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Asustor AS-604T NAS Preview: Worthy new competitor for QNAP and Synology?

There are quite a few players on the NAS market, but Synology and QNAP are surely the two brands to beat. There are many interesting products from other manufacturers as well, but none are as comprehensive and featyre-laden as the NAS devices from those two.

They are almost in a league of their own, but now there's a new kid on the block. Asustor, a subsidiary of ASUS and Adata that has poached former employees of QNAP, is making an attempt to join that exclusive crowd with the Asustor AS-604T.

We encountered Asustor for the first time at last year's Computex, and again at this year's CES. Today we are reviewing their first product. The Asustor AS-604T is a 4-bay NAS device that runs on an Intel Atom D2700 processor.

It is part of the 6 series, and this model is also available with two, six or eight disks. The range comes with 1GB of RAM soldered in, which you can upgrade to 3 GB if you add a 2GB SO-DIMM module. The SO-DIMM slot is easy to access by opening the NAS.

All models, except for the 2-bay AS-602T, have a display in the front that shows you the status. With the menu buttons next to it you can change some settings and access different kinds of information. It's really nice to have in case when you lose network connectivity and have to diagnose any faults.

On the back, there's one USB 3.0 port, one HDMI port, four USB 2.0 ports, two Ethernet ports and two eSATA connectors. The power supply is internal. While each hard disk sits in its own tray, it's not possible to lock them. All things considered the Asustor NAS device makes a solid impression.

It's clear that Asustor spent a lot of time and effort on its ADM (Asustor Data Master) firmware. The look and feel are quite similar to Apple's interface on its iOS products. That's certainly not a bad design choice, but it doesn't provide the same effective overview and organization as Synology's firmware. One example is that when you log in to Synology's firmware, it first displays the system info.

That said, Asustor has integrated a lot of features into the firmware which is very comprehensive and generally runs very well. If you look closely you can see rough edges here and there, but considering Asustor is a newcomer the quality of the firmware is outstanding. It includes many of the main features, and you can add functionality by installing apps. The number of apps, 86, is impressive when you take into account how young this company is. Many are pretty basic, but you'll find some very interesting ones as well.

For example, the DVBLink TV Server is available, and Plex can also be found among the apps. You can make a link with DropBox, and select which folders should and should not be synchronized. There's the iTunes Server, which works together with the remote app on iOS devices. Then there's Wordpress, SugarCRM, and Drupal. There's an app for various types of downloading, but it's too bad support for newsgroups like nzb file format is missing.

So first impressions are positive, but does it have enough to offer to give QNAP and Synology a run for their money? Read the rest of the review on Hardware.Info to find out.