The QNAP TS-451 Turbo NAS is part of a new hardware platform for QNAP that brings a high level of performance to the small tower-based format, at a lower cost than was possible before. The four new TS-x51 towers are being promoted as home-based NAS servers, based on their high performance, low cost, and a bunch of new software functionality that is ideal for the modern home. While recent QNAP launches have leveraged the tremendous potential of 10GbE networking for the business user, the home and the SOHO market aren’t there yet. The home market is very sensitive to pricing, so the best thing to do is to re-engineer the daylights out of the surrounding infrastructure and pump a little more juice into the system controller. More power, new features – lower price?
Tag Archive: Bruce Normann
Netgear unveiled their newest wireless router on June 25th and they didn’t pull any punches with this product introduction. The Nighthawk X6 AC3200 Tri-Band WiFi Router (R8000) builds on the latest 5G Wi-Fi XStream technology from Broadcom and captures the crown for fastest consumer Wi-Fi router, if only for a while. On the surface, the most notable improvement is the addition of another 5 GHz 802.11ac band, stepping outside the dual-band architecture that has dominated the marketplace for more than five years.
If you want to give your podcasts a professional appearance, you need a good quality microphone. Forget about the tiny hole on your portable smart-whatever device, there’s a world of difference between consumer and professional-grade microphones, and the signal processing circuits that go along with them. Once you have a good microphone and preamp, you then need to digitize the signal using an Analog-to-Digital (A/D) convertor, and get that digital signal into your PC. The Spark Digital from Blue Microphones is an all-in-one solution for high quality digital audio production. All the signal processing is done inside the body of the microphone, and the interface to your computer is through one of several available serial connections. The Spark Digital supports USB 1.1/2.0, the relatively new Lightning connection, or the older Apple 30-pin interface, through the use of separate cables for each connection type. Benchmark Reviews has an audio side to it, but we’ve mostly concentrated on the output side of the equation – headphones and speakers. Some of our readers are content creators though, so it’s high time we paid some attention to the beginning of the signal chain.
Power comes in all forms, and it’s all around us. Our entertainment streams are full of power struggles, and they continue to play out on the world stage – all day, every day. My own power struggle is much more mundane. I just need to keep my cell phone charged up all day long, and sometimes for more than a day. One way to do that is to carry an external battery pack, like the one in the picture below. Benchmark Reviews has been testing a brand new power pack from industry leader ADATA, on a daily basis for several weeks now. The ADATA PV100 Power Bank is small, slim, and relatively lightweight, courtesy of the advanced Lithium Polymer battery inside. It has a capacity of 4200mAh, which is close to a median value for this type of device.
The Thecus N2310 Network Attached Storage Server is a product that is breaking new ground for the NAS market. Power to the people, NASes for the masses, whatever you want to call it, the N2310 is about driving the cost of NAS ownership down. Thankfully, Thecus recognizes that no one wants a NAS that runs slow, or one that doesn’t have modern features like mobile access. So, the N2310 is all about providing the lowest-cost, technically-acceptable solution. That’s a fine line to tread, and many companies have tripped over themselves trying to do that. Benchmark Reviews has tested quite a few NAS products in the last few years, and we’re in a good position to evaluate how well the Thecus N2310 meets its mission statement.
The QNAP TS-470 Turbo NAS is part of a new model line that brings a higher level of performance to the small tower-based format. The TS-x70U rack mount series which launched earlier this year served up the basic technology package that’s been slimmed down here, in order to fit into the smaller form factor. The new TS-x70 towers are being promoted as business-class NAS servers, based on their high performance and networking package, but QNAP includes an HDMI port and IR receiver for good measure. Also included in the base package is a 2-port GbE NIC, installed in the PCIe expansion slot. Most business users will be able to increase the network throughput of this NAS with Port Trunking, thereby making effective use of all four GbE ports on the rear panel. Those who need more bandwidth can just replace the 2-port NIC with a 10GbE model.
The ASUS PCE-AC66 802.11ac wireless PCIe adapter is currently the only wireless adapter I know of, that allows you to experience the wonders of 3-Stream IEEE 802.11ac Wi-Fi. It won’t be the last, for sure, because the gains in wireless throughput are too good to pass up. There are several significant changes in the new 802.11ac standard, and upping the maximum allowable number of spatial streams is one of them. Theoretically, eight individual streams are supported by 802.11ac, but the new chips from Broadcom top out at three streams on a single IC. That’s enough to push 1.3Gbps across the airwaves on the 5GHz Wi-Fi band, which is probably where the consumer devices will stay. There are several wireless adapters on the market that are capable of handling two streams, but right now the PCE-AC66 is alone at the top of the 802.11ac heap, with three streams and the data rates to match.
The ASUS RT-AC66U 802.11ac wireless router builds on the success of the RT-N66U model that Benchmark Reviews also tested recently. ASUS has been busy looking to the future, and the new IEEE 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard. While it’s not officially approved, it does appear to be stable, and there are products on the market already from all the serious players in wireless networking. While 802.11n was a step forward, and many of us have been appreciative of the additional legroom that the 5GHz band allows, there is still plenty of room for improvement in Wi-Fi performance. The ASUS RT-AC66U looks great sitting on the shelf, better than the majority of routers on offer today, but it’s the higher throughput and expanded signal coverage that’s going to win over most consumers.
There’s a new Ethernet in town called 10GbE, and its blazing fast. Benchmark Reviews recently gave you the inside scoop on the newest 10GbE networking hardware, and I mentioned that the first thing I did was to hook up a 10GbE NAS. Plain old Gigabit Ethernet has been holding back mid-range NAS servers for a while now. With 10GbE starting to enter the mainstream, QNAP is now making their 10GbE-capable storage products more affordable. The QNAP TS-870U-RP Turbo NAS is part of a new model line that trades off some CPU power and a couple of build features in order to lower the cost of entry. With eight 3.5″ drive bays available there is a potential for 32TB of drive space, and the Intel Celeron CPU, with 32nm Sandy Bridge architecture, has enough horsepower to make file transfers fly by. It also has two x8 PCIe slots for 10GbE NICs and these make a huge difference in real-world performance. Take a closer look with us, at the current value leader in NAS speed demons.
Everybody needs a NAS, I’m convinced. Maybe if I described what the modern NAS has become – a Private Cloud, then everyone would agree. Years ago, when Benchmark Reviews started reviewing NAS servers, they were made to sit on your network as a sort of file server and you used proprietary, vendor supplied backup software. Today, as we all know, everything is wide open. Access anything, anywhere, with any application is not just a dream anymore. Hardware is still important, but the depth and breadth of the software is becoming more of a differentiator. The ASUSTOR AS-604T NAS Network Storage Server uses a familiar hardware platform – Intel Atom and a Linux distro, but the design team didn’t stop there. There are some fundamental improvements that were ready to be solved from a slightly different perspective. Join in, as we see how this new 4-bay device compares to its competitors.
Pervasive computing has taken over as the dominant technology market for consumers. Users who want to stay productive, or merely connected while away from their desk, have found the Smartphone to be a mobile workhorse. Today, Benchmark Reviews brings you a hands-on review of Motorola’s top-line device, the DROID RAZR MAXX HD. Both the RAZR HD and RAZR MAXX HD have a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, 1 GB of RAM, and a 4.7″ 720p HD Super AMOLED display. The RAZR HD has a 2530 mAh battery, and the RAZR MAXX HD has 3300mAh of go juice inside. This is not an all-day battery; this is a 2-3 day battery, depending on your usage pattern. Let’s take a closer look at Motorola’s latest flagship phone.
Until recently, there were only two types of network switches, un-managed and managed. Today, there is a new class, called Smart Switches. A blend of the two previous extremes, they’re targeted to both corporate users and what the industry politely calls “ProSumers”. Switches aren’t reviewed by the press that often, but they are a necessary part of many home and SMB networks, so we need to look at what’s available now and then. NETGEAR is a major player in the networking market, and today Benchmark Reviews looks at the GS110T, one of the less expensive offerings in their ProSafe SmartSwitch line. It’s got enough GbE ports to future-proof most home installations, plus two fiber optic interfaces.