Some time ago, Thecus decided to segregate most of extra functions into external software modules, so the basic firmware doesn’t have much left. It provides Rsync, TFTP and iTunes servers, for example. The latter uses a shared folder called iTunes_music and supports MP3, M4A, WAV and other formats. You can choose tag encoding, including UTF-8.
The Web Disk service is a browser-based file manager that helps you download, upload, remove, copy and move files among the NAS’s folders.
Photo Server is used for managing photo albums. Access control is limited to creating new albums (folders with photos) in your personal directory. Viewing is permitted for everyone. Comments and other extra features are not supported.
The Data Guard backup module lets you program a schedule to launch backup jobs. You can back up local folders and iSCSI volumes to a remote Rsync server, local resources or external disks. The Thecus N2800 can work with the cloud service Amazon S3, too.
There are a few apps for Android and iOS-based gadgets to communicate with the NAS: ThecusShare, Thecus Dashboard and T-OnTheGo (iOS only). You need to install appropriate add-on modules on the NAS for them to work. The first of them provides remote access to the NAS's multimedia services but, unfortunately, it didn't work during our tests due to some compatibility issues. The Dashboard utility helps you check out the status of your NAS and enable/disable specific services. T-OnTheGo seems to be meant as a replacement for ThecusShare and can be used to view multimedia content on Apple gadgets. Incompatible video formats can be transcoded. This service isn’t stable, though, and the resolution is low at 320x180 pixels only.
The rest of software add-ons must be installed individually from the online catalogue available in the NAS’s web-interface or by downloading an add-on package from the manufacturer’s website and installing it manually. Such add-on modules may have an individual interface linked to from the NAS’s main interface page.
At the time of our writing this, the official list of add-ons included 19 packages, but some of them (data backup tools) were outdated and already replaced with integrated utilities. Among the rest of the add-ons we can note packages for working with the cloud services Dropbox and ElephantDrive, the enhanced firewall and antivirus McAfee, the media server Twonky, the file download tools Transmission and NZBGet, and an email server.
The Local Display module, available at the manufacturer’s website only, is highly interesting as it allows using the CPU-integrated graphics core. You will be able to access the default Linux graphics environment. A browser and console are the only built-in utilities but you can add more by installing XBMC and VLC modules and transform the NAS into a media player. HDMI has to be used to connect it to a TV-set because there is no other audio output available. Compatible USB controls have to be found because the current version of the module doesn’t support mobile gadgets as controllers. The Local Display module can output HD video in popular formats and supports digital TV tuners to record TV shows.
There’s no point in discussing its capabilities in detail because it has some compatibility issues with displays, but it is updated on a regular basis, so there is a high chance that the Thecus N2800 will be able to work as a full-featured media player.
At the manufacturer’s forum you can find some more modules from third-party developers, for example for popular CMSes. Thecus provides full console access via SSH in recent firmware versions. It only works for the root account and allows experienced users to implement their own NAS usage scenarios.