If you want a network storage device that you can leave in the living room to wow your guests, the LaCie 5big Network 2 would be it. From the front it doesn't look much like a storage device; it looks more like a mysterious item pulled straight out of a sci-fi movie or a piece of art that you're not really supposed to understand.
From the back, however, it's a dead-serious storage device with five hard-drive bays, a bunch of peripheral ports, and two Gigabit Ethernet ports. The 5big Network 2 is LaCie's high-end NAS server that can house up to five SATA hard drives of any capacity. In fact, it's the first from the company that can host hard drives of different capacities, thanks to its new Auto RAID configuration that was introduced a while back via the NAS OS 2.0.
This new RAID configuration also makes it possible to upgrade the device's capacity without having to rebuild the RAID from scratch, a great feature for those who want to start with just 5TB for around $750 and add more storage later. The server also comes with a robust and simple Web interface that makes the upgrade, as well as managing the server's short list of features, an easy job, even for a novice. And it may be mostly home users who would want to use the 5big, as in our trials we found it lacked common business features, such as support for Active Directory in Windows Server 2008 or SQL Server.
However, the main reason business users should probably keep looking is the server's performance. It's by no mean slow, but compared with its peers it could still use a big improvement in throughput speed. While the LaCie 5big Network 2 is definitely fast enough for its target users--home users who want to back up and stream digital content--if you want to get the most out of a NAS server, you should also check out other RAID 5-capable NAS servers, such as the Synology DS1511+ or the Netgear ReadyNAS Ultra4.