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QNAP TS-659 Pro+ review: QNAP TS-659 Pro+

The TS-659 is yet another great Atom-based NAS from QNAP. At AU$1599, though, it'll likely be a crimp on most wallets. For those who can afford it, they'll find a solid, reliable NAS that will happily fill the role of storage workhorse.

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Craig Simms
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Craig Simms

Special to CNET News

Craig was sucked into the endless vortex of tech at an early age, only to be spat back out babbling things like "phase-locked-loop crystal oscillators!". Mostly this receives a pat on the head from the listener, followed closely by a question about what laptop they should buy.

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4 min read

Where we'd expect a six-bay NAS to be tall, QNAP has gone for horizontal, quite possibly to make rack adoption a little more friendly.

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9.0

QNAP TS-659 Pro+

The Good

Great performance. Excellent UI manages vast amount of features. Mobile apps available for image, movie and audio streaming. Two eSATA ports and five USB ports.

The Bad

Limited format support in Multimedia Manager. Can't view images at 100 per cent zoom in UI or mobile app. Can't upload images larger than 2GB in web file manager.

The Bottom Line

The TS-659 is yet another great Atom-based NAS from QNAP. At AU$1599, though, it'll likely be a crimp on most wallets. For those who can afford it, they'll find a solid, reliable NAS that will happily fill the role of storage workhorse.

Not that this is a rack-mountable NAS, it's your standard high-quality box with drives that we've come to expect from QNAP, this time with six drive bays. It has an LCD screen informing of useful things like IP and disk status, and also allowing basic configuration.

There's a USB port on the front for copying to/from predefined directories, another four on the back, dual-gigabit Ethernet ports, dual-eSATA ports and a VGA port for troubleshooting.

The USB ports will happily take printers, external storage, UPS, IP cams and Wi-Fi dongles, but it's worth checking QNAP's compatibility list before you go on a USB spree.

Inside is an Atom 1.8GHz dual-core processor, 1GB RAM and a 512MB DOM. By nature of its six drives, you have access to RAID 0, 1, 10, 5, 6, JBOD and single disk options.

If you don't need six drives and want to save money, you'll find the exact same configuration with one drive less in the TS-559. Or you could even drop down to the TS-239 Pro II+, but with only two drives you'll lose RAID 5 and 6 options.

User interface and features

QNAP's user interface (UI) is well thought out and excellently presented, considering it has to expose so many features. Upon first logging into the web UI, you're greeted with a CoverFlow-style screen that will take you to Administration, the web server, the web file manager and QNAP support. We've been complaining about this for a while — although it's pretty, it's just another click that's not needed. There's yet another unnecessary click that's enforced, too; if you click on anything other than "Administration", it pops up a dialog box pointlessly asking you to click on another link.

QNAP UI

The thing's huge ... it goes on forever ... and — oh my gosh — it's full of features!
(Screenshot by CBS Interactive)

Once you're in, the cavalcade of features begins: IPv6 support; DDNS; timed hard disk standby; fan control; whitelist/blacklist ACLs; event notification by SMS, email or both; wake on LAN; automated firmware updates; encrypted volumes; iSCSI and virtual disk support; user and group management; network recycle bin support; SMB, AFP, NFS, SNMP and UPnP protocols; FTP and telnet/SSH access; a LAMP web server with virtual host ability; RSYNC, Amazon S3 backup and Time Machine compatibility for backups; and a button on front copies to or from the attached USB stick from or to a predetermined folder on the NAS.

Remote access to the NAS is supplied by MyCloudNAS, allowing users to register an x.mycloudnas.com sub-domain in order to access the NAS wherever they desire.

Championship manager

The NAS UI is otherwise broken up into different "managers", as QNAP has previously done.

The web file manager is there purely for convenience, although it does offer ISO mounting, Google Docs access and queued uploads, which are nice touches. Our major frustration with the web manager from the last QNAP review we did still exists: it will not upload files larger than 2GB in size.

Multimedia Manager hasn't received an upgrade since our last QNAP review, and is still a weak point of QNAP's offering, especially when it comes to image viewing. Large images look like a mess when scaled, and without the ability to view an image full screen, or at its native size, it's nothing more than token. It can't even recognise BMP files. You can view at native image size if you use the Cooliris plug-in, but it doesn't gracefully handle folders, requiring you to load Cooliris for every single folder that you want to view.

Movie viewing isn't much better, with a re-encode to FLV required to view over the network, unless it's an H.264-encoded MP4 file. It also still doesn't understand the MKV extension.

What is new since the last QNAP NAS we saw is that its QMobile App has been ported to Android. Just like the iPhone version, this allows the user to view photos on the NAS and stream compatible music and movies to their handsets. You can also upload photos, too, making it a useful tool if you need to make more space on your phone and somewhere to offload your pictures to.

By and large, it's a decent showing from QNAP, but there are a few niggles; namely, that while you can browse sub-folders, there's no way to get up a level other than the back button (which can get frustrating if you've got a complex structure) and you can't download whole images to your phone — you're stuck with a downscaled preview. We'd love integration to go deeper, including NAS configuration and better control of media, but it's a decent first step for now.

Performance

Copying a 4GB file to the NAS configured in RAID 5 resulted in an average sustained transfer of 96MBps, while copying from started well at 111MBps, but then slowed to 75MBps as the transfer went on.

Conclusion

The TS-659 is yet another great Atom-based NAS from QNAP — the only place you can really go wrong is the price. At AU$1599 with no drives, this'll likely be a crimp on most wallets. But for those who can afford it, they'll find a solid, reliable NAS that will happily fill the role of storage workhorse.

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