HomeMacityDigital PhotoThe new QNAP HS-264 NAS is small, quiet and designed to occupy that empty space left by VCRs of several years ago, space only partially occupied by the various Apple TVs or other devices of the kind.
We tried it for a few weeks, with a hint of nostalgia for the times when videotapes were rented at the (deceased) Blockbuster: now everything is simpler, more modern and you can do a thousand other things more, which is interesting to discover.
From VHS to streaming
In practice, a triple somersault, the ideal one from the VHS format, analogue and often amateur, to that of pure streaming, at high resolution and with a thousand additional services in tow, but it is a leap to which the QNAP HS-264 does not hold back. , rather.
That this is not the first test of QNAP in this sense, because here we talked about the QNAP HS 251 several years ago, but at the time the times were not yet ripe as now and the services few and essential, compared to the wealth available today.
Among all, especially the presence of Plex, a third-party service that goes very well with this NAS, together with the various QNAP proprietary services for hybrid cloud, photos, home backup and many other things.
A somewhat original form factor but which aligns well with the living room
The QNAP HS-264 is a small parallelepiped measuring just 41.3 × 302 × 220mm, a low and slim shape suitable for holding two discs in a horizontal position, contrary to the NAS fashion that sees devices that accommodate vertical slides.
But here the intent is to go under the TV and the shape was necessarily one and only one: inside, there is space for two 3.5 “or 2.5” SATA disks, whether mechanical or solid state, even if considered the context, in the humble opinion of the writer, SSDs are the only ones able to guarantee the speed and silence (above all) that a device like this requires.
The weight, if it is relevant, is 1.56 kg from empty, which grows by about 1 kg with two mechanical discs and the operating range requires a temperature from 0 to 40 ° C, let's say that in a living room perspective it is not there will be problems.
Connectivity is given by two 2.5 Gbit Ethernet ports, two HDMI ports (with range up to 4K at 60 Hz) for direct connection to the TV, 8 GB of RAM and 4 Gb of Flash memory for secure boot, a really generous amount for a home NAS.
The heart is an Intel Celeron N5105 4-core / 4-thread processor, with speeds up to 2.9 GHz, a mid-range computing unit perfectly aligned with the characteristics of the NAS and which probably balances power and temperature correctly (also because the TV, the temperature cannot rise that much to avoid damaging the top panel.
The front writing in the detachable panel that hides the two main slides The contents of the package In the back, the two Ethernet, USB and HDMI ports pull out “backwards” after removing the magnetic front cover A look inside SSDs in test, hooking up
Once arrived, we proceeded to install the two 256 GB Kingston SSD memories, using the removable slides and a few screws (included in the package).
Then we proceeded to start the NAS, which started the initial semi-automatic setup where it accompanies the user in the various phases of installation of the operating system (in our case in version 5.0), choosing the right RAID option even if, being only a two Bay, the options are RAID 1 (more security, but halves the space) and RAID 0 (total space and even more speed, but zero security).
Here the choice is made by the user based on the size of the SSDs purchased and the need for space for all the media he wants to allocate in the NAS, even if you want, you can take advantage of the USB-A ports on the back for an external backup drive. (in this case, RAID 0 is used without problems).
The QNAP HS-264 can operate as a pure NAS, perhaps associated with another Device for media playback (from a computer to a tablet or smartphone) or with an Apple TV or Smart TV for living room playback, but also as player, since the two 4K HDMI ports can go directly to the TV (and therefore operate even where there is no network, for example in the house in the mountains or by the sea, where usually only 4G is used).
After a few minutes, we arrive at the main page of the NAS, where the first App
MediaCenter 2.0 stop or classic NAS?
QNAP HS-264 has a double soul, a bit for the software features and a bit for the form: if used as a traditional NAS, it works correctly, even if it doesn't have the power of its big brothers, it still has the same operating system. and access to all apps.
The QNAP App store is rich and there are interesting solutions: it can be used as a backup unit for the Mac, as a private cloud to manage files even outside your network thanks to the MyQNAP Cloud service, it can manage cameras of surveillance and use virtualization software, has a productivity suite in it and can create a development environment in Ruby.
But, to tell the truth, this is not the ideal operating environment of the QNAP HS-264: those who need operations like these, find models in the QNAP catalog that are much more suitable for the purpose, while we see this NAS as ideal for home operations. , from the backup of the Mac to the management of multimedia tasks.
A screenshot of Plex, here from a browser, which is prepared to make us savor a classic of cinemaThe word MediaCenter, so dear to Microsoft in the early 2000s (but which foresaw hardware and software that would exist years later) today fits perfectly with this QNAP idea.
A device that thanks to proprietary services such as VideoStation, Photo Station and Music Station can manage the three main resources, and serve them on the various Smart TVs or via browser on any device, in order to reproduce everything in a simple way (and thanks to the Apps for smartphone, even upload content automatically).
But despite these, the main App for the use of content remains Plex, a software that remains unique in the market, from videos to photos, passing through music.
The point of this NAS is to collect content from various sources, be it the smartphone (which can upload photos and videos via the mobile App) or the computer (which via the network can upload and organize the various sources in their folders. ) and then let Plex (above all but also the other Apps) create the services to be provided, and a smart TV or an Apple TV can then capture and play comfortably on the TV, in order to enjoy the various contents from the sofa.
And if you have old DVD or Blue Ray discs, just a step with Handbrake, free, to create Mp4 files to then organize (automatically) on Plex for streaming playback.
Within the QNAP operational system there are various services: here Photo Station allows us to relive in total comfort old memories and friends who seem gruff but who actually they are pieces of bread
QNAP HS-264 is certainly not among the most powerful NAS on the market, but it has a very interesting form factor and from a private perspective, it offers a series of really interesting comforts, not least that of being able to stay under the TV.
Perfectly suited to use with Plex for organizing and playing content, both in streaming (local) and directly via HDMI, it offers sensational help to those who love to use their smartphone to masterfully capture different moments of their life, and then wants to organize and play them comfortably from the sofa, without storage problems, because with two SSDs you get to 4TB with still acceptable costs.
The cost of the NAS is medium-high, but takes into account several factors, not least the possibility of placing it under the TV, making it “disappear” in the furniture, in addition to the extreme silence and some technical features not to be underestimated such as the 2 door, 5 Bit and dual HDMI output.
Especially useful at home, it does not disdain to be considered inside a conference room in the office or in a special (private) space, because the remote control of a device like this represents a really important plus, always next to (or better below) ) a TV for media playback.
Just one piece of advice, when choosing a device like this, consider purchasing a solution like Plex Pass, because the software must be at the center of the project for the hardware to take on the role for which it was selected.
Even if the form factor is particular, the QNAP HS264 is always a NAS and as such we can use and control it even remotely: here via App from iPhone
• Quiet (with SSD) • Interesting design • Goes well with Plex • Local or remote use
• Only for private use or in conference rooms • Important cost
• € 694.00 (in package without discs)
• € 47.17 Kingston KC600 256 GB Solid State Drive • € 78.24 Kingston KC600 512 GB Solid State Drive • € 276.16 Kingston KC600 2 TB Solid State Drive
QNAP HS-264 is available starting from the Italian website of the parent company or you can find it more conveniently also at Amazon.it