With data such as documents, ebooks, music or videos spilling into multiple storage drives and locations around your home or office, a centralised storage becomes an absolute necessity. Opting for a higher capacity drive upgrade might be the answer to some of the problems, but spending for a NAS or a Network Attached Storage is the best alternative. Spending for a NAS at home might be considered foolish by many, but QNAP has just the reason why you might just want to change your statement and opt for one of these just below your high-definition television set. Yes, you guessed right, the NAS now has a built-in HD media player and we have the TS-269L for a review in our labs. Read ahead to find out more about it.

QNAP TS-269L 2-bay NAS with built-in Full HD media player

QNAP TS-269L 2-bay NAS with built-in full HD media player

Design and build quality

Unlike other manufacturers, QNAP is the only one around to offer a similar look for all individual series—be it a 2-bay or a 6-bay, they all look alike and the design definitely sports good looks. The TS-269L is a two bay NAS and looks like a small toaster. Measuring just 150 mm in height and 1.75 kg in weight, it is one of the smallest two-bay NAS available out there. The entire shell is built of a metal chassis similar to PC cases that have a rugged metal frame and a covering with a plastic bezel in the front. The two-bay NAS makes do with just status LEDs in the front while the higher-end ones are available with an LCD display. The front panel has four status LEDs, one each for HDD1, HDD2, LAN and eSATA, and two backlit buttons, one each for power and one-touch copy and a USB 2.0 port.. Apart from the completely basic control panel, there are two hard drive bays that can be pulled out for easy hard drive installation. The drive bays are perforated for effective cooling of the internal hard drives. the rear panel sports all the physical connections needed—the USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports (two each) an eSATA port, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, an HDMI interface and a power jack. Also available is a Kensington lock provision and a 7 cm exhaust fan. The entire case has a metallic brush-finished exterior with a matte-finished bezel. The chassis is built tough and meant for easy cleaning and easy heat dissipation. 

Strong PC case-like chassis, all interfaces on the rear

Strong PC case-like chassis, all interfaces on the rear

Features

The QNAP TS-269L is a 2-bay storage system, which is an all-in-one NAS server. It meets the storage requirements of most small to medium business environments and features a secure cross-platform file sharing for Windows, Mac and Linux/UNIX users. It also features iSCSI and IP-SAN storage combo solution for versatile business applications. The QNAP TS-269L is very feature-rich compared to any other NAS available out there. Since the 269L is a two-bay NAS, it can support single drive, RAID 0, RAID 1 and JBOD combinations while the higher ones can support all RAID possibilities accordingly. Implementing a NAS on a regular Windows-based or Linux-based PC with multiple hard drives might sound like a cheaper alternative, but deploying a NAS is definitely cheaper and easier compared to the PC alternatives. Read on to find out the entire feature-set of the 269L.

Tower form-factor, but as small as a mini toaster

Tower form-factor, but as small as a mini toaster

The QNAP TS-269L is powered by an Intel 1.8GHz dual-core processor along with 1GB of RAM, which is expandable up to 3 GB. The operating system is run through a 512MB DOM and the storage bays are available for a maximum of two 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch SATA SSD or HDD drives. Each bay can support up to 4TB hard drives, which makes this NAS capable of a storage capacity of up to 8TB in RAID 0 or JBOD options. The two hard drive bays have hot-swappable trays, which means you can add or replace hard drives even when the NAS is powered on and operating in full operation mode. The NAS uses just 1 Watt of power when in power-off mode while using only 16 Watts and 25 Watts of energy in sleep and full power modes respectively with two 1TB hard drives installed. Now try to match this with a regular PC serving as a NAS on your network. 

PC Utility disk provided with the product

PC Utility disk provided with the product

The NAS features the entire operating system and all the applications embedded on a single DOM or Disk On Module. QNAP deploys the same TurboNAS firmware for all models, which supports all applications and features such as services and add-ons. The present firmware is version TurboNAS 3.8.1 and is free from most bugs. The modules supported by the 269L are Windows Active Directory and LDAP Directory service, Shared Folder Aggregation, ISO file archiving and sharing, Windows ACL, Advanced Folder permissions, Real-time remote replication, iSCSI LUN backup, Cloud Backup, external USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 backup support, IP camera Surveillance support, servers such as file server, FTP server, SAMBA server, Web Server, Radius server, Syslog Server, Media server, Printer server, iPV6 support, VPN server, DHCP server and Proxy Server.

Easy setup wizard for initial installation

Easy setup wizard for initial installation

The 269L supports a plethora of services built into one small unit enabling you to access your data from a single source from the local network or over the Internet. Remote replication of multiple NAS devices are also a possibility with two or more QNAP NAS systems deployed at various locations to synchronise your data for additional safety. As mentioned earlier, the NAS supports RAID 0 and RAID 1, which makes data speed and security possible over a hardware level. If you are using RAID 1, you can upgrade your storage safely and much faster by simply hot-swapping your hard drives with a larger capacity drive, one at a time.  Additionally, the drives and the data within can be easily migrated to a larger QNAP NAS by simply removing the hard drive from the lower model and placing them on the higher ones— and your data is safe.  

Administration page for complete control and settings of the NAS

Administration page for complete control and settings of the NAS

The rear panel supports two Ethernet ports that can be configured in failover mode as well as for load balancing. It can also be used for Multi-IP modes where PCs from two different networks or subnets can access the same NAS. Using these features, you can assure that your NAS is accessible from anywhere and with additional speeds. 

Here is the best part and the highlight of the QNAP TS-X69 series—the rear panel sports an HDMI port using which one can connect a large LCD display or TV and watch high-definition movies directly from the NAS’ storage. All one needs to get this working is an update of the HD Station QPKG from the administration panel, connect the NAS to the HDMI interface of the display and you are ready to use the media player section instantly. You can make use of the mouse or keyboard to move around the menu interface or alternatively purchase the optional QNAP IR remote (priced at Rs 1,700). The IR receiver is embedded inside the NAS itself. The HD station also features the Chrome Browser and YouTube using which you can browse the Internet or watch YouTube videos on your large screen TV.

Note: The media player feature is available only with the firmware version 3.8.1 and above and only on the X69 series models. 

Setup storage drives and Volumes using RAID and JBOD

Set up storage drives and Volumes using RAID and JBOD

The USB 2.0  ports on the rear and front can be used for connecting input devices such as keyboard or mice and also IO devices such as wireless interfaces for WI-Fi access to a router. The USB 3.0 ports can be used for transferring data to and from (sync or backup) external USB 3.0 hard drives at high speeds to save on time. The eSATA port on the rear panel can help similarly. The front USB 2.0 port is available for quick storage access and along with the one-touch button, one can set up immediate synchronisation/backup/copy of data to and from the NAS. You can also use the USB ports for a much better purpose—attach a compatible USB TV tuner module and you can watch/play/pause live television broadcasts on your attached TV. Optionally, you can also install another USB TV Tuner card and record a channel from one while watching another channel from the other TV Tuner. The USB ports can be set up to used for as a print server or UPS management too. Additional features include scheduled power on/off, Wake on LAN  and hard drive standby modes for power saving.

Install additional packages and modules using QPKG center

Install additional packages and modules using QPKG center

Testing and usage

Using the QNAP NAS, you can host your own web server and FTP server from your home itself. Configure the NAS for a live IP Internet, register a domain name and set up your web server at home. Using this service, you can host and maintain your own private web server from the comfort of your home, saving on huge expenses compared to maintaining a web server at your ISP’s premises. The NAS also has a DLNA/uPNP service that allows you to access and control the NAS from a remote PC or handheld. You can also startup the Internet Twonky Media server and stream your movies and music on the network. Additional services include modules for YouTube (watch as well as download), Video Station (for watching movies on a PC from the browser itself) and iTunes server for music streaming.  

Go to any module by simply clicking the icons

Go to any module by simply clicking the icons

You can also use the NAS to set up a video surveillance at home or office. The 269L can record videos from up to 16 IP cameras simultaneously along with motion detection. All you needs to do is set up your IP cameras on the network and configure the service. You can watch the video feeds from any PC or handheld connected on the network or over the Internet. The NAS also supports a download station which uses HTTP and Bittorrenting services. Simply install the QGet application on the PC and start downloading your torrents or HTTP files on the NAS itself. You can later manage the downloads and files using Qfile and Qmanager from your mobile (Android/iOS) too.

Download Torrents and HTTP files using the Download Station

Download Torrents and HTTP files using the Download Station

The QNAP TS-269L is one of the easiest NAS to install on a local network. The device needs to be set up initially by installing a single or a pair of hard drives. Plug in the hard drive(s), power it on and connect it to a local network using the Ethernet cable. Hit the server’s IP address from any Internet browser (the IP address is set using DHCP by default). The hard drives will be formatted after you implement the RAID levels accordingly. Once formatted, you are ready to set up the other areas and services of the NAS. Setting up the NAs is very easy and takes a maximum of half an hour to get everything you need in place. Once done, the data transfers can be done via the network or simply using USB ports via the Web File Manager interface.  Do note, the internal hard drives support only EXT3 and EXT4 file system support, and  the external hard drive support are EXT 3/4, FAT32, NTFS and HFS+.

Functions available for controlling UPS power backup

Functions available for controlling UPS power backup

We did install the network storage on our local network to find out if there is anything different about the product as compared to the past ones we reviewed. To our surprise, there is nothing new as the firmware is identical to the previous version and is common across all platforms. This is nice in a way so that the administrator does not have difficulty finding segments and sections under different models. To get a free Live demo of the product’s features, you can visit the QNAP website and watch a couple of the videos. 

Optional accessory - QNAP remote for HD Station

Optional accessory – QNAP remote for HD Station

What we did see new in the QNAP series is the HD Station, which is a module available after installation. It uses three sections inside it and can be visible on the television after connecting it via the HDMI cable. The HD station comprises three main sections—Chrome browser, XBMC media player and YouTube. Using a mouse or the optional remote, you can use the XBMC media player with ease. Alternatively, you can also use a USB mouse to operate the player with added perfection. The player can play most formats without any hitch. There is also a settings option that can help change the resolution of the display depending on the television type. The Chrome browser and YouTube would require a keyboard and mouse for using the complete functionality. An administration panel is also included in the HD Station section, using which you can configure the entire QNAP NAS just like you would do using a conventional browser over the network. You can control and tweak every settings from the device itself completely eliminating the need of having a PC connected to the network. Lastly, you can also connect a USB speaker to make use of the Music Station. All your music playback can be either streamed or played back using the USB speakers. To sum up the whole, you can use the QNAP TS-269L for movies and music playback with the simplicity of a keyboard, mouse and a handheld device such as an Android-or IOS based phone or tablet connected via the network. 

HD station as seen on the TV via the HDMI port

HD station as seen on the TV via the HDMI port

We did find two minor drawbacks, but it does not affect the functionality of the device in any ways. Firstly, there is no audio output port such as a stereo, 5.1/7.1-channel or coaxial/S-PDIF port for routing the audio from the high-definition videos to an external amplifier system. Though this could be done using the audio out from the HDMI via the TV or an HD receiver, the audio out could be beneficial. Secondly, the Chrome browser does not support JAVA-based websites. Maybe a fix from the manufacturer’s software development section could help in the next update. Apart from this, we had no complaints whatsoever. The NAS ships without hard drives and you can add one or two storage drives with supported capacities of up to 4TB in each bay. It includes a power adapter, a utility software disk and the necessary Ethernet and power cables in the box.

Cloud backup for storing your data to online services

Cloud backup for storing your data to online services

Verdict

Retailing for a whopping Rs 38,300, we feel the price might be a bit too high for a casual home user. But if you are a power user, you can take complete advantage of the NAS. With features such as cloud backup, one-touch data backup, auto data sync and backup, data migration and services such as SAMBA, FTP, HTTP, File server, DHCP server, video surveillance and a lot more including a high-definition media playback built-in single small unit, the QNAP TS-269L seems a good value for its offerings. Using the NAS, you can create a safe and secure 6TB bank of all your data in a single place and access it from anywhere on the local network as well as the Internet. If you are in need of a similar device with additional storage and security of RAID 5, the QNAP TS-469L 4-bay unit is also available for Rs 53,400. You can opt for similar features in all x69 series that are available in 5-bay, 6-bay and 8–bay variants. For our final statement, the QNAP is the most versatile network attached storage for home and SMB users who can save on huge expenses such as operating system and hardware costs and also save on space and power bills. If you want a cheaper NAS from QNAP, you can get two-bay models for below Rs 20,000 too, but features such as USB 3.0, Internet browsing and media playback via HDMI are a few functionalities that you might have to sacrifice.

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