QNAP HS-210 home theater NAS quick look

The QNAP HS-210 proves Network Attached Storage (NAS) isn't just for the enterprise or even home office any more. Home theater and media management now involve saving and slinging files around that are every bit as big and important as the corporate data of old but also bring with them style and sophistication demands uniquely their own. The QNAP HS-201 seeks to balance these needs by combining the look of a set top box with the technology of a RAID appliance. With just 2 HD/SSD bays, 1 Gigabit ethernet, 2 UBS3, 2 USB, but with the QTS 4.0 interface and the myQNAPcloud service, how well does it work out?

Not designed to be locked away in a server room or even hidden in a closet, QNAP made the HS-201 to fit in proudly alongside your other home theater components. It's built like a set top box with a brushed aluminum finish that screams "display me!". It's also got software meant less for the IT professional and more for the home enthusiast. That doesn't mean most of my family members could figure it out but it does mean anyone reasonably techie should be able to get it up and running. While simple, however, it can still be time consuming. Hurry up and wait isn't just for government lineups anymore.

The QNAP HS-210's slim, sleek form-factor comes at a cost — there are only 2 drive bays inside. That means you're limited to RAID 0 or RAID 1. Basically you can strip data across both disks to make it faster but scarier or mirror it between both disks to make it safer. You'll want to ignore RAID 0 and go with RAID 1. In fact, since only one level of redundancy is not redundancy at all, you'll still want to keep with the old mantra of a secondary local backup (or two) and a cloud/remote backup (or two). Multiple disk failures seem unlikely... until they happen to you.

One you're up and running there's a lot to enjoy about the QNAP. QTS 4.0 will do most of the heavy media lifting for you. AirPlay is fully supported by the QNAP HS-210 via the QAirPlay app in their App Center. Load it onto the QNAP and any and all videos on the device can go straight to your Apple TV. (It also supports DLNA if you're an Apple TV-free home.) If you don't want to use the QNAP HS-210 exclusively for media, Time Machine is also supported so you can backup your Mac over the network as well. There's also QSync, which turns the QNAP HS-210 into a local Dropbox-style way to move your files between all of your machines, Surveillance Station with IP Camera support, Note Station for collaboration, and the list goes on and on.

Again, about the only limitation you'll find here are the two drive bays. However, if home theater really is your focus, the QNAP HS-210's futuristic, fanless design will more than make up for it.

We'll be putting our QNAP HS-210 review unit through its paces in our video pipeline for the next little while. We'll also try other things, like Time Machine, AirPlay, etc. over the next few weeks, and will follow up with some specifics on how it performs, and how it compares to other systems like Drobo and Synology.

If you have any questions on it, or specific things you'd like to see tested and tried out, let me know!

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.