QNAP’s perfectly excellent little two-bay NAS has received a perfectly excellent update that gives it just a little bit more functionality - as if it didn’t already have enough.
While it has always been possible to plug in a client USB drive to the front of the NAS, the TS-251A adds a second USB port that allows the NAS itself to work in client-mode. This means now you don’t even need a home network to set it up or use it: the N in this NAS stands for ‘USB direct’. Uh... just go with it.
Also joining the front fascia is an SD-card slot for yet another more option to load files onto either of the HDDs in the two bays (or both at once depending on your preferred RAID setup).
Elsewhere this is the same TS-251 we’ve loved for a while now. Powered by a Celeron N3060 and 2GB of RAM it’s beefy enough to handle most filing and delivery duties short of 1080P video transcoding. It WILL happily play back 1080P video if it’s already in a format supported by your media device, though.
And thanks to QNAP’s increasingly powerful Linux-derived OS (called QTS) you can download and install an app that will convert video with just a few mouse-clicks. Command line? Not here!
Our only caveat remains with that transcoding. The Celeron is ALMOST powerful enough to handle all your media, and that almost can at times be frustrating. Right now the solution is to jump up several tiers (and $1000) to a four-bay NAS like the TVS-471. But that thing can squirt out multiple 1080p streams at once, and we’re not that greedy.
If QNAP can take the functionality and connectivity of the TS-251A and give it a slightly more powerful CPU (and 4GB of RAM why not), they’ll have the ultimate home media box. And that would be a compelling offering indeed.