Looking for easy to use NAS Hard Drive

in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
I currently use a Hard Drive plugged into my Airport Extreme Base Station. Unfortunately it's just so slow and has a lot of reliablility problems. I was hoping with time updates would improve this. Now I've decided to get another hard drive that would be a NAS Hard Drive that I can plug directly onto my Home Network via Ethernet. I would prefer one still that has Firewire and/or USB so I have other connection options if my needs change.

My questions:

1. I'm still new to the Mac and especially when it comes to networking. I like how with the AEBS Hard Drive when it works it automatically shows up on my Mac like a hard drive volume. There is no need to log onto it when I use my Mac or anything. Will it be as easy with a NAS?

2. I've heard something about SMB Server and how any hard drive that's a NAS will be like this. Does this mean I do have to log on to use it and it won't be as easy?

3. I hear a lot about how I have to have one formatted as HFS+. Do all NAS drives do this or do you have to have one with that option?

4. Also, I hear the big thing to look for is one that has AFP. I know it's some type of Apple protocol. If so, would that make it easier to use and operate more like a AEBS Airdisk?

5. Lastly, assuming it's best to go with one that is HFS+/AFP I know there are few on the market. What are some good brands/models to look for?

Thanks for any help with the above questions.
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