In the SOHO market the price, as I’m sure you’ll imagine, is a key factor that can make or break the decision to buy a particular system. Priced at around $270-290 through Newegg, Amazon.com and TigerDirect in the US and around £240 in the UK through Scan and Amazon.co.uk, the HS-210 is right in there with the pricing of a number of other two-bay systems that are positioned at this point in the market. Pre-populated systems are also available with capacities varying from 1TB through a single drive, up to 8TB with a pair of 4TB drives, although the prices of these do vary; with the choice of drives and their respective prices varying across the board.
Taking a step back and looking at the design that QNAP have chosen with the HS-210, I have to give them credit for coming up with a product that fits right in with the home cinema setups that many of use have in our own homes. The glossy black plastic strip that runs right around the system works well with many other A/V products and the brushed aluminium upper contrasts and compliments the plastic well.
Sadly though there are a number of areas that I feel need addressing and the first of these has to be the running temperature of the hard drives. I can completely understand where QNAP are coming from as they come up with the concept of having a silent and passively cooled system, during our testing I noted that our Western Digital Se drives were running at around 53c and in turn this caused the Marvell processor to end up running at around 45c. Now on their own, these temperatures are well within the parameters that Marvell and WD outline for their products, but considering our hard drives normally run at around 40-42c in any other system, it is clear that the passive design causes this sharp rise in temperature, which would reduce their lifespan in the long run. Additionally I noted that the aluminium plate that makes up the top cover was very warm when touched, indicating that things are running very warm inside. The long and short from this is that I would prefer to see a small fan somewhere in the system that creates even a small amount of air flow over the drives to keep them cool, after all there are fans out there that run with very low acoustic properties so it is possible.
The second thing that I would like to question is the positioning of the USB ports and particularly the SD card reader. The only time someone is likely to use the card reader is when sharing photos from their camera or for copying them to the system itself, but positioning them on the front, or even the side would be far more logical as opposed to trying to feel where the slot is on the back and trying to manipulate a card into the reader virtually blind. This positioning and the feature of wanting to share content also brings me on to my last area of doubt. If QNAP are set on designing a system that the user would want to place in the midst of a home theatre setup, why is there no way of connecting a TV or other playback device to the NAS for direct viewing of the stored content. Many systems these days offer up this capability so why doesn’t the HS-210?
Performance wise though we do see some good results and whilst they are not pushing the limits of what is possible, for the purpose of sharing films, music and photos to your home entertainment devices they are more than enough.
Overall I do feel a little disheartened by the HS-210. From the moment I got it in I was looking forward to seeing a system that would be far more suited to the home entertainment setup that we all want to have, but sadly the above points really do let it down and QNAP I feel would benefit from giving the chassis and feature set a complete rethink in order to make something that gives just as much as any other two-bay system that can be had for a similar price.
- Slim design to fit in with other home cinema devices
- Magnetic front cover to hide drive bays
- Friendly user interface
- System runs a bit too hot for my liking
- Card reader and USB ports not easy to access
- No means of connecting a TV for direct playback of content
“QNAP’s SilentNAS HS-210 is a great concept, allowing users to easy incorporate the system in to a home entertainment setup, however there are a number of key areas that need addressing in order to justify why the user would want it at the heart of their home theatre.”
Thanks to QNAP for providing us with this review sample.