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Synology DiskStation DS216play NAS review

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Synology DS216 play
  • Synology DS216 play
  • Synology DS216play
  • Synology DS216play
  • Synology DS216play
  • Synology DS216play
  • Synology DS216play
  • Synology DS216play
  • Synology DS216play

Summary

Our Score:

8

Pros

  • Video transcoding and streaming to mobile devices
  • Simple hardware installation
  • Good file-transfer performance
  • Excellent operating system with attractive UI

Cons

  • More expensive than other two-bay NAS units
  • Picky over 4K video format support

Key Features

  • On-the-fly video transcoding with 4K support
  • Synology Hybrid Raid
  • RAID0, 1, JBOD disk configurations
  • Synology DiskStation Manager 5.2
  • Manufacturer: Synology
  • Review Price: £209.00

What is the Synology Diskstation DS216play?

The DS216play is a two-bay NAS featuring on-the-fly transcoding of stored video files to mobile devices and set-top boxes such as Google’s Chromecast, with one of the highlights being support for 4K Ultra HD formats. This being a Synology NAS, it also supports the company’s slickly designed and feature-packed DiskStation Manager NAS operating system.

Synology DS216play – Design and Connectivity

The physical design and appearance of Synology’s NAS units doesn’t change greatly between iterations. The DS216play follows the design of the company’s previous two-bay units, with a matte-black plastic chassis featuring the firm’s signature Synology logo etched into both sides.

At the rear is a single Gigabit Ethernet port, a USB 3.0 port and a USB 2.0 port for connecting additional storage. Although these are useful additions, for long-term use it’s recommended that you rely on the internal storage. Next to the ports sits the power connector – used with an external power pack in conjunction with a standard IEC kettle lead – and an 80mm exhaust fan that can be set to run in either cool or quiet mode.

Synology DS216play

There are four LEDs at the front, indicating the status of the network connection, each of the two disks and the unit itself. A large power button sits at the bottom. The unit’s dimensions are fairly average for a two-bay NAS, and in keeping with other Synology two-bay NAS units.

Synology uses the same method here for fitting hard disks as with its other two-bay NAS models. Half the casing slides away from the front, revealing two pairs of SATA power and data connectors behind shelves on which would sit 3.5-inch hard disks. Each disk is secured in place with rubber mounting grommets for noise dampening, using the bundled screws. There are also optional 2.5-inch adapters.

Once the disks are securely inserted, you can pop the casing back together, plug in an Ethernet cable and the power adapter, and the DS216play is ready to roll.

Synology DS216play – Specifications

NAS units normally don’t need a particularly powerful CPU, unless they’re designed for enterprise use, with hundreds of clients and separate access permissions. But transcoding 4K video is no small task for any computer processor, which explains the specification bump between the DS216play and the vanilla DS216, which lacks this feature.

The DS216play is home to a 32-bit dual-core 1.5GHz ARM processor from STMicroelectronics, while the DS216 has a dual-core 1.3GHz Marvell chip.

Synology DS216play

It’s easy to use a Synology NAS as a torrent client, which is useful for long, slow downloads that would otherwise require you to leave your PC switched on. The CPU speed affects how many concurrent torrent downloads can be set to run. The DS216play supports 50, quite a jump from the 30 in the DS216, and less in other units.

Synology lists a number of supported video formats: H.265 (HEVC), MPEG4, MPEG2 and VC-1, with 4K and lower resolutions supported. The maximum listed storage capacity is 16TB, using a pair of 8TB hard disks.

toboev

January 10, 2016, 10:13 pm

I've just got the 215j version. So far still getting to grips with its many features. It is much quieter than previous NAS (WD Worldbook), and goes to sleep when it can. However I would much prefer the black of the Play version over the drab yet eye-catching (in a bad way) beige of the j version.

One annoying thing, left to its own devices it sets up the single hard drive I installed as SHR (Synology Hybrid RAID). So if I ever buy that second disk, all I get is redundancy, no extra storage space. Given that many users will be like me, using this as a backup, which would you rather have for you second £100 hard disk, a backup of your backup, or double your backup space?

If you go down the 'custom' setup route instead of the default, it does give you choices. But the choices are in terms of RAID numbers, not in terms of usage scenarios, so you need to be something of an expert before you start.

Darkedge

March 26, 2016, 10:07 am

actually the Synology Hybrid RAID is the default setting but when you add a second disk it will give you a choice on how to initialise it, so you can have it as extra space

toboev

March 26, 2016, 10:26 am

Thanks for that! So does that mean that if you did accept the default SHR setup when you installed the 1st disk, later when you get round to installing a second disk SHR has the ability to configure it as either of redundancy or doubling storage capacity?

If so, and you opted for double capacity, if one disk dies, do you lose everything, or just the files on the dead drive?

Darkedge

March 27, 2016, 8:41 am

yes you should have no problem doing either. The synologys are quite good at appearing user friendly then when you get to it being rather opaque but the result is usually simple-ish

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