Promise Technology has been quietly making a name for itself as a major player in the storage space, producing a number of RAID and NAS solutions for all types of needs. The SmartStor NS4700 is the company's four-bay, performance-oriented NAS. The NS4700 ships without hard drives, but in our testing we used four 2TB Seagate Barracuda Green drives. Other items included in the box are an Ethernet cable, a standard computer power cord, a quick-start guide, a documentation/software CD, and screws for mounting your hard drives. The software CD includes a copy of Acronis Backup and Recovery NAS Edition, which is limited for use with Promise NAS devices.
In a world of plain black boxes, the NS4700's two-tone aesthetic seems downright daring.
The SmartStor NS4700 sports a dual-core Atom D525 processor running at 1.8GHz and 1GB of DDR2 RAM. Five USB 2.0 ports (one on the front) allow you to add USB hard drives to easily move large amounts of data to and from the NAS or to function as a backup medium, but there is no USB 3.0 or eSATA. Dual Gigabit Ethernet ports are automatically configured for load balancing, but this can be reconfigured easily in the browser-based management console.
From a hardware standpoint, the NS4700 looks very clean. The drives are accessible from the front of the device and are housed within four horizontally oriented drive trays. The trays themselves feature a sliding lock that prevents accidental removal but not unauthorized access. The LCD panel on the front along with the associated select and enter buttons, allows for some minor configuration and information gathering.
For the most part, configuring the NS4700 is done through a browser-based UI. The interface itself is clean and features an impressive dashboard, allowing you to monitor various aspects of the hardware. Actually configuring things like shares and permissions isn't as intuitive as we'd like, but that's not something you will be doing on a regular basis, either. Promise includes support for the DLNA Digital Media Server role, and the NS4700 also functions as an iTunes media server. Both protocols make your media library accessible to a wide range of client devices.