If it’s features you’re after then the TS-109 is the one for you as it’s simply crammed with them. Multimedia functions include the TwonkyMedia server which can be configured from the web interface and the appliance runs an iTunes server as well. For the latter you import music to the Qmultimedia folder making it accessible to any user running the iTunes client. The Multimedia Station provides web access to your photographs and thumbnails are created once they have been uploaded. A slideshow runs through them at a preset interval in seconds and you can save them off and print them directly from the interface.
As with Synology’s CS-407e, you have a Download Station for retrieving files using BitTorrent, HTTP and FTP but, unlike Synology, you don’t get a scheduler for unattended operations. You can use the web interface or the bundled QGet utility but both offer precisely the same features. Bizarrely, both tools will only report on file sizes and download averages if you pause an active job and resume it.
Support for PHP and an integral MySQL server means you can use the appliance as a web server, it supports NT domain and Active Directory authentication and user disk quotas, plus you get some useful backup tools as well. Selected folders can be replicated to another remote TS-109 appliance at scheduled intervals while Windows workstation backup is handled by the bundled NetBak Replicator which also provides a scheduler.
Although the appliance only has room for a single drive you can plug in an external USB or eSATA drive and implement RAID-1 mirroring across them. We connected a 300GB Maxtor external drive and after selecting the Q-RAID 1 setting it was automatically formatted and used as a mirror. If the internal hard disk fails data restoration is a simple process. We reformatted the internal drive and selected the Recover Data function whereupon all the data on the USB drive was restored back to the appliance and the mirror reinstated. A great idea but there is a price to pay as performance takes a hit with our video clip copy tests now delivering a reduced 16.9MB/sec and 13.2MB/sec read and write speeds.
When we reviewed the Synology CS-407e we thought it wasn’t possible to get any more features at this price point but QNAP has proved us wrong. Overall performance is particularly good and although the Download Station feature is of limited value there’s little this box can’t do - the backup features are also a cut above the rest