zaterdag, mei 03, 2008

Combining a PVR and a NAS


With 4 tech-savvy people in the house using computers, we've got data scattered across some computers. Would be nice to have it all in 1 place. Since the online storage business is still in development, i was looking around for current solutions: get myself a NAS (Network Attached Storage). And while i was at it: why not get myself a PVR (Personal Video Recorder). That made me wonder: why get 2 boxes who both need to be 'always on' (for recording video or serving files)? Wouldn't it be nice to combine them in one device?

I would like such a device to be 'green': use as less energy as possible. But it needs to serve files fast, which is kinda a dilemma, i guess (high performance, low energy). And while reading about solutions (MacMini, MythTv (PVR), FreeNAS (NAS) and lots of others) you find out there are lots of (other) choices to be made. Like: how much storage? In Raid0 or Raid5 configuration (Raid enables you to have a HD crash and replace it with a new drive without the unit going down, in theory ;-)). This article can help in defining what you want.

I found the Synology product line has earned a lot of good reviews. But at a cost. My conclusion until now: a high performance low energy consumption NAS doesn't come cheap. And i haven't found an easy NAS & PVR-solution... Maybe a PS3 with PlayTV? Or the Neuros OSD-box?

In short we're looking for: a fast device, green/low power consumption, extensible (using bigger disks when available or needed), usable with Windows/Mac/Linux/Xbox360/PS3 and more (so also DLNA-support), being able to download by itself (Bit torrent, nzb). And we want to be able to do Raid 5 for data-protection (we don't want to lose our photos).

Anybody reading this with tips: let me hear please :-)!

Update May 3rd: just found this ARS Technica building a green PC-guide. And for Dutch readers a list of drives that can be connected to a LAN, hardware.info tested 2-disk NASses (Nov 2008), this test by ComputerTotaal (Feb 2008) and a review where NAS solutions are compared.

Update June 6th: the Dreambox seems to get a lot of good reviews.

Update August 29th '08: after a new media server was announced, i read about people really liking the Synology DS-10x-line.

Update Dec 20th '08: found this review of 5 TOP network attached storage devices by PCWorld. And this review of the Synology DiskStation DS209+, which is said to pack good performance, lots of features and being relatively green. The same ITReviewed website also sports a December 2008 review of the 5Big NAS from Lacie (2.5, 5 and 7.5 TB!).

And what about this raving review of the ReadyNAS Pro ;-)


This slightly older review (April 2008) of the QNAP 209 shows it at a nice (albeit in a different class than the ReadyNAS Pro) device. What i like is it allows you to use any size of drives, so if in the future you want to use 2TB HDDs or bigger, you probably can):


I guess currently ReadyNAS, QNap and Synology are my favorites, so to balance the video's, lets have a look at what the Synology 408 can do:


Thesus is another brand that seems to develop well. This chart shows the throughput in MB/sec for a list of NAS solutions.

Upcoming advancements are SSD-powered NASses, like the Buffalo Linkstation Mini.

Off course, if you already have a hard disk, you can attach it via devices like the Addonics NAS rj45-to-usb adapter.

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