Buffalo’s TeraStation NVR Solid Despite Setup Setbacks

Is Buffalo America TeraStation TS5200DS NVR the best solution for your installation jobs? Security industry expert Robert D. Grossman answers in the latest SSI’s Bench Test.

A funny thing happened on the way to our moving past the analog camera. It hasn’t happened yet.

Much like the VHS tape that hung in there far longer than anyone predicted, analog cameras are alive and well, selling in huge quantities with beautiful (albeit low resolution) images at even prettier price points. While their low cost is certainly one of the reasons for their continued health, their simplicity is clearly another. Plug cameras into a DVR, add a monitor and power, and you pretty much have instant security for the small business or higher-end homeowner. Sure, the HDcctv Alliance has promised similar simplicity while increasing the quality of the image, but it has never really caught on (see “HDcctv Back to the Future or Ahead to the Past”). So, until IP video can be simplified, analog reigns supreme in certain market segments.

Austin, Texas-based Buffalo America aims to change that. According to its marketing material, “Buffalo’s TeraStation 5200 NVR is an easy-to-use, turnkey network video recording appliance that offers redundant managed storage and recording. It provides high compatibility with the Axis Camera Companion for seamless, drop-in installation for small business and home surveillance environments. TeraStation 5200 NVR supports plug-and-play, one-click setup with high performance architecture, ideal for recording and archiving video footage from up to 16 Axis network cameras.” For this bench test we received a TS5200DS, a Buffalo BSL-POE-G2105U five-port gigabit PoE network switch, and two “Axis M1054 network cameras. The idea was that we could put Buffalo’s marketing material to the test, setting up a plug-and-play system, simulating minimal IP knowledge and expertise, and see how we fared.

Buffalo TeraStation TS5200DS NVR NAS

SPECS

  • A feature-rich network attached storage (NAS) box that IT professionals will love
  • An inexpensive way to record IP cameras with fault-tolerant redundant hard drives

PROS

  • Solid construction
  • Tremendous feature set
  • Great performance and easy expansion

CONS

  • Poor documentation
  • Unreliable unless set up properly
  • Misses the mark for the intended audience

Throughout this review, context is important. While we will touch on the capabilities of the TS5200DS as they relate to the wider market, our primary objective was to see how the unit performs in the market segment to which it is addressed.

Construction
The TS5200DS (the name just kind of rolls off of your tongue) is impressively built. It is essentially a small enclosure with a motherboard, power supply, and two removable drive enclosures. A large (92mm) variable speed fan is mounted on the back of the cabinet and it is quite effective at drawing air through the front door (there’s a washable/ replaceable air filter in the door), across the hard drives, and over the motherboard. The fan barely ran during our tests, and the unit was near silent even with the fan running. While the internal temperatures were roughly 32° higher than ambient temperature, the unit is built for a fairly high operating range (41-95° F), and the three-year warranty reflects this construction. If humans are comfortable in the chosen environment, the TS5200DS should be fine as well.

While a sticker on the back of the unit cautions the user not to remove the cover, there is a CR2032 coin-cell battery inside that will presumably need to get changed at some point. Surprisingly, Buffalo has chosen to tape the battery into the locking battery holder rather than just trusting the clips to hold it. Given that the internal temperature is over 100° when operating in a 70° environment, this battery is sure to ultimately become a sticky mess when it comes time to change it. Other than this small (and decidedly future) issue, this unit earns our highest praise for construction.

The TS5200DS is available in 2TB, 4TB and 8TB capacities, and can be configured as RAID 0 (uses the full hard drive capacity, increases speed, but a single drive failure will result in the loss of all data), RAID 1 (halves the capacity but provides redundancy), and JBOD (uses the full capacity at standard speed but at lower risk of complete data loss). Our 2TB test unit shipped configured as RAID 1, allowing us 1TB of unformatted storage capacity (899.9GB formatted). This is, in our opinion, the desired configuration for security CCTV applications.

About the Author

Contact:

Bob Grossman has held positions in all areas of the security industry — giving him plenty of opportunity to learn from his mistakes! Bob has authored articles for SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION and other publications and has spoken at numerous industry events both internationally and in the United States. Currently the founder and president of R. Grossman and Associates, a consulting firm, he divides his time between project-based work for large integrated systems and product consulting for a variety of cutting-edge manufacturers. For more information, visit www.tech-answers.com.

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