IF WE WERE to put together a wish list for two-bay NASes, the QNAP TS-251A would tick pretty much every item. It’s both a powerful NAS and a media player in one, with an HDMI out port that will let you plug it straight into your TV set and run Kodi on it. It even comes with a solid IR remote and built-in receiver. There’s enough power in its Celeron processor and 4GB of memory to run the full range of apps and services you might want, including Container Station/Virtualisation,Plex with live transcoding and even Surveillance Station.
It has an SD card reader and even includes what is called a Quick Access USB port, which lets you plug it directly into a PC and use it like a USB hard drive. It also comes with our current favourite firmware. The suite of apps QNAP provides in its store is impressive, and it has the best range of first-party media tools, including DLNA servers, web-based photo and video galleries, karaoke and more. A new Media Streaming add-on ups its game even further, allowing the QNAP to directly beam to AirPlay, Chromecast and DLNA Play devices without the need for client intervention.
There’s also a very good Surveillance Station, tools for backup and sync (including to cloud services), content management, BitTorrent downloading, a cloud-based note app (think Google Docs) and much more. It’s probably the most impressive set of tools available, and it’s all packaged in an OS that’s, for the most part, easy enough for even beginners to grok. The one black spot is its mobile tools. QNAP still has a lot of work to do, with mobile apps that can be confusing and unintuitive. Those aside, however, this NAS is the bomb, and a current top pick.