Exquisite looks, but you pay for them
Many of the top-runners in the NAS world offer similar boxes and software, but QNAP has taken an entirely different physical approach with one of its latest NAS boxes. Its HS-210 TurboNAS looks more like a giant media streamer than a NAS box, but inside there’s space for two 3.5in or 2.5in hard disks or SSDs sitting side by side.
It’s a stunning-looking device with a high-quality plastic rim, and a brushed aluminium top that acts as a large heatsink. There’s no fan, though, so the only noise will come from any hard disks installed. Plus, as it only offers passive cooling, QNAP rightly recommends that you use low-power hard drives such as Western Digital’s Caviar Green or Red disks.
The specification has been cut down to keep heat to a minimum, though, with just 512MB RAM and a lowly single-core 1.6GHz Marvell Armada 6282 CPU, while the competition nearly all sport more RAM and dual- core CPUs. However, the HS-210 does at least have two USB 3 and two USB 2 ports, as well as an SD card slot and support for USB TV tuners and Wi-Fi dongles.
The HS-210 requires you to download the latest operating system, and use its Qfinder software to install the OS and then log into the NAS. It takes around 20 minutes from start to finish, and you’re then presented with a very slick-looking desktop, sporting a dozen icons and various widgets, with quick links to features such as QNAP’s mobile and standard app stores.
Here, you can access the usual music, video, photo and BitTorrent- capable download apps, which enable you to access, play or view your content within a browser, and QNAP’s Dropbox-style Cloud Storage system makes it very easy to access your files from any PC, and to sync your devices too. Meanwhile, its accompanying iOS and Android mobile apps enable you to stream music and videos on the move, and you can even use your smartphone as a remote control for QNAP’s XMBC plug-in.
Sadly, file transfer speeds weren’t up to much, though, with our torturous small file tests dipping to 10MB/sec when writing and 16MB/sec when reading. Meanwhile, our large video file test maxed out with read and write speeds of 43MB/sec and 25MB/sec – acceptable but not exactly quick. As a point of comparison, the Synology DS213j managed to read and write large files at 96MB/sec and 45MB/sec respectively. Thankfully, the HS-210 has no problems streaming HD video and writing files at the same time, however.
Conclusion The HS-210 is brimming with features and, other than hard disk noise, it’s also silent. It’s also more likely to fit into slim TV cabinets, and won’t look out of place next to set-top boxes and audio hardware.
It isn’t quick, though, and you’re paying a premium for the sleek design and lack of noise. This is an ideal box for streaming video to your TV, but for anything more demanding, cheaper NAS boxes such as the Synology DS213j offer similar features and much faster performance.