The Atom D2700 series CPUs have proved quite popular in the SMB / SOHO NAS market. We saw vendors introduce models with HDMI outputs as early as December 2011. In fact, we covered QNAP’s HDMI-equipped NAS models at CES 2012. Intel’s GPU libraries for video playback and acceleration were not stable at that time and so, vendors were unable to show the true multimedia capabilities then.
Since CES 2012, we have seen a number of vendors trying to pitch a media center running on the NAS as a value add. I have personally tested XBMC on the Thecus N4800 and came away distinctly unimpressed (a though SmallNetBuilder also seems to echo). At CES 2013, I saw an implementation of the Boxee UI on the Asustor 6-series.
QNAP is the latest to join this trend with the TS-x69 Pro and L series, both of which are based on the Atom D2700 2.13 GHz CPU and come with HDMI ports. With the XBMC app, users to directly connect the NAS unit to a TV for media playback through HDMI. As most HTPC enthusiasts already know, XBMC also allows users to also manage their video library, music playlists and create photo slideshows. We will be evaluating one of the supported units in a couple of months, and hopefully, my experience will be better than what I had with the Thecus N4800.
Pricing and Availability
The TS-x69 Pro and L series come in 2, 4, 5, 6 and 8 bay models with prices ranging from $ 479 for the 2-bay models to $ 1,099 for the 8 bay models. The XBMC Media Center feature can be downloaded in the QNAP QPKG Center.