, the CPU is a quad core Cortex A15 1.4GHz processor—the same kind as you’ll find on some of the latest Chromebook computers. The unit has 2GB of DDR3 RAM. It supports SATA/SSD drives in 2.5″ or 3.5″ configurations—and the drives are hot-swappable. There’s an eSATA expansion port, two Gigabit LAN ports, and three USB 3.0 ports.
Looking at the functionality, here’s what the ReadyNAS RN210 Series comes with:
- RAID redundancy support
- Snapshot file recovery
- Real-time anti-virus for malware and virus protection
- Bit rot protection to defend media degradation
- Cloud backup and sync via ReadyCloud pps on Mac and PC
- Photo upload via smartphone app
- Ethernet-speed music and movie streaming
- DLNA, iTunes, and Plex support
- Real-time transcoding of 1080p video files to 480p using Plex
- Cloud access from either computers or mobile smartphones and tablets
- Hot-swappable hard discs
- LACP Link Aggregation Mode for 2x file transfer performance
Testing the Netgear ReadyNAS RN214
We tested the new Netgear ReadyNAS RN214 for use as a remote TimeMachine backup for a Retina iMac workstation and also to stream both movies and music. Since we covered much of this in our review of the Netgear RN202, I wanted to focus on what this new quad core processor could do—namely, provide real-time 480p transcoding of streaming media over the cloud.
The ReadyNAS 202 is powered by a dual core ARM Cortex A15 1.4GHz processor with 2GB RAM. That processor speed and memory is what allows it to handle the server tasks that it does without bogging down transfer speeds. It’s also what allows it to handle cloud duties for remotely accessing your files using the ReadyCloud software. The ReadyNAS 200 series also has 5 layers of file protection, including “bit rot” protection and point in time recovery with snapshots (much like Apple’s Time Machine). You can also selectively sync folders with a computer for backup and recovery of specific files or data.
Like the RN204 before it, setup of the ReadyNAS RN214 was effortless. Our hard drives cam pre-loaded, but we explored the ease with which they can be hot-swapped and replaced. The basic setup process is really just plugging it in and following the instructions. The ReadyNAS will be automatically located on your network, so logging into the admin interface is quite simple once your wired up. The ReadyCloud and ReadyNAS app infrastructure seems to be always growing, and there are well over 100 apps that extend the usefulness of the Netgear ReadyNAS 210 Series. These apps are what take the ReadyNAS products way beyond the capability of a simple hard drive array or removable storage device. The two-line LED display is also helpful, giving you not only feedback on the status of the device, but aiding in setup and drive maintenance and formatting as well.
Real-time 1080p Transcoding with the ReadyNAS RN214
The Netgear ReadyNAS lets you stream home movies, TV shows, and more on your smartphone, tablet, or laptop. It literally lets you play 1080p movies in real-time without buffering or stuttering by integrating the Plex media server software (app) and using that system for remotely accessing that content. This real-time 1080p transcoding of content is what really sets the ReadyNAS product apart from the competition.
You set up Plex by signing into your ReadyCloud account, and going to the Admin area to install the Plex app. Then, you launch the Plex app and create an account (or just log in if you already have a Plex account). Adding our media was easy, and there are endless videos teaching you how to do this (no need to go into it here).
To enable remote access of your Plex media, you have to select the Settings icon in Plex, select Server, and ensure Remote Access is enabled and accessible. You can use the streaming settings to set mobile quality for mobile settings (480p is preferred for smart phones). If your source content is rated at 8-10 bits/sec at 24p, then real-time transcoding to 480p for movies should be flawless.
Because the ReadyNAS RN214 transcodes your media on-the-fly in real-time, you can now stream movies stored on your home ReadyNAS while you’re away from home and on a completely different network—including 4G cellular-based data networks.
The ReadyNAS RN214 is priced just under $500 (without drives) and you can get it configured with anything from 4TB to 12TB (or more). For that price you get a very robust, redundant, media server that can hold all of your songs, movies, and more—and serve them up to you whether you’re in another room…or another state!