This is not the typical every-day NAS we are testing today, it is a somewhat special device. When we usually think of NAS devices, it goes in the direction of tower and rack-systems; and that is not the thing you would like next to your well designed home-theatre system. Another thing that prevents most people from having their NAS in that particular location is the noise generated by fans to keep the device cooled; QNAP have tackled both these problems in the HS-251 silent and fanless NAS.
QNAP is one of the leading brands within NAS and storage, along with Synology and Thecus. Asustor have also grown into a bigger competitor in this market, and it takes something special to stand out from the crowd. QNAP is no stranger to this scenario and with the many years of experience they have in the bag, they packed this tiny 2-bay device with all sorts of useful features; this is far from the every-day NAS device.
This isn’t just a stylish and silent NAS either, it is also a HTPC at the same time. You can connect it directly to your TV or monitor via the built-in HDMI port to browse the web, stream media or play what you already have stored on the same device. There are three ways to control the HTPC part of this device, you can either attach a mouse and keyboard or use your mobile-phone or tablet with QNAP’s official control App. The third option is an extra remote control that can be bought separate.
Out of the box, the HS-251 has access to Google Chrome for your web browsing, while it features YouTube and Spotify application for your media on demand needs; best of all is probably the XMBC media player, allowing you to playback all your stored media files with more options and file support than most smart TV’s offer via the built-in DLNA player. The HS-251 of course supports DLNA too, for those who prefer it that way.
Being a QNAP device, it comes with a long list of installed applications and tools ranging from download manager to online photo albums and web-server. It also has the personal cloud feature to automatically synchronise all your files across your devices and keep an extra safe backup at home. The new QTS user interface is overall amazing and should give you pretty much any function and feature you could want from a NAS like this.
The QNAP HS-251 even has real-time and offline HD video transcoding to convert your videos to formats that can be smoothly played on PCs, mobile devices and Smart TVs. It allows multiple devices to simultaneously view different videos stored. This in return also allows to enjoy your videos, even on multiple devices, that lack computing power or have limited file format support.
The package content isn’t a big surprise and nothing special overall, but it does have everything we need to get our NAS up and running. Along with the quick installation guide there’s also a Getting Started guide. We get two Ethernet cables and a DC power brick with AC power cable depending on the region you bought your device. Of course the NAS is included too. Normally you’d also get 8 screws for 2½ inch drives and 8 for 3½ inch drives, to screw the drives into the caddies, but it looks like the packing robot however forgot to put those into this sample, so they aren’t shown below; if this should happen to you, I’m sure QNAP would be very quick to dispatch a new set to you.