Network attached storage can offer all sorts of advantages over regular external hard drives. For starters, you have the ability to easily access its stored data on any computer that is connected to your home network. Thanks to configurations that allow for multiple hard drives, you can also added capacity, as well as data redundancy in case something should go awry.
If you are having a hard time deciding whether you want a NAS with smaller 2.5-inch drives or you would prefer one that takes full-size 3.5-inch hard drives, you're in luck. The Thecus N0503 ComboNAS swings both ways... so to speak.
Features at a Glance
Easily one of the biggest selling features of the Thecus N0503 is that it can be configured to accept up to five 2.5" drives or up to three 3.5" drives. This is quite a bit of added versatility.
Running through the spec sheet, we also learn that it is powered by an Intel Atom processor (just like your favorite netbooks) and can support RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, and JBOD for added data security. Other highlights include an AJAX web-based interface, uPnP AV streaming, a built-in photo album, and a download manager that can handle HTTP, FTP, BT, or eMule.
What's in the Box?
Opening up the retail box of the Thecus N0503 ComboNAS, you obviously won't find any included hard drives. You'll have to supply those on your own.
What you will find is the NAS itself, a pre-installed cage for the 2.5-inch drives, a series of sliders for 3.5-inch drives, an Ethernet cable, power supply, installation CD, and supporting documentation.
Built-In Cage for Five 2.5" Drives
As mentioned, there is a cage that comes pre-installed in the Thecus N0503 and this is designed to accommodate up to five 2.5-inch hard drives. In this cage, you get five separate trays, each of which can lock into place after you've screwed in the hard drive.
The build quality appears to be more than reasonable, giving you a lightweight aluminum structure on which to mount your spinning platters of wonderful data. The body of the NAS itself also appears to be made from aluminum, making for a look that borders somewhere between retro and industrial.
Giving you an almost server-like experience, the hard drive area is aptly protected by a swinging door on the front. Below this, you'll see the small LCD panel, as well as a series of indicator lights and basic buttons for navigating through the rudimentary menu.