Home Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices are at last becoming sleek enough for people to want to use in their home.

Netgear has worked wonders with this tidy-looking 500GB device, which can be expanded to 1TB. Simply connect the drive to your network and run the setup disc: soon you'll have all the network storage you want, including the ability to perform downloads remotely.

The ReadyNAS Duo has been optimised for BitTorrent peer-to-peer downloads and comes with its own built-in client, supporting uPnP, enabling you to schedule downloads using a browser window. This is straightforward and you can manage either DCHP or static IPs here.

Widespread compatibility

The ReadyNAS has also been designed to directly serve media, with your PC, to devices such as the Netgear EVA8000 streamer, Sonos Digital Music System, Logitech Squeezebox, Apple iTunes clients, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Other players may work, but it's always best to stick with those that are certified.

The ReadyNAS Duo also comes with Netgear's own RAIDar utility, which detects the unit on the network and offers quick access to the Web interface that you'll need to use. Despite no bells and whistles for the interface (atypical of Netgear products), it functions well and remains speedy throughout.

The Web interface offers a quick-start wizard that takes you through the setting up of shares and any needed workgroup memberships.

Compact networking

The ReadyNAS is a tiny beauty, taking up less space than most external hard disks that feature just one drive.

The handy swing door at the front exposes both drive bays and out of the box there's one free bay for you to add another SATA unit. Netgear's X-RAID technology can be used to create a mirrored array.

As well as the Ethernet port at the back there's two USB2 ports and one at the front for ease of access, which ties in well with the one-touch backup option.