Although this is the first LaCie NAS I've reviewed, I'm familiar with the company's products. My local Fry's Electronics carries the brand. Once a month I browse the store looking for potential review products and to get an inside retail scoop on product release dates. I always saw the LaCie products as elegant and a bit famine; unlike the brute force QNAP and Thecus units that I have so many of in the office. After spending time with the 5big NAS Pro, I have a much better understanding of the LaCie product line, the 5big NAS Pro is like a supermodel NAS, with a sword.
With the drive bays and the wire connections all placed on the backside of the NAS, the front is free of what we associate with NAS appliances. Looking at the unit straight on, the large blue sphere doesn't look like a button, although it is. Until you turn the NAS around, the unit looks like decorative filler that one might place on a bookshelf. Of course, this is all by design and a feature LaCie uses in the company's marketing material.
I was able to test the LaCie 5big NAS Pro before and after the performance update that hits LaCie's website today. To be honest, I was impressed with the pre-update performance, but after seeing the larger write performance increase in RAID 5, it's easy to see why LaCie is so excited about it.
The new firmware offers more than just a performance increase, though. Improvements made to cloud functionality and new professional features taken straight from enterprise NAS servers increase the 5big NAS Pro's capabilities.