QNAP Turbo Station TS-201 (Hardware)
Sean W. Gibson / Dec 6th, 2009 No Comments
The QNAP Turbo Station TS-201 will make your computing life easier, more organized, and overall – better.
If your home is anything like the one that I personally have, then you have multiple computer with multiple users. Files are everywhere on separate machines and getting a central location to store all your music, pictures, and documents is like a nirvana never to be found. File organization is something that is going to become standard in small offices and households from now on in the world of computing. File sizes for digital cameras are now typically 4 to 10 MB each, and your average MP3 (or iTunes) files is about the same size. With the average computer user storing hundreds if not thousands of these files each – there are two needs to be satisfied. First is the aforementioned need to keep files organized in a standard place so all users can easily access what they want. Second is a simple matter of space – chances are you don’t want to buy two or three more hard drives to free up space to distribute amongst all your systems.
Enter the QNAP Turbo Station TS-201, a network storage device that auto-configures itself once plugged in to your local area network via the Ethernet port. Armed with a gigabit interface, the TS-201 allows for up to 1.5 Terabytes of information via 2 SATA hard drives being installed into the system.
The specs of the drive are fairly impressive and have exactly what you want in a storage device – plenty of upgrade space, fast Ethernet port, RAID available, SATA drive bays, and it looks hot too.
HDD: 2 x 3.5” SATA I/II, supports hot swap and up to 1.5TB
LAN: 1 Gigabit RJ-45 Ethernet Port
LED: Power, USB, Status, LAN, Hard Disk
USB : 3 USB 2.0 Ports
Buttons: Auto-Copy, Power, Reset
Dimensions: 214mm (D) x 175mm (W) x 115mm (H)
Thermal: Silent Fan Cast
The keys here are the fact that it supports SATA I or II (get II for improved support, speed, and performance), has the gigabit LAN port, and also has 3 USB 2.0 ports.
Below are the software specs of the device. A full list can be found on the QNAP Systems website.
OS: Linux Embedded
Transfer Protocols: TCP/IP, Apple Talk
Network Protocols: Microsoft® networks (CIFS/Samba), Apple® (AFP), Internet (HTTP), Secure internet (HTTPS), File Transfer Protocol (FTP, max suggested 16 concurrent connections)
Supported OS: Windows 98, ME, NT, 2000, XP, 2003, Vista, MAC 0S9, OSX
Installing the unit is a fairly painless and easy process. First, find a hard drive to install into the TS-201. It’s suggest that you purchase an SATA II hard drive, and one that has enough space so you feel comfortable it’ll be a while before you buy the 2nd drive to install into the device. The speed of the drive (between an SATA I and II) is actually somewhat irrelevant considering theoretical speeds between the device and the hard drive (explained more below in the ‘Performance’ section of the review). Personally, I went with a 500GB Drive so I could archive my music (about 15GB), my pictures (about 50GB), and my movie editing files (about 200GB). That left me with about half the drive left for the future, something that I was very comfortable with.
Installing the hard drive is a matter of first making sure the hard drive is formatted (this might require you to install it first into your PC, run a format, and then remove it from your PC). Once the drive is formatted, pop it into the appropriate first drive bay into the TS-201, close it up, and turn it on. Using a D-Link router, the device attached itself to the network. Using the software that came with the TS-201 is recommended for those of you unfamiliar with networking within a Windows of Mac OSX environment. It’ll auto-find the device and mount it so that you always see it when you boot up. Otherwise you can use your network neighborhood manager to find the device and access it from there. That’s it – a fairly painless and easy experience for average PC users.
The performance of the QNAP TS-201 network storage device is impressive to say the least. Although almost any storage device will never fulfill the theoretical transfer speed, the device transfers fairly quickly. For example, the speed of gigabit Ethernet is around 128MB/s, compared to the 300MB/s power of SATA II hard drives. In “actual real world” environments, a RAID system can probably sustain 80-100MB/s – far different that what “speed burst” reports would have you believe. Anyways – getting back to the TS-201, the device performs right where it should be considering the hardware installed. Unfortunately we couldn’t find a reliable testing software solution to report back, but we have hammered the device transferring 8GB DVD files back and forth via the gigabit LAN from a computer and the NAS device. The 8GB would transfer over in about 20 minutes on average, which seems somewhat consistent with the theory mentioned above.
More importantly though outside of theoretical speed capacities is the overall dependability of the product. We’ve just *hammered* this thing consistently for 2 months. It wouldn’t seem right releasing the review before a 2 month period endorsing a product that would contain ALL your essential and probably irreplaceable files. Nevertheless, at this point, we can say we’ve had exactly ZERO problems the entire time we’ve been testing the product. It’s very impressive to say that from our end – usually we’re able to break something in the first week!
PRICE FOR PERFORMANCE
There has also been a new release of the firmware that adds in a couple of features worth noting. First is that it installs QGet, a window based remote P2P download management software. It also installs “Download Station” which supports FTP and HTTP downloading files from FTP or HTTP services independent of the PC. Finally, perhaps the most interesting new feature is the installation of the iTunes Server, which can share all the MP3/iTunes files inside the “Qmultimedia” folder of the TS-201 to be shared within iTunes. That means that all the computers on the LAN will be able to find and play the music files from iTunes.
If you’re looking for a good NAS device with adequate speed and has the ability to hold a very impressive 1.5 Terabytes, then the TS-201 device should definitely be on your list of products to look at when shopping. Right now (March 2007) it’s going for around $350 on NewEgg, which seems to be a fairly cost competitive price point in comparison to other products on the market. If you’re looking to really increase speed, the TS-401T might be the one to look at, although we have not and cannot confirm reports of faster speed times. However, we can say with absolute surety that the QNAP TS-201 is a very impressive product and one that has made our computing lives a whole lot better. It’s be extremely reliable, offered decent transfer speeds, and was very easy to install.
tags: qnap , review