Synol­ogy DiskS­ta­tion 216play

Tech Advisor - - REVIEWS -

The DS216­play is a net­work stor­age de­vice aimed at home users. Synol­ogy didn’t re­lease a two-bay ‘play’ model in 2014, so this can be con­sid­ered the suc­ces­sor to the DS214­play, but some might think it’s an upgrade from the DS415­play. The head­line fea­ture is 4K transcod­ing, but aside from this and lower power con­sump­tion there’s not much to tempt any­one to upgrade.

Price

Cheaper than the 214play, you can buy the DS216­play for £190 from Ama­zon. This is around £40 less than the two-year-old model, and as you’ll see below, there are rea­sons for this. We had ex­pected it to be even cheaper, but most re­tail­ers are sell­ing the NAS for more than Synol­ogy’s list price of £186: there are no dis­counts to be found yet.

Re­mem­ber that this is just the en­clo­sure price. Ex­pect to pay around £400 in to­tal if you want a pair of 3TB NAS-spe­cific disks as well.

Fea­tures

A NAS doesn’t have to be good look­ing, but given that the 216play is aimed at home en­ter­tain­ment geeks, it’s a shame Synol­ogy hasn’t made more of an ef­fort with the de­sign. The matt plas­tic is in­of­fen­sive, but it’s no ob­ject of de­sire. If any­thing the box feels flimsy and even cheap com­pared to other DiskS­ta­tions.

There’s no re­mov­able front panel or quick-re­lease drive bays. There isn’t even a USB port or SD slot on the front, so there’s no easy copy­ing of photo from your cam­era, or videos from a USB stick. At the back is a pair of USBs, only one of which is USB 3.0. You won’t find eSATA or any­thing else. Be­yond that’s there’s the ex­pected Gi­ga­bit Eth­er­net. Un­like cer­tain other en­ter­tain­men­to­ri­ented NAS drives, there’s no HDMI out­put for di­rect con­nec­tion to your TV, nor any au­dio out­puts. In essence, this is a box de­signed to be in­stalled out of sight and used ex­clu­sively over the net­work.

Setup

Setup is a breeze, es­pe­cially com­pared to older DiskS­ta­tions. While we’ve moaned about the lack of slide-out disk trays, it takes only a cou­ple of min­utes to in­stall each disk, then two small screws hold the slide-on side cover in place. You then con­nect the power sup­ply and the net­work ca­ble to your router. And let’s face it, you’re prob­a­bly not go­ing to open it up again un­less one of your disks fail.

Once pow­ered up, you head to find.synol­ogy.com from your lap­top or PC. This au­to­mat­i­cally searches your net­work and once the DiskS­ta­tion is found, you just click a but­ton to in­stall the lat­est ver­sion of DiskS­ta­tion Man­ager.

Less than 10 min­utes later you can start us­ing it. The old man­ual down­load­ing and in­stalling process is au­to­mated and with the on­line dis­cov­ery app, you don’t even have to in­stall Synol­ogy As­sis­tant, al­though you can still do that if you have prob­lems.

The new Quick­Con­nect ser­vice makes it easy to set up an ID and ac­cess your DiskS­ta­tion re­motely with­out the has­sle of port for­ward­ing and us­ing a dy­namic DNS ser­vice. Of course, trans­fer speeds will de­pend mainly on your broad­band up­load speed and your mo­bile net­work (or Wi-Fi).

DSM 5.2

We’re not go­ing to cover DiskS­ta­tion Man­ager in depth here, but for those un­fa­mil­iar this is the soft­ware that runs on all DiskS­ta­tions. It’s more of a fully-fledged op­er­at­ing sys­tem th­ese days and while some oth­ers (QNAP) come close, it’s widely re­garded as the best. It’s also worth not­ing that DSM 6.0 isn’t far away and should bring new fea­tures for the 216play, such as off­line transcod­ing.

There are plenty of fea­tures baked in, and plenty of na­tive and third-party apps to down­load ei­ther through the on-board app store

The new Quick­Con­nect ser­vice makes it easy to set up an ID and ac­cess your DiskS­ta­tion re­motely with­out the has­sle of port for­ward­ing

(Pack­age Cen­ter) or di­rectly from the app mak­ers.

Synol­ogy’s own apps don’t all have won­der­ful, slick in­ter­faces but they get the job done. There are mo­bile apps as well. DS File lets you browse your fold­ers and ac­cess com­pat­i­ble con­tent such as pho­tos and videos, but there’s sep­a­rate DS photo, DS au­dio and DS video apps for each me­dia type as well. There’s also DS cloud as you can use your DiskS­ta­tion as a per­sonal cloud stor­age server, an

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