Zyxel NSA310 review
Zyxel’s NSA310 is a simple single-bay NAS enclosure which aims to be more of a media server than a top-specification NAS. It's impressively good value considering it comes with a 2TB hard disk, at less than half the price of single-bay 2TB NAS enclosures from Synology such as the DiskStation DS211j. It doesn’t skimp on specification though – powered by a 1.2GHz ARM processor accompanied by 256MB RAM, it should have enough grunt to dish out large amounts of data and stream HD content.
The NAS feels well made, and a useful USB port on the front panel makes it easy to copy files straight from external storage devices with the copy/sync button above it. The rear of the enclosure has a further USB port along with an eSATA port, while a 40mm fan provides cooling. Thankfully this fan proved to be very quiet during operation, although the lack of sound proofing for the single hard disk bay meant the NSA310 isn’t the quietest NAS enclosure we’ve used.
Installing a hard disk is quick and easy and the software included was straightforward - you should have the NSA310 up and running in less than half an hour. The main user interface is very slick and fast, but only provides access to a fraction of the NSA310’s options. These, including settings for the media server, download manager, power and storage management, are located in an entirely different section under System. There’s no mention of this in the instructions, which made the setup a little frustrating.
Zyxel pitches the NSA310 as a media server, and to this end it supports UPnP and is DLNA certified so can stream content to phones, consoles and media streamers, and it can also act as an iTunes and Logitech Media Server. However, that's not all it can do. You can also upload photos and videos directly to Flickr and YouTube, without the need for a PC, and the NAS has one of the best download clients we’ve seen in a NAS enclosure. This supports BitTorrent and eMule through a drag-and-drop download manager, so you can download files straight to the NSA310, and the NAS can sort files automatically into specific folders.
You can watch your content directly in a web browser using the interface's built-in media player, or listen to streaming music with the free VLC player from www.videolan.org. Streaming media to other devices via shared folders or to consoles worked well too, and HD video playback was smooth over our wired network. During our file transfer tests, the NAS averaged about 30MB/sec when dealing with large files, but only 7MB/sec with small files – this NAS is much better at dishing out videos than acting as a general storage device.
The Zyxel NSA310 is easy to use, works well, and is very good value. It may not have the fastest transfer speeds we've seen, but at this price it's a bargain.
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