[REVIEW] Shuttle OMNINAS KD20
One of the first devices to draw our attention at this year’s Computex event was this particular NAS unit. Generally speaking, Shuttle had a lovely booth and this KD20 was one of the central pillars to draw a crowd.
Obviously skeptical, as we’ve tested plenty of 2 bay units from the veterans in the past, we couldn’t just resist inquiring about their new junior in the NAS game. 30 minutes and a full tour of the booth later, we decided we just had to test it. Both on the software side as design aesthetics this KD20 freshman had convincing skills to participate in our review exam.
Shuttle OMNINAS KD20’s key features:
- Budget-friendly NAS Server for Small Office, Workgroups and Home Use
- Elegant ID design with solid 2.5mm aluminium for better heat dissipation
- Dimensions: ca. 17 x 9 x 22.5 cm = 3.4 litres
- Ultra-quiet operation – the fan activates only under heavy load/temperature
- Two storage bays 8.9cm (3.5″)
- Supports 2x 4TB+ hard disks
- Supports reliable RAID 1 mirroring with hot-swap function
- Superior performance: up to 75/55 MB/s read/write 
- Power-saving with only 9W in standby, 15.5W in normal operation
- USB 3.0 port and card reader – with Auto-Copy and share function
- 2x USB 2.0, Gigabit LAN (RJ45)
- Accessible from Windows, Mac OS X and Linux workstation
- Accessible from local network or internet (router required)
- Anywhere data access from iOS and Android mobile devices
- Supports DLNA/iTunes media server for audio/ video streaming
- Scheduled Backup: NAS to USB, NAS to NAS
- Scheduled BT downloads without requiring a PC
- Integrated Printer Server
Design & acoustics
From the moment you unwrap it out if its silky protection cloth, you can’t just stop to look, feel and be amazed. The KD20 is truly a manufacturing piece of artwork, slick thick quality aluminum bezel from the bottom all the way up to the topside, durable non-glossy white plastic for the rear/right side and hinged door panel.
A stylish blue Front panel power button equally gives the user a non-obtrusive status notification. Constant illumination means fully active, slow fading in & out show the unit went to sleep mode. Sleep mode auto activates after 10 minutes of non-usage. Equally on the front side, you can find a USB3.0 and SD card reader slot. Note that most NAS units from the big boys pointlessly put their fastest USB3.0 ports on the backside of their devices and the slower USB2.0 in front, so this is definitely a wise decision from Shuttle.
At the rear the OMNINAS features 1x 80mm fan, which, if I may say so, is particularly silent (22Db on average). The following criteria depicts the system fan behavior depending on the internal hard disks temperature:
- up to 54 ｰC: fan is off
- 55~59 ｰC: fan rotates at low speed
- 60~61 ｰC: fan rotates at middle speed
- 62 ｰC and above: system shuts down
The system automatically shuts down when the system temperature exceeds 65 ｰC.
Equally at the back of the OMNINAS KD20 are 2x USB2.0 ports,1x Ethernet RJ45 and the power plug.
Robust, stylish 2.5 mm sandblasting aluminum combined with acrylic PMMA
- Dimensions: 170 mm (H) x 90 mm (W) x 225 mm (L) = ca. 3.44 litres
- Weight: 2.2 kg net (3.1 kg with two hard disks installed) / 2.8 kg gross
- Kensington Security Slot at the back panel (also called a K-Slot
- or Kensington lock) as a part of an anti-theft system
Dual tray 8.9cm/3.5″ storage bays with hot swap button for RAID 1
Supports two 8.9cm/3.5″ SATA hard disk drives (each up to 4TB+)
Raid support: single disk, RAID 0, RAID 1 (hot swap), JBOD
Supports hard disk spin-down timer, check/format disk, SMART information report, disk usage status report
- 1x Gigabit LAN (RJ45, rear)
- 1x USB 3.0 (standard A, front), supports Auto-Copy function
- 2x USB 2.0 (type A, rear)
All USB ports support external devices like hard disks, flash drives,
printers, digital camera, etc. Memory can be shared to local network.
- Buillt-in card reader in the front panel
- Supports SD, SDHC and SDXC flash memory cards
- Supports Auto-Copy function
Main power button with status LED, Two Omni Touch Hot Swap buttons, Reset button for admin password reset.
- Status LED: dual colour (access/error: blue/red)
- HDD1/HDD2 LEDs: dual colour (access/error: blue/red)
- USB 3.0 LED: single colour (access: blue)
- Card reader LED: single colour (access: blue)
- LAN speed LED (10/100 Mbps: green, 1000 Mbps: orange)
- LAN Activity LED (access/link: blinking green)
Read data – from NAS to workstation: up to 75 MB/s 
Write data – from workstation to NAS: up to 55 MB/s 
- Supports Static IP or Auto IP by DHCP server
- Samba Server (SMB file sharing)
- Apple File Protocol (AFP)
- Media Server/DLNA compliant
- iTunes Server
- Printer Server (supports USB printers)
- BT download without PC (scheduled)
- External device sharing (via USB or card reader)
- NTP support for scheduled time synchronization
- APPs for mobile devices
Upload and share files from iOS and Android devices.
- Quick Auto Copy for external storage (USB 3.0 or card reader to NAS)
- NAS to USB storage backup (scheduled or immediately)
- NAS to NAS backup (scheduled or immediately)
CPU / RAM
- Processor: PLX NAS 7821, Dual Core ARM 11, 2x 750 MHz
- DRAM memory size: 256 MB DDR2
- Operating System
- Embedded Linux
External 65 W AC/DC power adapter (fanless)
Input voltage: 100~240 V AC, 50~60 Hz
Input current: max. 1.6 A (1.0 A) for 100 V (240 V) input voltage
Output: 19 V DC, max. 3.42 A
- Quick Installation Guide
- AC Power adapter (65 W) with AC power cord (plug depends on region)
- Ethernet cable, ca. 150 cm
- Driver CDROM with NAS finder software and documentation
- Screws for hard disk installation
- Workstation OS: MS Windows XP SP3, Mac OS X 10.4, Apple Safari 3.0, Linux kernel 2.6.x or later
- Smart phone OS: iOS 4.2, Android 2.3 or later
- Browser: MS Internet Explorer 7.0, Firefox 3.x, Google Chrome, Apple Safari 3.0 or later
- Router for Internet connection
Standby mode: 9 W
Normal operation: 15.5 W
Maximum load: 21 W
We have to say, there are very few competitors out there who can match the energy efficiency of the KD20’s dual core ARM 11 CPU, no energy goes to waste, exactly how we like it. Job well done Shuttle!
Operating temperature range: 5~35 ｰC (41~95 ｰF)
Relative humidity range: 10~90% (non-condensing)
The OMNINAS software
The OMNINAS KD20 ships with its own native Linux flavored operating system. The system was built ground up for ease of use, and this is very visible from the startup screen. From start to finish every similar feature is clearly grouped into a category and only the essential configuration options are brought to the plate. Every regular PC/MAC user can set it up in 30 minutes or less, it really is that straightforward.
That said, an advanced features panel for business users might be something Shuttle wants to look into, this current system is excellent for home users but lacks advanced routing features, protocol configurations and notification services. Also the part where an admin pass can be reset by anybody who presses the RESET button on the back of the unit doesn’t make it particularly safe for undisclosed/confidential data.
Still, it is a home users’ dream. No other NAS OS we tested before does a setup so fast than the OMNINAS. So it would be only logical, if Shuttle decides to make a 4-bay unit in the future to create an advanced version of this current home user friendly OS, aimed towards business users.
The current OMNINAS OS consists of 8 categories:
- Settings: The main panel to show your NAS’s IP, Network name, MAC address, etc… Also the iTunes server feature can be activated here (folders are generated automatically after activation), date & time can be set here, changing the administrator’s password and firmware upgrades can be performed.
- Storage: First screen to open after running the OMNINAS finder, here you can choose your configuration: JBOD, Single disk, RAID 0 and 1. The disk tools are located here too, such as S.M.A.R.T. check, etc…
- Share: Very straightforward, you can create folders and choose if they are intended to be publicly visible or only accessible to certain registered users (private folders). Network users can be created here and both the NAS’s User List as Folder List can be viewed and modified here. Note: you can NOT create subfolders via the web manager, only mapping a folder allows creation of subfolders.
- USB: When connecting a printer to the NAS you can choose, if you wish to share it (making it a network printer). Here, you can also set if the OMNINAS should immediately copy/backup the files on either USB3.0 or SD card reader to a particular folder on your NAS.
- Backup: The backup feature is a really interesting one to make sure you retain an extra copy of your files stored on the OmniNAS. It can backup to external drives (both flash or hdd) or create a copy on a 2ndOMNINAS device or any other NAS in your network. It does, however, only work by manually selecting any folder on your KD20, assigning the frequency of backups taking place and hitting the confirm button. Strangely enough, Shuttle’s backup system is a ‘single folder per task’ thing, we’d love to see a way where users could select to backup the entire content of the OMNINAS in 1-click.
- BT Download: The Bittorrent download service is a bit out of place on this device. In essence, it’s a run-off-the-mill BT client, yet is rendered useless due to the fact that the KD20 does not allow the BT Download to be activated together with the Media Server feature.
- Share Box: A personal cloud bases feature comparable with NoIP services. When activated, it renders your NAS into your own personal server remotely accessible via your-name.omninas.net. It is particularly easy to set up and doesn’t require any advanced networking knowledge.
- Media Server: On or off, that’s the only setting it requires to change to turn that slick piece of aluminum into a very capable media-streaming box. Audio, photos and high definition video are streamed flawlessly.
One thing that’s lacking with the current firmware is the fact that the user has to manually update the firmware. Knowing that new firmware always brings a list of stability enhancements and security updates. I dare say Shuttle should put in an auto-update option, only then I would recommend this product to my non-tech savvy neighbors.
Note: The OMNINAS Finder software allows to map a folder to your “network places” under Windows, unfortunately this button stays greyed out on the OSX side of this software. Also a bit dodgy for OSX users is the fact that it will show an AFP protocol device in the network list, we were unable to connect via the AFP protocol but it worked fine over SMB + IP address. The firmware we used was v2.10.
Certain notions when operational
When we were at Computex and had our first encounter with the newly unveiled OMNINAS KD20, it wasn’t operational. Just a demo product showing the bays and design of Shuttle’s upcoming NAS entry. So we never really heard or checked it out in depth on show.
Now this is a part where the OMNINAS lacks and we would consider it a design flaw derived from insufficient testing in real life environments. First what you’ll notice is that the hard drives have to be mounted to steel brackets (comparable to what Qnap does), qualitywise they are absolutely top notch and very sturdy. But… no rubber grommets between the disk and mounting tray? Okay, no big deal at first. Then you slide the mounted trays in the KD20, which happens to have a full-surrounding metal cage where both steel trays lock into the SATAII connector at the end. When you touch one of the bays you locked in, you’ll feel that the tray is slightly loose/ill tensioned.
So what are we talking about? Well if you turn on the NAS, and you have a spinning hard disk in a metal slide tray which is slightly loose in an internal metal cage, then this all-metal affair produces a certain rattle. The same rattle like a water pump in a fishtank that touches the glass, or similar to an air compressor touching another object.
If Shuttle decided to use a special rubber coating or grommets that lock the trays into a sturdy stop, this should never have been a problem. We recommend users suffering from this to tape a patch of EPDM rubber strip (like pond liner) to the top and bottom of the slider brackets, this causes the trays to have a lot more friction. Gluing bigger silicone feet to the OMNINAS is also recommended if you wish to kill off all vibrations.
This does not apply to the idle/standby mode of this unit.
Speed & performance
We are providing you with a simple table of file read/write actions we performed and which represents a more real world model of what users actually do with their NAS devices. All results here are OSX based, Windows users can add 10-30% in speed increase when copying files larger than 50Mb from the NAS, strangely on small files the OSX transfer speed seems to dominate by the same margin. A possible reason for the speed difference could be because the OMNINAS uses the SMB protocol, the speed could be equaled when the OSX system was connected via the AFP protocol. Unfortunately our Mountain Lion couldn’t connect over AFP, whilst Shuttle does claim AFP compliancy.
Example: 51Mb per second transfer speed recorded on Mountain Lion on Raid1 gave 73Mb per second for the same scenario on Windows 7. Using a timer for this test resulted in 2.32 minutes for the Mac and 1.46 minutes on the Windows machine (to transfer an 8Gb file). Results may vary.
- A set of 100 HQ JPEG photos in folder
- A bulk of 1000 iTunes audio files
- A 4GB folder containing mixed small files and folders
- A 8GB single file archive
- A 35GB folder with 10*3.5GB files inside
- An 800MB single file archive
- A 350MB episode
First off, we’ll test this OMNINAS in JBOD mode (just a bunch of disks), a common setting for users with 2-bay units, you can start off with 1 disk and increase capacity as you go.
|Copy from NAS in MB/sec AVG – PEAK||Write to NAS in MB/Sec AVG – PEAK|
|1 (100 JPEG)||40 – 41||16 – 17.4|
|2 (1000 MP3)||40 – 41||14 – 16|
|3 (4GB Folder)||42 – 43||17 – 17.4|
|4 (8GB Archive)||42 – 43.2||17 – 17.4|
|5 (35GB Folder)||42 – 43.2||17 – 17.4|
|6 (800MB File)||42 – 43.2||17.4|
|7 (350MB File)||42 – 43.2||17.4|
|ATTO record in Mb/Sec||27.3 write at 64Kb, 61.9 read at 64Kb|
Secondly, we’ll test this OMNINAS in RAID1 mode, a common setting for users who already have 2 disks from the start and choose to mirror (for safety).
|Copy from NAS in MB/sec AVG – PEAK||Write to NAS in MB/Sec AVG – PEAK|
|1 (100 JPEG)||48 – 48.8||25 – 28.6|
|2 (1000 MP3)||42 – 48.2||24 – 30.2|
|3 (4GB Folder)||44 – 50.6||24 – 34.2|
|4 (8GB Archive)||43 – 51.9||32 – 34.6|
|5 (35GB Folder)||43 – 51.9||32 – 34.6|
|6 (800MB File)||50 – 50.8||32 – 33|
|7 (350MB File)||50 – 50.6||32 – 32.5|
|ATTO record in Mb/Sec||53.7 write at 128Kb, 90.8 read at 256Kb|
Last up, we tested the OMNINAS in RAID0 (Striping). Not that striped raid is beneficial for most NAS devices; you only gain true power of striped raid in a workstation/desktop where the gigabit cable isn’t your limiting factor.
|Copy from NAS in MB/sec AVG – PEAK||Write to NAS in MB/Sec AVG – PEAK|
|1 (100 JPEG)||48 – 49.4||27 – 29.7|
|2 (1000 MP3)||45 – 48.3||26 – 31.1|
|3 (4GB Folder)||45 – 51.1||26 – 33.1|
|4 (8GB Archive)||51 – 52.4||33 – 33.7|
|5 (35GB Folder)||43 – 50||33 – 33.7|
|6 (800MB File)||51 – 51.9||32 – 33.8|
|7 (350MB File)||51 – 51.3||32 – 33|
|ATTO record in Mb/Sec||55.6 write at 64Kb, 94.2 read at 256Kb|
Default network cables supplied by the manufacturer have been used for testing. The ‘write speeds to NAS’ are pretty consistent on both OSX and Windows, but ‘copy speeds from NAS’ vary greatly, Windows users can get anywhere from 10 up to 30% performance increase.
A small light should be shed on the way the OMNINAS KD20 defines DLNA. First off, we’ve been testing with a variety of popular formats (mkv, avi, mp3, m4a, mp4…) and depending on the codec used by the video source, most play fine and smooth. However, the way your files are getting picked up is quite different from QNAP or Synology systems where you have your default pictures/videos/music folder and can map as many custom folders as you please.
The KD20 is made to be incredibly user friendly, so what this means is: No complex mapping or advanced DLNA, you have to use their DLNA-compliant “iTunes” and “disk” folder. To make matters a bit complicated they made it look to have another folder called “iTunes” inside the folder called “disk”, so you end up with 2 of these (one is a root shortcut, the other being the genuine subfolder).
So, in short: the DLNA compliant device will not pick up your custom created folder called “music”. You have to put all you music inside the “iTunes” folder for it to be picked up properly. Also from personal testing we found the name indexing of the track names to be different when not inside the dedicated “iTunes” folder.
A second issue here is, creating a custom folder called “videos” via the internet manager is equally a no-go area. You can create your custom subfolder “videos” inside the “disk” root folder via folder mapping (under Windows, or <connect to server> under OSX). The bare essence of the KD20’s logic is based on simplicity; you put all the stuff you want to get picked up by TVs, PlayStation, Xbox and other DLNA capable devices inside that one particular “disk” folder. All the other folders you custom create are either publicly shared or privately shared network folders.
It is very difficult to judge Shuttle for a new product that’s a world’s first for a barebone/slim PC manufacturer to jump into the waters of specialized NAS manufacturers. In general, their attempt to try to compete in the 2-bay NAS segment is indeed very welcome. Fair to say the first product has a few flaws, the only notorious one being the trays’ vibration that causes a bit of a rattle if they touch the edge of the internal cage. But the rides at Disneyland weren’t flawless when the park originally opened either.
Software-wise the KD20 is definitely a fresh breath of air. It is lovely to see Shuttle actually envisioning NAS software rather than jumping on the bandwagon and clone the competitors’ operation system. Though there is little sense in putting a BT-client on a NAS server when it inhibits the DLNA to function properly, but that’s a minor issue they can quickly solve with future firmware versions. The KD20 definitely runs smoothly in every aspect.
We tend to be spoiled by the feature-overload from Synology’s DSM or QNAP’s OS, so when we say, “The OMNINAS OS is by far the easiest system for any home user to set up” it’s nothing but the truth.
The OMNINAS KD20 is labeled as a consumer/SOHO device, after rigorous testing we would rather say it wouldn’t be the fastest choice out there for SOHO deployment. Starting at 150€/170$ it definitely is a bargain for home users who dreamt of getting a NAS unit, but were previously afraid of the need to hire an IT guy to install everything. This OMNINAS really is “omni-easy” and can be installed by anybody, right from the box.