We didn’t have any trouble installing and setting up the supplied Starter Utility software – it requires a username and password to get in, but this is given in the manual and can be changed once you’re logged on.
The NSA325 is managed from a great-looking and practical user interface on your internet browser. Seven cartoony icons are lined up in a row on a blue background, offering access to Music, Photo, Video, Favourites (shared playlists), File Browser, Application Zone and System.
As the name suggests, File Brower lets you wander through the folders and files on any connected hard drives or USB devices, using a rather utilitarian but effective series of lists.
Application Zone is where you’ll find the clever stuff like Broadcatching, which manages frequently updated content like RSS feeds and podcasts, Print Server, FTP, copy/sync features, the internet Download Service and much more. These are listed with links to the appropriate page, which open up in separate windows.
Finally the System menu’s Settings option lets you set your preferences, while the Administration section gives you a detailed breakdown of the NSA325’s status, but does so in a clear, uncluttered menu system. On the whole, this interface is excellent, with the logical structure and clean, attractive presentation making everything easy to locate and operate.
And in action we had no trouble accessing files from the NSA325 on our laptop, Wi-Fi equipped Samsung Smart TV and iPad. None of the file formats we streamed caused any trouble (provided they were supported by the streaming device, of course). As a bonus it also shared the contents of our connected USB flash drive across the network, and files also copy from USB to HDD at satisfyingly fast speeds. General transfer speeds were also good with our large file transer test returning figures of 83MB/s read and 96MB/s write.
The ZyXEL NSA325 is a terrific media server, feeding movies and music to your networked Blu-ray decks and TVs in a slick, hassle-free manner, but it’s so much more besides. As a high performance NAS it's nippy at backing up data and you can also download large files from the web, manage your podcasts or make copies on a USB printer – not to mention the snazzy zMedia app, which lets you play content from your phone. Build quality isn’t the best but that doesn’t greatly affect our admiration for it.