The Netgear Storage Central Turbo SC101T is a rather curious entry into the network storage market. Utilising SoIP technology, the device appears in your My Computer window as a regular external hard drive (as opposed to a 'mapped' hard drive over your network connection). While this makes for an easier set-up process and eliminates the need for complex security measures, it also means you can't run applications from it or access the Internet. As such, the SC101T is really only suitable for people who require a single storage space for multiple PCs.
The Netgear Storage Central Turbo SC101T comes equipped with two 3.5in HDD bays which will accommodate any Serial ATA drive on the market. (These will need to be purchased separately, however.) While this brings down the overall price of the product (especially if you have a spare HDD handy) and allows you to choose a hard drive of any capacity, it also means you'll need to install them yourself. Thankfully, this is a very straightforward procedure, with the removable front panel offering easy access to both bays (to insert a hard disk, all you need to do is slide it into one of the slots until it clicks into place). Removing the drives is equally simple, with a pair of rear-mounted latches causing the drives to pop out within easy reach of your fingers.
Connecting the device to your network is also uncomplicated. Once the SC101T finishes its installation, Windows will automatically detect the drive (via your router) and assign it a drive letter. As mentioned, Windows displays the device as just another hard drive, so you can start dragging and dropping files immediately. Naturally, you will also have to install the SC101T software onto any additional PCs before the device can be shared across your network. (One small caveat: the packaged software is only compatible with Windows XP and Windows 2000. Vista users will therefore be required to download additional drivers.)
If the installation process is anything to go by, it would seem that Netgear wants the device to be as user-friendly as possible. However, several quirks in the Storage Central Management utility have unfortunately compromised its accessibility. For instance, changing the configuration of your hard drives (from single partition to mirrored/RAID 1), involved several unnecessary steps which could have easily been automated by the software. The included wizard tool did little to simplify matters, merely offering a line of explanatory text beneath each option. Plus, setting up the drives involves creating separate IP partitions (each drive receives its own IP address), which can make it difficult to identify one drive from another. This has rendered the SC101T needlessly intimidating for novice users. It's a shame really, as a few tweaks to the software could have easily eliminated this problem.
In terms of design, the Netgear Storage Central Turbo SC101T is definitely a winner. While the Mac-inspired aesthetic (i.e. white and simple) might be considered dated by some, it nevertheless remains a very attractive device. The inbuilt fan is relatively quiet, while its boxy design and cooling grills will ensure your components rarely overheat. All up, this is a fairly niche product that will nevertheless provide ample networked storage for those who require it.