Review: QNAP NAS meets XBMC media center
QNAP's TS-669L can store all your content and play it directly to your TV, though HD playback could be smootherFollow @pvenezia
It's not often that you run across a device that is not only certified for VMware virtualization use, but can also play back HD content through an HDMI port to a television. QNAP's TS-669L can do exactly that -- and more.
QNAP has a history of building small, capable NAS appliances for home and small-office use. Built on a Linux base and housing anywhere from two to eight disks, these devices make it easy to reliably store large amounts of data for smaller workloads. While they do not have enterprise-level redundancy, they are stable little systems that can house immense capacities thanks to 4TB disks. The six-drive TS-669L ($780 to $850 street price without disks) is no exception, as it's built along the same lines as QNAP's other cabinet NAS offerings.
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The difference is the HDMI port and the XBMC media center app, which bring the TS-669L into a completely different field: the all-in-one home data and media solution. Though I tested the TS-669L, it should be noted that HDMI and XBMC are also offered in QNAP's two-drive TS-269L and eight-drive TS-869L models.
Business NAS, home NAS
The TS-669L runs the same management and media software as its brethren. It offers a plethora of network file-sharing services, from traditional SMB, NFS, and AFP file serving to more esoteric services like FTP, HTTP, and rsync. It can link up to LDAP and Microsoft Active Directory domains for authentication and authorization, or it can manage security through local user accounts. It also offers SNMP support for monitoring and traps, and the management interface has a single button to download the appropriate MIBs to manage the device, which couldn't be simpler.
You can also use the TS-669L as an iSCSI target, encrypt the file systems, configure NAS-to-NAS or rsync-based backups, or back up to the cloud via built-in support for Amazon S3, ElephantDrive, and Symform. There are also options for RTRR (Real-Time Remote Replication).
A boatload of applications and services are included, from MySQL to RADIUS, syslog, antivirus, and VPN services using OpenVPN. The TS-669L can serve TFTP and LDAP. These are services that are unlikely to be utilized in a home environment unless you're an ubergeek, but they cover a wide range of potential uses.
The TS-669L offers several useful tools for home or business, such as a Web file manager; a photo and video management app; a music management app; a download app that supports BitTorrent, FTP, and HTTP downloads; and software for surveillance cameras, so you can use cheaper network-connected home and office cameras that record video directly to the device. For Mac backups, there is support for Apple Time Machine. For Windows backups, QNAP includes its own NetBak Replicator 4 software.
All the management and media apps are available through the Web interface on the local network. In addition, QNAP allows for anywhere access via the QNAP MyCloudNAS cloud service, which maintains a connection to your NAS and serves as a proxy to your applications and content. As a result, when outside your local network, you can still access all your data, as well as manage the device, even through firewalls and NAT. This is all fully configurable, and it's secured using your local account settings.