Whereas we are inclined to assume that the majority networks can profit from the addition of a community hooked up storage gadget (aka a NAS field), not each house or workplace will get sufficient use to justify the price. One more and more well-liked NAS use for house customers is for storing and serving up private media collections to all their totally different gadgets.
For some, this implies working a Plex server to stream all their legitimately backed up or created content material (ahem) to a wise TV, cellphone, pill or PC. Previously, when you needed to stream 4K content material – particularly to a number of TVs or gadgets without delay – that meant utilizing an precise laptop as a server. However now NAS bins such because the DS418play are greater than highly effective sufficient to deal with this type of media obligation, in addition to the standard duties of backups and an entire vary of different companies.
Media-focused NAS gadgets are additionally gaining popularity to retailer self-created video and photos. Most higher-end smartphones can file 4K footage and take glorious photos. However well-liked storage choices such Google Photographs solely permits you to retailer 1080P video without cost – not 4K. Even when you pay for additional area, streaming out of your cloud storage to a TV generally is a wrestle on all however the quickest web.
And that’s the place a multimedia NAS field is useful. The DS418play means that you can retailer large quantities of video and photographs, after which simply stream all of them to any gadget in your community (and even remotely, if in case you have the bandwidth) with out impacting your web connection. It additionally supplies an additional backup choice for treasured recollections, and has a great deal of different performance inbuilt.
That stated, if you mix this enclosure with a number of NAS drives, it’s an costly community improve, so it's essential to weigh up the professionals and cons to determine if the DS418play is best for you.
Synology DS418play value & availability
The DS418play is usually offered diskless, permitting you to put in the particular drives you want. That stated, in order for you the latter pre-installed, some retailers do promote this NAS field with drives, however at a price that's usually dearer than when you did it your self.
The diskless DS418play is offered in only one variant, with 2GB of RAM – which is able to set you again $370/£450/AU$660.
If you wish to improve the reminiscence your self (a straightforward job), 4GB of appropriate RAM prices round $35/£30/AU$50.
It’s extremely really helpful to make use of NAS arduous drives – a single 4TB Seagate Ironwolf Professional drive prices $180/£120/AU$260, and you will have a minimum of two at first.
Design & options
The DS418play is constructed round a now barely dated Intel Celeron J3355 dual-core CPU, which may burst as much as 2.5GHz. Whereas the CPU does technically embody Intel Graphics, there are not any HDMI outputs. The NAS comes geared up with 2GB of RAM, plus an empty slot that may deal with a further 4GB, for a complete of 6GB. Whereas the NAS handles itself effectively with 2GB, it’s effectively well worth the effort so as to add a minimum of an additional 2GB. It’s additionally very simple – simply come out the drive bays and the RAM slot is definitely accessible.
Around the again, the 418play has twin Gigabit LAN ports, which assist each hyperlink aggregation and failover. Hyperlink aggregation is particularly helpful on this case, as a result of it implies that with the suitable community setup, you’ll be able to double the accessible bandwidth to the NAS. The 418play additionally has twin USB three.zero ports (one in entrance and one again) that can be utilized to attach exterior storage gadgets.
The 4 drive bays are tool-less and scorching swappable, and may deal with each 2.5” and three.5” drives. They’re additionally lockable with an included key, however this isn't that safe and may simply be jimmied open with a small flathead screwdriver. The NAS helps Btrfs and EXT4 file methods, and with assist for as much as 4 12TB drives it could home a large whole of 48TB whole storage.
The 418play additionally provides hardware-based AES-NI encryption, and doesn't lose any considerable efficiency with it's switched on.
The NAS field itself is sort of compact, and whereas not precisely what we'd name a looker, it'll simply mix in subsequent to your modem or router. It does use a seperate, and pretty hefty energy brick that may be a problem to cover away. On the plus aspect, included within the field are two LAN cables, so there's nothing additional you might want to purchase other than drives.
Whereas it has first rate air flow, the twin 92mm followers will be noisy below load in comparison with a single bigger fan. There may be an choice to run them in quiet mode, albeit on the expense of upper temperatures to your arduous drives.
Setup & software program
Getting the Synology DS418play up and working is useless easy. Slide in some drives, plug it in to energy and your native community, after which level a browser at http://discover.synology.com. To make it fully foolproof, included is a printed-out quickstart information with directions and diagrams.
Likelihood is, if it's linked to the web, the DS418play will wish to obtain a system replace throughout this preliminary setup, which is essential to do. These preliminary steps additionally immediate you to decide on your RAID sort, together with the Synology hybrid RAID system that optimises for storage capability whereas giving strong redundancy. It additionally makes it simple to swap out older smaller drives and change them with out having to rebuild your entire RAID array.
The Synology NAS working system is considered one of our favourites, and it's effectively laid out and simple to make use of. Whereas the aspect is essential, having an amazing person interface makes it a lot simpler to get all of the totally different options arrange and dealing. Synology even has an internet demo of its interface so you’ll be able to strive it out earlier than shopping for at https://demo.synology.com/en-global.
Except for the media focus, Synology additionally supplies an enormous variety of apps that may be downloaded and run on the NAS. After all, it backs up your computer systems and cell gadgets, can file footage from networked safety cameras, act as a private cloud, file server, and extra. Sadly although, unlock another Synology NAS bins, the DS418play can’t run digital machines, which generally is a helpful option to experiment with totally different working methods, or run software program that's not supported by the NAS.
Whereas the online interface is a superb option to handle the NAS, Synology additionally provides apps for smartphone or pill management. Slightly than placing all of the performance right into a single app, Synology has constructed greater than 10 separate ones which cowl all the pieces from file administration to taking notes. Whereas it may be mildly annoying that you just want separate apps to stream movies, music and photographs, having them seperate does imply you solely must seize these you want – and that any updates for one can’t break performance for the others. The apps themselves are typically glorious too, and effectively value exploring.
The important thing options of the DS418play all revolve round dealing with media. Most significantly, the gadget has the flexibility to transcode two 4K video streams on the similar time. Should you're questioning why precisely you would possibly wish to do this, or aren't already very into serving up your individual media, then you definitely most likely don’t want this type of function. However as 4K video content material turns into extra well-liked, it might definitely be an amazing choice to have for future-proofing.
So what precisely is transcoding? Nicely, on a NAS with out it, streamed media is shipped to the playback gadget (be TV, laptop or smartphone) which then decodes it and performs the content material. The issue (particularly with older TVs and lower-end smartphones) is that some gadgets received’t be capable to play particular codecs, or will play them poorly. Moreover, solely pretty latest mannequin TV and smartphones may even play again 4K video in any respect, and never at all times effectively.
With transcoding, the NAS itself handles the codec assist, and re-encodes (or transcodes) video content material in a format the playback gadget can truly deal with. For instance, when you shoot a 4K video in your smartphone and retailer it in your NAS, your TV may not truly be capable to play it again. With the DS418play, it could regulate the decision of that video to go well with the playback gadget – for instance, transcoding that 4K footage to 1080p. This additionally helps keep away from any scaling points, and may cut back community bandwidth use by not needing to ship your entire 4K file. That is particularly helpful when streaming to a smartphone over a 4G information connection.
The DS418play additionally helps Plex, which is by far probably the most well-liked methods to entry your media. You probably have not skilled it already, test it out at Plex.television. Plex is supported by a great deal of media gamers and sensible TVs, and provides a superb, Netflix type interface to your media. The Plex server app is on the market for obtain from the Synology App Package deal Centre, or you’ll be able to seize the very newest recordsdata immediately from the Plex web site and set up them manually.
So in different phrases, the DS418play can retailer all of your media, and fortunately stream it to all of your gadgets. With the ability to deal with two streams could possibly be a boon for bigger households, as you're not restricted to enjoying again on solely a single gadget without delay.
Efficiency & testing
We examined the Synology DS418play geared up with 2GB of RAM, utilizing 4x Seagate IronWolf Professional HDDs, and working Synology’s hybrid RAID. To emulate a typical community, we examined utilizing a Gigabit Ethernet LAN, with connections working to the NAS, a desktop laptop and Hisense sensible TV.
With a full load of 4 drives, the throughput is usually restricted by the community connection itself. That received't be an issue for commonest customers, as even two 4K streams received’t saturate the accessible bandwidth. That stated, for extra superior customers, having the choice to combination the 2 community ports collectively is nice.
The DS418play carried out effectively, and had no points streaming media to a number of gadgets without delay. Transcoding labored flawlessly too, though it took a little bit of fiddling to get Plex up and working. The DS418play fortunately maxed out our community with massive file transfers, at 108.5 MB/s studying and 109.2 MB/s writing.
As talked about, we discovered that the NAS can get a bit of noisy below load, nevertheless it does a fairly first rate job of containing the arduous drive noise contemplating its compact measurement.
The Synology DS418play is an attention-grabbing NAS field, in that it’s extremely geared in direction of lovers of 4K media however omits associated performance akin to an HDMI port. For a lot of, that’s a great factor, as they received’t be paying for options that may go unused.
However then, with that limitation, you would possibly count on Synology to have been a bit extra aggressive on the DS418play's value, particularly because it's near a yr outdated on the time of this evaluate. However regardless of the very fact the Synology OS and person interface is considered one of our favourites, at $370/£450/AU$660 the DS418play faces stiff competitors from it’s rivals.
Nonetheless, in order for you a premium media-serving expertise and solely want the particular options that this specific NAS provides, the DS418play is OK worth on the entire.