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Section written by Tim Higgins

Craig recently reviewed QTS 4.1 QNAP's most recent NAS OS. QNAP also has a live demo that allows you to explore the features. Currently, the demo is based on QTS 4.1.0.

Since that review, QNAP has released 4.1.1, which appears to introduce some significant changes. The "HD" in HD Station now means "HybridDesk" vs. "High Definition", perhaps in preparation for the upcoming introduction of QvPC features in QTS 4.1.2 noted earlier. (I somehow missed the TS-x53 series announcement a few weeks ago that included the QvPC introduction.)

HybridDesk Station must first itself be installed and also provides installers for the CodexPack required to enable hardware transcoding in HS-251, TS-X51 and TS-X53 models. You'll also find installers for Chrome, XBMC, YouTube, QTS, Spotify and Surveillance Station (Local Display).

HybridDesk Station

HybridDesk Station

I'm sure QNAP has its reasons, but having this mini App Center is confusing. But so is having multiple versions of NAS and mobile device apps that sorta do the same thing.

On-The-Fly Transcoding

Section written by Tim Higgins

A specific example is what happened when I tried to test real-time transcoding. This feature appears to have been added in QTS 4.1.1, which is why Craig didn't catch it in his QTS 4.1 review. The composite screenshot below compares the Tranacode Management screens for QTS 4.1.0 (top) and QTS 4.1.1 (bottom).

HybridDesk Station

QTS 4.1.0 and 4.1.1 Transcode Management screens

I had a false start trying to use the now obsolete QMobile app (replaced with QFile) on a Nexus 7, which sent me chasing my tail working with the now equally obsolete Multimedia Station (replaced with separate Photo, Music and Video Stations NAS apps).

I then bumped into a problem using QFile, which froze after a pop-up telling me "to enrich your user experience, it is recommended [emphasis mine] to install 3rd party Apps, such as Mxplayer, Vplayer, etc.". Turns out the freeze was a bug, which is now fixed with new versions of QFile (1.0.1 for Tablet and 1.6.1 for Phone, I'm told).

I was also told, however, that the "recommendation" in the message is actually a requirement, "in order to play those formats which are not supported by the device natively". Uh, but isn't that the purpose of on-the-fly transcoding, to make any file playable by any device? (QNAP pointed out that Synology has the same requirement for its Android DS video app.)

In the end, I was not successful in getting QFile (or QFile HD on a Samsung Galaxy Tab S--nice tablet by the way) to trigger an automatic transcoding. The only time I was able to see an entry pop up in the On-the-fly Transcoding tab was when I played a video that somehow managed to get into Video Station, which I had tried as a last resort.

I also tried to test automatic transcoding by using a Roku 3. I was surprised to find that the Roku Media Player can now access files on DLNA servers instead of only those on an attached USB drive. But, alas, the Player will show only files in formats that the Roku can natively play. So I couldn't even try asking the TS-451 to auto-transcode because the Roku wouldn't show me any files that needed to be transcoded!

Synology handled this by creating a DS video Roku "channel", which Craig used to successfully test auto-transcoded video in his DSM 5.0 review using his Roku 3. QNAP says it is looking into creating its own channel for the Roku.

So, for now at least, Synology has a big edge over QNAP when it comes to ease of use for on-the-fly transcoding.

Performance Summaries

Version 4.1.1 Build 20140820 firmware was loaded on a TS-451 for our standard NAS test process. As we have done in similar reviews, we ran tests posted for the TS-251 using the TS-451 loaded with only two drives configured in RAID 0 and 1 volumes. The TS-451 tests used four drives configured in RAID 0, 5 and 10 volumes.

Windows File Copy Write and Read performance for the TS-451 was very consistent across RAID 0, RAID 5 and RAID 10 volumes , with reads (107.6, 106.7 and 107.4 MB/s) slightly lower than writes (110.1, 109.4, and 110.0 MB/s).

NASPT File Copy to NAS (write) was also consistently higher than the corresponding Windows File Copy Write Performance for each RAID type. NASPT File Copy from NAS was consistently lower than the corresponding Windows File Copy Read Performance for each RAID type. All things considered, however, this is clearly a NAS capable of 100 MB/s+ throughput moving large files around.

QNAP TS-451 Benchmark Summary

QNAP TS-451 Benchmark Summary
With two drives representing the TS-251's performance, File Copy Write performance was almost identical to the results achieved using four drives on the TS-451. (110.1 vs. 110.5 MB/s). However File Copy Read performance with two drives was about 12% less than with four drives (94.3 vs. 107.6 MB/s). RAID 1 File Copy Read and Write performance was in line with corresponding RAID 5 and RAID 10 results turned in with four drives. For NASPT File Copy tests, Copy to NAS was consistently higher than Copy from NAS for both RAID 0 and RAID 1.

QNAP TS-251 Benchmark Summary

QNAP TS-251 Benchmark Summary

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