ZyXel Central Digital Media Library NSA-220 Plus
At a Glance
The ZyXel Central Digital Media Library NSA-220 Plus ($220 enclosure only) proved to be a more than capable media server, dishing out high-definition video and everything else with nary a glitch. This two-bay device is sold without drives, but it can pack up to 3TB of storage. For our tests, ZyXel sent us a unit with 320GB of RAID 1 mirrored storage. (RAID 0 and JBOD concatenation are supported as well.)
Like every network-attached storage unit in our media-drives roundup except the Windows Home Server-based Hewlett-Packard MediaSmart ex487, you configure the ZyXel using your Web browser. The settings, as with all NAS boxes, may seem a bit technical for less experienced users, but we found the ZyXel actually more friendly to use than the Synology DS209+'s (but less friendly than Iomega's products).
The NSA-220 Plus is fairly straightforward; like all the boxes in this roundup, it has USB ports for connecting additional hard drives or flash drives, or even a digital camera or printer. At the front is a button for automatically copying content from a USB device to the NAS. A nice touch: The NSA-220 Plus can let you upload content to Web services; for example, after stepping through a bunch of configuration screens, you can set up the NSA-220 Plus to automatically upload content placed in designated folders to Flickr or to YouTube. The unit ships with Memeo Autobackup software for continuous backup; like the NAS itself, the software works with PCs only, not Macs.
This model's performance in the PC World Test Center was just fair; it was among the slower devices at copying files, for example. It took 408 seconds to copy 3GB of files and folders.
Our one complaint about the NSA-220 Plus is a minor one-you must refresh the database for the iTunes server manually after you add new tunes. This in itself isn't uncommon (the Synology makes you re-index occasionally), but it led to dual entries for the server on the iTunes shared list during one re-index. You can easily remedy this by having iTunes disconnect from the older entry.
--Jon L. Jacobi and Melissa J. Perenson