Thecus N4800: NAS With Multimedia
We don’t know if Thecus decided that a design team was too expensive, or that its two-year-old N4200 was just a good foundation for a new product. Either way, the company's N4800 looks almost identical to the older four-drive model. The only difference is the color of the two USB ports up front, which are now blue to show off their USB 3.0 support. Thecus covers its drive bays with a door, creating a clean-looking front panel. A pair of OLED displays relay information about drive activity, network status, current network settings (like IP and network gateway addresses), and warnings. The only other buttons accessible up front control the device's on/off status and facilitate navigation of the information display's menu system.
Around back, the N4800 comes armed with two Ethernet ports, a pair of USB 2.0 connectors, an eSATA interface, VGA output, an HDMI connector, and an audio output. There’s also a closed slot that can be used to accommodate a 10 GbE card. An interesting feature, which the N4800 shares with the N4200 and N4200PRO, is a slot for an included battery. In essence, this makes the N4800 a NAS server with an integrated uninterruptible power supply (UPS). This is a really nice feature, and we’d like more manufacturers to include it.
Thecus takes advantage of the Atom D2700’s integrated graphics capability. The company arms its N4800 with 2 GB of DDR3 memory, which is twice as much as Synology's DiskStation DS412+. This allows Thecus to market its N4800 as a media server that can be connected directly to a display device (most likely a TV) for audio and video playback.
Unfortunately, we weren't able to try this feature because it wasn't supported by the firmware yet. Regardless, we're doubtful that many folks will want to set up a NAS appliance next to a media center. It's much more probable that you'd want to stream content from a networked server tucked away in a closet somewhere over a wired or wireless network to a small HTPC.
The N4800 is configured via a browser-based graphical user interface. It’s a far cry from Synology’s DSM, and not in a good way. It’s less intuitive and looks dated. We asked Thecus about this, and company representatives told us that a new firmware, including a new version of the browser-based configuration system, is in the works. Thecus also offers a live demo of the current version.