Introduced at CES 2010, the QNAP TS-259 is a big step-up from the previously reviewed TS-239 Pro and an excellent NAS server for those who are comfortable with networking. The server offers top performance compared with other dual-bay NAS servers we've reviewed. Also, its Ajax-based Web interface is more intuitive than that of the TS-239 Pro, which is already very robust and easy to use. The QNAP TS-259 comes with a well-rounded and generous feature set and is able to support up to two IP cameras out of the box. It's one of the few NAS devices we've reviewed that has dual-Ethernet, dual-eSATA, and a VGA port for an external monitor. If you can afford the hefty price tag of $600 (plus some more for storage), the QNAP TS-259 is well worth the investment, especially for home office or small business environments. If you're looking for a comparable but easier-to-use home NAS server, we'd recommend the HP MediaSmart EX495.
The TS-259 Pro has a simple, yet well-thought-out and aesthetically pleasing design. It has two front-access removable drive trays and supports two SATA hard drives. With current hard drives maxing out at 2TB, the NAS server is capable of offering up to 4TB of storage. You'll need to provide these drives yourself, however, as the TS-259 Pro doesn't include them. Nonetheless, you shouldn't have trouble installing the drives on the drive trays, provided you have a Phillips head screwdriver. Each tray includes a latch that can be used to easily pull it out of the drive bay for hard drive installation or replacement. If this seems too easy, the trays also have a security lock to block accidental or unauthorized pullouts.
On the front of the NAS server, you'll find an USB port for external hard drives and a Copy button, which will automatically copy the entire contents of the USB drive onto the NAS' internal storage. This is a great way to quickly back up a thumb drive. Unfortunately, there's no LCD on the front of the server to manage the copying or other functions of the device.
On the back, the TS-259 Pro has another two USB ports and two eSATA ports, and each supports additional storage, either for expanding or backing up the internal storage. The USB port can also be used to host a USB printer. Also, the server offers dual-Ethernet ports. The TS-239 Pro's two Gigabit LAN ports can be used either for fail-safe or load-balancing purposes, but unfortunately don't increase the throughput speed when the two ports are used at the same time.
Like the TS-239 Pro, the TS-259 Pro comes with a VGA output, which can be attached to an external monitor, and its USB ports support both keyboard and mouse. On the inside, the server is powered by the recently announced 1.66Ghz Intel Atom D510 dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM. To use it as a computer, you'll need to know your Linux, as it can only be interfaced from the Linux command line. The server, however, is designed to be managed from a different network computer via its Web interface, which is one of the best among NAS servers.
Apart from installing the hard drives, the rest of the setup process involves installing the firmware and getting the drives ready. This process is simple and straightforward--especially with the included instructions--for tech-savvy users. Novice home users, though, may have some problems, as the instructions are not written in a very layman-friendly way.
We were able to get the NAS server up and running fairly quickly without any problem. We do notice, however, the NAS takes a long time to set up the hard drives into a RAID configuration. In our trials with two 759GB hard drives, it took a couple of hours to finish setting up a RAID 1. Considering this and the fact that the server doesn't come with any hard drive already installed, make sure you set aside some time to set up the server.
It's safe to say that the TS-259 Pro has most, if not all, of what you're looking to get from a NAS server. The first thing that's really nice about the NAS server is its Web interface. You can launch this interface from any network computer by using the QNAP Finer software (included) or you can simply type the device's IP address into a browser. This is a robust and intuitive management system and to some extent resembles the user interface of the Windows OS.
For example, if you want to add more users, you can use the "Create User" Wizard that walks you through various steps for creating the username and password, and for assigning privileges to different folders of the internal storage. If you want to use other functions or features of the server, similar wizards will do the job.
The TS-259 Pro has all the features that you'd find in most modern NAS servers, including FTP servers, HTTP servers, DNLA media-streaming servers, an iTunes server, a print server--that supports up to three printers--and so on. Each feature worked as intended, with a simple and straightforward setup.
Like the TS-239 Pro, the TS-259 Pro impressed us with advanced features like Download Station (which allows you to make the server download files by itself), Surveillance Station, built-in iSCSI target service (which is usually only available in enterprise NAS servers), AES 256-bit volume-based encryption, and dual-Ethernet. We didn't have a chance try out the iSCSI target service, but the others worked well in our tests.