This seems to be the season for NAS operating system upgrades. Recently, we took a look at Buffalo's new OS that powers its new line of TeraStations as well as the latest ReadyNAS OS6 from NETGEAR. Now, as promised in Tim's review of QNAP's TS-421, we’ll be taking a look a more in-depth look at QNAP’s QTS 4.0 (tested version was 4.01). I won’t be covering setup – Tim covered that extensively in the setup slideshow gallery on the first page of his review.
Since were we’ll be talking about the new OS’s look and feel, I’ll use a number of galleries to give you a good idea of the features of the new OS. QNAP also provides several introductory videos including this one that provides an overview of the new OS. If you’d like to poke around the new user interface on your own, QNAP conveniently provides an online live demo here.
QTS 4.0 adds many features not found in earlier versions. As shown in the screenshot above, QTS 4.0 gives you a new, fresh user interface that’s very similar to what you’ll find in the latest Synology DSM4.X OS.
You have multiple desktop spaces and can personalize those spaces with drag and drop icons and icon groupings shortcuts or by using your own wallpaper. Status icons at the top of the screen allow you to view active backup jobs or Anti-Virus scanning jobs. Here's a gallery to show you some of the features of the new UI.
QNAP Control Panel Overview
Configuration of the QNAP NAS is done from the control panel. If you click on the control panel icon on the landing page, you’ll land at this screen. As seen on the left side of the screen, all control panel configuration options are broken down into four categories: System Settings; Privilege Settings; Network Services; and Applications.
I’ll cover many of the major features in the gallery below. If your curiosity is piqued by some of the features I didn’t cover, check out the live demo linked above.
Control Panel Gallery
You’ll also note that QNAP has added a number of “Station” applications such as Photo Station, Music Station, Video Station, File Station and Download Station. If you’re thinking those names sound familiar, you’re right. If you search the web for those terms, most likely the search results will reference features in Synology’s products.
To simplify management of all of the “stations”, QNAP has included a Station Manager application that lets you easily configure each of the station from one convenient menu. I’ll touch briefly on several of the “station” features.
Photo Station – Photo Station lets you easily publish your photos. You can create slideshows and share individual photos or slideshows via email, to selected social media sites, or via a link generated by the QNAP NAS.
Music Station – This supports both personal and shared playlists. You can view your music by genre, artist, song, or browse your private collection or the Media Library folder. Support is built-in for TuneIn Radio which has over 70,000 stations and podcasts. You share music by dragging and dropping selections into the share box on the right hand side of the screen. You can share individual songs or entire albums using the same sharing UI that we saw in the Photo Station.
File Station – This replaces the previous Web File Manager. From the File Station, you can share files or folders via download links. You have a full range of file manipulation capabilities including copy, move, upload, download rename delete, open and play. You can also zip files File Station displays local computer files for uploads and downloads. Thumbnails are created for quick previews. For movies, File Station will let you add them to a queue for transcoding (still in beta) to formats compatible with smartphones and mobile devices.
Transcoding is very CPU intensive, so you’ll want to plan transcoding when the NAS won’t be terribly busy. You may also want to avoid the feature entirely on Marvell-powered models. I saw CPU spikes in the 90% range during transcoding on the Marvell-based TS-420 I used for this review.
Video Station – If you’ve always wanted to publish video from your own server, Video Station is the answer for you. You can publish your videos via email or with links. You can select videos to feature (Editor’s picks), visitors can comment on videos, and the Video Station keeps “YouTube-like” statistics on videos viewed.
The video station uses a different sharing UI than the Photo and Music stations. When you click on the share icon, it generates internal and external links as wells as HTML code for embedding into a web page based on the corresponding IP addresses, i.e., your public IP address and the internal IP address for your NAS. Unfortunately, it doesn’t automatically populate the link with your myQNAPcloud account. You can, however, manually change the external IP address to your myqnapcloud.com. I’ll cover myQNAPcloud in the next section.
Below is a gallery that contains screenshots of each of the “Stations” that I described.