Let's take a break from looking at predominantly rack mounted NAS gear and let's have a look at the latest QNAP desktop offering.
Having reviewed the top-of-the-line QNAP Network Attached Storage system last year, the TS-EC879U-RP, our expectations are high.
QNAP sent us the TS-469L Turbo NAS, a 4-bay improved model of the trusted 469 series.
This is what became evident after some weeks of testing: the Q in QNAP stands for Quality and Quiet.
Unpacking the TS-469L
First impressions are important. Even though the basic model hasn't changed over the years (we have owned some of its predecessors) this particular model oozes quality: a perfect blend of unobtrusiveness and a "hey, look at me!" stance. A nice detail is that the coppery metal matches the look of my Samsung Chronos series 7 laptop. The front of the machine with its black facia contains the four easy to pull out hard drive bays below the usual LED indicators. On the left a power button and a USB port for direct copying. Need more USB ports? The back has six more, two of them USB 3.0.
There are also two eSata ports, two LAN ports, VGA and HDMI. There is also supposed to be a fan on this side but I couldn't hear it.... Did I mention this smart fan is quiet? It certainly adds to the unobtrusiveness which is needed in an office environment, more so than in a server room.
So, in short the 469L key features are Dual-core Intel Atom 2.13 GHz Processor, 1GB DDR3 RAM (expandable to 3GB), 2X Gigabit LAN ports, support SATA HDD/ SSD, hard drives hot-swappable, 2x USB 3.0 ports.
Installation and Why I Was Seeing Red...
We also were sent the latest RED drives from Western Digital. These are specifically made for NAS use in home and SMB environments. Normally we do not give any thought to the usage of the hard drives we purchase but go with the highest capacity and the lowest price. These RED drives (okay, it's just the label that is red) are very energy efficient and pretty reliable with a 35% MTBF improvement over standard desktop drives. Another issue with standard HDD's can be compatibility with NAS units and RAID configurations. No wonder QNAP recommends these types of drives in their systems. By the way, they come in 1TB, 2TB and 3TB capacities and are priced AU$95, $155 and $210, respectively. Interesting note: they have 64MB of RAM on-board...
Our latest review of the DS1812+ by Synology also featured the RED drives. See Paul Moons' comments on these drives here.
We only got 2 1TB units which didn't give us much room to play with all the RAID configurations and we mucked up the installation a bit by adding a Hitachi drive that had the needed capacity. But it is good to see that there are no issues resulting from that and everybody played nice.... The only slight issue we found is that the number three bay slot is very tight and we almost had to force the drive in.
Getting a NAS unit up and running is very easy these days: seven quick steps get you through the basic installation process. As usual, even with new machines it's best to check for any firmware updates. In this case the latest version (3.8.0) added some nifty new features as listed below.
New Features in Version 3.8.0
- Home portal with unified login
- Privilege control for local user accounts:
- Network services: CIFS, AFP, FTP, WebDAV
- Applications: Music Station, Photo Station, Multimedia Station, and Web File Manager
- Music Station 3 with library support and Internet radio
- Video Station for web-based video broadcasting (QPKG)
- TV Station with DVB-T digital TV playback & recording (QPKG); compatible USB DVB-T tuner is required.
- Download Station with BT search, HTTPs download support, speed schedule, and per-task save folder
- Compatible only with QGet v3.0 or higher
- Surveillance Station Pro with 1 free license by default (QPKG)
- Proxy client settings for firmware live update, virus definition update, and QPKG Center
- Windows 8 compatible
It's critical these days to have mobile applications fully integrated with the operating software of NAS units. QNAP has the following three apps: Qmanager, Qfile and Qmobile. These are fairly simple and elegant apps to see how your unit is doing, to interact with it on a basic level and to access any files that reside on the NAS.
We found all of these apps to work well but if you read the forums there is still a lot of improvements that can be made. Personally, I would want to see these three apps merging into one.
Well, I had trouble adding a New User.
Nothing I tried could coax the software to do this simple task.
And then it dawned on me: is it because I'm using Firefox as my preferred browser?
Indeed it was and after I switched to IE all was well again...
Not a big deal perhaps, but it tripped me up to the point of frustration so I would strongly suggest full Firefox compatibility for the next software release! (Note: perhaps it is certain add-ons on Firefox that caused the mayhem as on another test system Firefox was able to fully use the QNAP menu...)
With this feature, you can install XBMC (http://xbmc.org/) and connect to TV via HDMI so it means QNAP NAS can be also seen as one HD media player. This feature is only to be found on the new TS-X69L series, of which the 469 under review is a member.
So this is another feature that makes this boxy unit attractive for a wider group of XBMC devotees.
Personally, I'm more interested in the core aspects of this being a value-for-money, reliable and quiet NAS unit rather than a magic box full of tricks and treasures...
But: it's there if you want it!
Most of the testing we did involved the wireless transfer of data from three different laptops and being able to access them via the mobile apps.
Keeping it short and to the point: The QNAP TS-469L Turbo NAS is an evolution on a range of units that have proven themselves over many years. It works as advertised. It has more features than you'll ever use and it is guaranteed to serve you well for a long time. And it will do this in peace and quiet (no loud noise, no bright LEDs!).
We can recommend this unit highly, having scored an 8 out of 10.
RRP price $799 (AUD) although I have seen it priced higher online!
bluechipit.com.au is the importer in Australia