My comments on this topic
We are increasingly using our computers to build digital media libraries, whether through taking digital pictures and movies with our digital cameras and digital handycams, copying media that exists in packaged form to the hard disks of our computers or downloading material from various Web sites.
This is definitely leading to us running out of hard-disk space on our computers. The typical home network will end up with an aggregate collection media files in the many gigabytes or even terabytes across all of the machines.
The network-attached storage systems that are on the market are being sold primarily on capacity, the disk arrangement being used and, in the case of multi-disk units, what RAID level they support.
When I check out any NAS box, even units that are for small-business use, I look for units that use UPnP AV MediaServer / DLNA functionality. This function allows them to be effective in searching media files and presenting them to digital media playback devices that conform to UPnP AV / DLNA specifications. An improvement that I would like to see for NAS-based UPnP media front-ends would be to support all “in-file” metadata systems like ID3, and EXIF (including Windwos Live Photo Gallery’s tags).
If you have a network with many Apple-controlled front-ends, the Apple-controlled front-ends will be primarily running iTunes and an iTunes / “daap”-compatible media front end can provide access to the media files from iTunes.
Software manufacturers could work on ways to differentiate media-handling abilities amongst the network-attached storage devices that they offer for home and small-business use.
A feature that could definitely be an improvement on this could be software that can aggregate media libraries from different storage locations and present it as a “premises-wide” media directory. This can also include automatic synchronisation of new media between computers and network-attached storage units so that media commonly used is always available at all times.
Other features could include Web-based directories so one can see what is on the NAS using a Web browser for example. This could be a useful implementation of Web 2.0 techniques like AJAX for example.