Monday, April 11, 2016

Overview QNAP TAS-168: NAS «two in one” with QTS and Android – 3DNews

Sooner or later it had to happen – the transition to Android as a platform for working with media content and other entertainment logically justified. It allows, on the one hand, to achieve a kind of universality through the installation of third-party applications, and on the other – does not affect in a negative way to the base functionality of the device is a NAS. Well, that is almost not affected, because the QNAP TAS-168 and its two-disk modification TAS-268 both OS – Android, and “native” QTS – have to share the one “iron” because they both work. This affects their performance. However, for home use it is enough, but for all sorts of nuances and peculiarities of this hybrid we will tell below.

⇡ # Appearance and design

In general, the design of the new items is very, very nice. QNAP TAS-168 has dimensions of 168 × 60 × 125 mm and a weight of about 600 g (without the disc, of course). The drive offers only vertical installation. From a distance it seems that it can be placed horizontally – for TV, for example – but its side faces slightly convex: the device on its side will not put. The base and the top cover is made of matte black plastic, and side cover – white glossy. On the front side is a narrow strip of glossy black, which brings all the lights and buttons. On the bottom there are four rubberized feet and screw fixing one of the side walls.

On both sides at the bottom of the ventilation slots are – after one of them is drawn air passes upwardly through the chamber and further the hard disk entrained cooler, pulled down the motherboard and out through the other slit. Cooling was quiet despite the modest size of the fan. During the tests, it just does not spin above moderate 1080 rev / min using an automatic speed control, according to the built-in operating system monitoring utility. At the same time, according to it the same SoC temperature was below 60 ° C, while in use during the test drive WD Red WD10EFRX (1TB), the temperature did not exceed 45 ° C.

partly in the fight against noise to help small vtulochki rubber, through which the fixing hard drive. The platform for both models (one and two Disk) is the same. Next to the SATA-connector “low” disc is a connector for the HDD connector similar to “top”. The device is designed for the installation of the drive without the use of additional tools – a disc to put enough in the “bed” and fasten the sides with two plastic inserts. In general, the design of robust and successful. Perhaps the only thing it will be necessary to take care – it is protected against dust. Hardly cleaning viscera NAS bring a lot of joy

On the front panel of the NAS are two buttons: one to turn on / off switch with integrated indicator system status;. the second – to quickly copy data to external storage, it is possible to turn off Android. Between the buttons is an SD card slot, and a little below – port USB 3.0. Located nearby port IR receiver. Slightly higher – three more small pale indicator indicating the status of HDD, USB-drive and network connection. At the top end there is a large and well-marked white light – it is active when the NAS is turned on. In addition, the NAS has a buzzer (speaker- “squeaker»)

On the back wall removed the remaining ports. Four USB 2.0, Gigabit LAN port, HDMI video output and power jack. There is also a button to reset. The device comes with the remote control RM-IR003 preloaded with CR2025 type battery. The remote is small, but comfortable enough. It is better not to lose and not to break, since he alone is worth as much as $ 30. In addition, the set includes a warranty card, instructions for quick setup, patch cord, external power supply and cable with plug. BP is manufactured by FSP – for NAS chose compact model FSP036-RAB 36 W

⇡ # Specifications

The QNAP TAS. -168 used SoC Realtek RTD1195 (2 ARM Cortex-A7 core, frequency up to 1.1 GHz, GPU Mali 400-MP), 2 GB DDR3 and 4GB flash drive. Despite the fact that this chipset is very popular among manufacturers of video players and other set-top boxes, information on the web about it not so much. For example, here and here indicate the list of the hardware video codecs: 4K2K, 8-bit H.264 / MVC, 10-bit H.265 / HEVC, 1080p MPEG 1/2/4, AVC / VC-1, AVS, AVS Plus, HD Jpeg (up to 32k × 32k). It also says about hardware support DTS-HD and Dolby Digital Plus / TrueHD technology with the ability to “carryover” of the original tracks (up to 5.1) or LPCM (7.1) via HDMI, as well as audio formats AAC, WAV, FLAC, OGG Vorbis.

The screenshots below shows all installed codecs for OS AIDA64 reports, and the results of the test AnTuTu VideoTester. However, an ordinary user is unlikely to encounter a problem of video playback, and a first media player at home TAS-168 is suitable. Nevertheless, there are some features of the Android, and which is supposed to watch the video, but they are a little lower. SoC also supports the following interfaces: HDMI 1.4 (with DRM), USB 2.0 and USB 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet, SATA. The system also contains USB-hubs and SATA-bridge ASMedia. Interestingly, the web has information about support chipset for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, however, in this device, they are not implemented.

According to the company, support for USB-dongles Wi-Fi will be added, but the Bluetooth, unfortunately, will not. The NAS supports the installation of 3.5-inch drives. A list of compatible models presented on the site, although, according to the company, no problem need to make other models. Internal HDD Installation FS formatted EXT4, and external hard drives can be FS EXT3 / 4, FAT32, NTFS, HFS +. TAS-168 is also able to work with the UPS and printers. But everything else, except perhaps, the USB-cameras supported is unlikely to be.

Network storage QNAP TAS-168
storage 1 × HDD 3,5 “; SDHC; external USB-drives, cloud services
chipset / controller Realtek RTD1195 (2 × ARM Cortex-A7, frequency up to 1.1 GHz), GPU Mali 400-MP
Storage RAM 2 GB DDR3 / ROM 4GB
Support for FS Inner drive: EXT4; external drives: EXT3 / 4, FAT32, NTFS, HFS +
Network access FTP (S), SAMBA 3, AFP, NFS, HTTP (S); iTunes Server , DLNA, Chromecast
cooling system 1 × fan 40 mm; dynamic speed control
Interfaces 1 × 10/100/1000 Mbps / s Ethernet; 1 × USB 3.0; 4 × USB 2.0; 1 × HDMI 1.4
LED Power / state network, HDD , USB; buzzer
Hardware buttons Meals, quick copy, reset; IR remote control (MCE)
Dimensions (WxDxH) 168 × 60 × 125 mm
Weight 0,6 kg
Power DC 12 V 3 A; work schedule; UPS support (USB, SNMP, network)
Price 25 000 rubles
Internet Static IP, DHCP; Jumbo-frames 9K
Basic services Android 4.4.4 KitKat, Kodi; Photo, Music, Video, File Station; Qsync; Web server, SQL-server; Backup Rsync, RRTP, TimeMachine
Network Services UPnP, Bonjour ; TFTP; SNMP; DDNS; SSH, Telnet; Syslog; Print Server
Services Dynamic DNS myQNAPCLoud; DHS International, DynDns, DyNS, NO-IP, ODS, oray, PubyunDNS (3322), selfHOST
Download Manager BitTorrent / FTP (S) / HTTP (S) / FlashGet / Thunder / QQDL; magnet-links; RSS, BitTorrent Search; Transmission (optional)
Notifications E-Mail, SMS, Push -service
Security a black / white list of IP; protection against brute force; SSL-certificates; ClamAV anti-virus; Network Recycle Bin; guest

⇡ # Using the NAS

Special paint job QTS – primary OS NAS – we will not. By and large, anything earlier about this system, is also true for the new version of QTS 4.2, the description of which in Russian is available here. Of course, we must remember that due to the nature of TAS-168 hardware platform, some things like virtualization and SSD-cache available. There is also no support for a number of functions that are relevant to corporate users, but here they are not needed. The list of available applications includes several dozen items.

In addition, the NAS supports Python, Java, PHP, Perl, and Ruby on Rails, and on the QNAP website users can search the community additional programs and services. You can also install and very useful Entware system. However, even if the third-party software compatibility list specifically TAS-x68 is not, it does not mean that it can not be used. For example, we have no problems earned BitTorrent Sync service.

In order to evaluate the performance used the same tools as in previous reviews. For large files, the read speed is almost 70 MB / s, and the recording – 40 MB / s. It’s not small, but not very much. The nuance is that the hardware of the drive is a double burden: the actual QTS together with standard network functions and Android. Theoretically, you can disable Android and get gain network exchange rates. In practice, however, this idea is a bit strange, since lost the whole point of it is this combination of operating system, which is meant to be – half of the features will simply not available

Using the Android

Instead of the previously used separate HD Station application extension functionality which fall on the shoulders of the developers themselves, in the TAS-168 is running Android 4.4.4 KitKat, that formally allows the state to support the storage of thousands of apps at once. Moreover, this approach eliminates the implementation of the functions within the QTS through the use of third-party software on Android. For example, to work with VPN-connections offered to establish a suitable program from Google Play.

Upgrading the OS probably will, but not until the fifth or later. According to the company, for “five” the hardware is still rather weak. As it gets Android with QTS, not states. We only know that they are using a common Linux kernel. When it both OS have access to all drives: internal and external. Working together the two operating systems just through file sharing and network.

Android is almost “naked”, with only minor modifications. First, it requires a login ID and password. The list of users permitted to Android, set in the QTS. Second, using your own simple little shell. On the main screen rendered three large “icons” for easy access to pictures, music and video. In the upper part there are three additional buttons to view the notifications, NAS monitoring the status and output of Android. Below, in addition to the mandatory “Home”, “Back” and switch between applications, the buttons, there are also a number of additional buttons that are supposed to simplify the work with the shell with the remote.

In the settings there are some specific options like selecting video output mode and sound or fit the screen size envelope. The latter function has been very useful, as the default mapping interface goes slightly beyond the boundaries of the screen. Curiously, the default Android is always displayed in 720p mode, although this does not prevent the normal display full-screen video in a higher resolution. Also in the settings you can disable the HDMI-CEC and change the settings of the network connection, if suddenly someone will need.

By means of the included remote control or by using the USB-external keyboard and mouse. It is assumed that one can manage and control, but in fact this method is not very convenient. The remote can also be used as a mouse, controlling the pointer, and as a “keyboard”, which really means the ability to move between items on the screen using the joystick on the remote control, plus quick access to certain functions such as adjusting the sound, go back, context menu, and so Further. As with all such installations, some functions such as gestures or long press is not implemented.

So for some actions have to excel, driving the cursor around the screen and constantly switching between modes. However, it is much more convenient to use QNAP Qremote application for smartphones, which allow to do without any external input devices. Although it does not help in applications designed for control of the fingers. In the Android preinstalled own shop Qmarket, which has recommended for NAS software (alas, the recommendations are not always correct), as well as an almost complete set of native applications for Android, with which the idea and should be done all the work with the NAS.

I also work for a month with the TAS-168 has developed a variant of the use of Android – immediately after entering the media center Kodi inclusion, which is much better adapted to the management of the remote and only occasionally – running other applications. However, expect a large variety of entertainment software for the TAS-168 is not necessary. In AnTuTu 6 device gained 15552 points, and in Geekbench 3 – a little more than 300. The graphics benchmark result is very modest – from fractions to two dozen FPS. In general, to use Android in TAS-168 is possible, but extremely comfortable, this process will not name.

With regard to work precisely with the video, the players and Kodi MXPlayer (HW +) on the test patterns Jellyfish and UMS VideoTestingSuite file any problems with content containing XviD codecs, and of Opus 6-channel Vorbis. And one player might still be normal, and the other at the same time there was no sound or picture or else there is a “brake” or video out of sync with the audio. A common problem for both players – impossibility comfortable work with 10-bit H.265, as well as 4K-video stream from 120 Mbit / s. However, the owners of the appropriate TV probably go bankrupt and the purchase of their respective requests consoles. With the rest of the files from the test set there were no problems.

⇡ # Conclusion

The impressions from working with QNAP TAS-168 in two ways. On the one hand, the idea of ​​combining the two operating systems look great, and they work together too well. On the other hand, the combination of disparate systems into a single device leads to different compromises. In particular, the NAS performance is somewhat less than the “regular” junior models without Android. At the same time work with Android itself is not too comfortable due to the weak support devices without touch screens. By and large, in the current form, it is only good for playing video content.

Thus, QNAP TAS-168/268 may be of interest to users who want to get, and a media player, and a classic home NAS in a single device. In this case, a pluses device can be attributed, and a kind of versatility and compactness and quiet operation, and a good set of features. The minuses is worth the price record – is now TAS-168 can be purchased for about 24-25 thousand rubles, according to “of Yandex.Market” at the time of writing the material. The older model TAS-268 is more expensive by an average of 3-4 thousand rubles.

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