Hands-on review: Thecus N5810Pro 5 bay Linux NAS Drive
NAS Drives are like shopping for hardware or stationery - they sound boring but are actually really fun.
Our lives are full of data, movies, music, photos, presentations, documents etc. At the same time we are using more devices than just one desktop computer. A NAS Drive like this Thecus device is perfect for centrally storing all these documents and then accessing them from any device.
It could be a family or small business situation with sharing files or you could be a budding photographer with a huge collection. Multiple PC’s, Mac’s, Tablets and Smartphones can all be accessing the shared data at once.
Also, the more technical among us used to have a separate PC to plug into their TV. This could play movies, DVDs, streamed TV etc.
These new NAS boxes replace that entertainment PC by providing HDMI out, which enables it to plug directly into most modern television sets. This direct HDMI connection is really useful for playing movies and music directly from the device through your TV or stereo.
Thecus calls this particular NAS Drive the N5810Pro. It has five hard drive bays in the front of the unit, which allows for different types of configurations. In a technical sense this is called RAID, although for an average home user it means that the hard drives inside the unit can be setup to have a spare copy of your content on another drive, so that if one stops working you don’t lose your precious data or photos.
Generally, you buy the NAS Units without the drives inside and then buy the drives separately. We used four two terabyte drives from Seagate in the unit.
Design-wise it’s an elegant and professional looking machine. It’s got a piano black brushed charcoal metal look. It’s also not that large at just 23 cm high. It would look beautiful next to a TV and in your entertainment centre cabinet.
Your range of different devices can access the content by plugging into the USB slot on the front of the drive or via your network. You’d simply plug the unit into your network and any device on the network, or if you’ve got a Wi-Fi access point via that.
Installation of the drives was easy; you’ll just need a small screw driver - although you could ask your retailer or reseller to do this for you. Generally, there would be an additional cost.
There is a key hole on each drive and keys included if you want to lock your drives into the unit.
As well as health lights to show power, network activity and USB connectivity on the front of the unit, it also has a nifty LCD display to show you what it’s up to and warning messages.
The power button also has some good little sounds so you know what’s happening. A chime for starting, a different one for an issue and yet another for the shut down sequence. Very handy.
Once the hardware is sorted you simply launch the setup app from the CD included. It includes both a Windows and Mac setup wizard.
While I wouldn’t describe it as overly technical, you’ll need to have a reasonable understanding of your computer and your home network to do this.
There were essentially three steps in the process; device discovery, login, network configuration and then you’re off. The thing from there is that you can use the web interface to do the rest.
The unit is so powerful, it’s actually a computer with a quad core processor and Linux installed. Although for the average user you don’t even need to worry about all that. Just suffice to say, it’s fast, reliable and has so many features you’ll be amazed, like file serving, backup, playing media to your TV, streaming movies and music and the list goes on and on.
With the five Ethernet ports on the back, it essentially includes a switch at the same time. There is also an optional battery which will keep the unit going in a power outage long enough for it to be nicely shut down and avoid losing any data.
One feature I really liked was the remote access. This enables it to be connected to the internet, allowing you to access any files from outside of your home or office network securely through VPN.
It also includes a McAfee Antivirus license and professional backup software from Acronis.
In summary, this is a sophisticated and professional NAS Drive. While it’s a little technical to setup, it includes so many features and options I can’t see how they could make it any easier. It’s a great looking unit, fast to start and reliable. Well done Thecus, a great product for small business or large family usage.