Buffalo Technology was one of the first companies to come out with a 802.11ac router. Their LinkStation and TerraStation lineup of NAS units is also well regarded. We dropped by their CES suite to check out their latest offerings.

While most of the products were the standard upgrades (for example, the AirStation Extreme AC 1900 WXR1900DHP is the 3x3 802.11ac solution combined with a N600 solution that every other router manufacturer has added to their lineup and the travel router, WMR 433, is a 802.11ac variant), two products caught my eye. The first was the MiniStation Air HDD, a wireless portable hard drive with a USB 3.0 interface. The unit provides up to 1 TB of storage space for mobile devices while sporting a battery capable of 10 hours of operation on a single charge. The product is very similar to the Seagate Wireless Plus that was introduced last year. The differentiation provided by the Buffalo unit is the fact that there is a dedicated port to charge up a mobile device using the internal battery (i.e, the unit can act as a power bank too).

Buffalo also had their NAS lineup on display. The important announcement in that area was the tie-up with Axis for a NVR device. Based on a 2-bay Marvell SoC sporting NAS, the unit takes advantage of the AXIS Camera Companion (ACC) software to record the feeds automatically to the NAS. With this software, the user doesn't even need to login into the Buffalo NAS. The company claims that recording up to eight 1 MP streams can be guaranteed without any storage bottlenecks (this includes viewing those recorded streams simultaneously). More number of streams are supported (i.e, there is no separate video surveillance license necessary to add new cameras). The downside is that the management part through ACC is available only for AXIS cameras (but, ACC comes free with any AXIS camera purchase).

DELA - High Resolution Audio NAS

Buffalo also had on display a new branded solution in the NAS space for audiophiles. Under the DELA brand, Buffalo has been selling audiophile-grade NAS units in Japan for some time now. Apparently, they are popular enough in Japan to warrant their introduction in the US market. Put simply, these are passively cooled NAS units with a heavy aluminum metal chassis.

Optimized firmware eliminates network jitter so that the audio data is streamed over the network without packet loss to the digital receiver. Personally, I don't believe that the way digital bits are transported to the receiver has any bearing on audio quality (since the digital audio data is most probably going to be buffered in the receiver's local memory before playback anyway), but many audiophiles have been spending thousands of dollars on such equipment, and Buffalo is getting ready to cater to them with the DELA brand.

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  • Impulses - Sunday, January 12, 2014 - link

    Is there a reason audiophiles sit closer to their oh so noisy NAS than the rest of us? Do 192khz/24-bit files sound so much sweeter if you're no more than 5 ft from the electrons of the media holding them? I mean, are they putting SSD into these things to top it all off? That'd be the ultimate overkill, SSD for streaming audio...

    I'll stick to the Chromecast in the living room and sadly I'll have to bear the barely there hum of my idle desktop over my Beyer headphones when music's playing at my desk. In all seriousness, I could kinda see the point of a passively cooled unit in Japan, tiny housing arrangements and all... Seems kinda ridiculous elsewhere unless you live in a shoebox in NYC or you're putting it in a studio. Guess that could be one niche market.
    Reply
  • fteoath64 - Monday, January 13, 2014 - link

    " Do 192khz/24-bit files sound so much sweeter if you're no more than 5 ft from the electrons". Yes they DO!. Using a tube amp and even mid-end audiophile speakers, the difference is astonishing for people with good ears (not many have them). It can only be appreciated by people who loved audio and have the ears to detect the subtle changes in color and warmth of the music. It is like a tube amp sounds really good after an hour when it is completely warmed up. Reply
  • krotchy - Monday, January 13, 2014 - link

    Comments like this make me wish more people understood electronics at some level. You have made two completely differing statements in your comparison that is just plain wrong.

    First, Tube Amps sound differently after they have warmed up, and guess what, if you run the signal through a digitizer and perform an FFT, you can tell the difference between a cold and warm Tube Amp.

    However as Impulses mentioned, a digital signal must be buffered before being output. This is a simple fact of any serial protocol. Reducing jitter on the digital signal makes 0 difference, as it will be clocked out of the A/D using the clock associated with the signal processing device not the clock of the NAS. The digital signal just has to come in without dropping packets, which is really easy to do in most systems, even marginally designed systems. You take the signal coming out of this NAS compared to any other source device and I 100% guarantee you that you cannot tell the difference between the two signals once you digitize it and take an FFT.

    You may think your ears are good, but I assure you my DSP Engineer is better.
    Reply
  • chaos215bar2 - Monday, January 13, 2014 - link

    You missed the /s. Reply

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