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Synology DiskStation DS218play 2-Bay Multimedia NAS Review

Introduction


Today we’re taking a closer look at Synology‘s DiskStation DS218play which is an entry-level NAS, but one with advanced functionality and extra hardware power. A quad-core processor, DDR4 memory, and hardware transcoding engine are just some of the advantages you’ll get with this device. As the name also suggests, it’s great as your personal multimedia library and streamer.

Hardware

Synology built the DS218play around the Realtek RTD1296 processor. This is a 64-bit quad-core with a clock speed of 1.4GHz. The NAS doesn’t just feature a modern CPU; it also has the memory to match. The DS218play comes with 1GB DDR4 memory.

The processor isn’t just good because of its cores and 64-bit architecture; it also comes with hardware transcoding engine and hardware encryption engine. The encryption engine makes dealing with password protected shares a lot faster while the transcoding engine will help boost up the media performance. It can handle 10-bit H.265 (HEVC), MPEG-4 Part 2, MPEG-2, VC-1 at a maximum resolution of 4K (4096 x 2160) and a maximum frame rate per second (FPS) of 30. We’ll get more into this feature on the next page.

There are two USB 3.0 ports on the rear of the unit next to the RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet port. Those are the available connections. It isn’t a whole lot, but it is enough for most home setups.

Device Design

The DiskStation DS218play comes in a classic Synology chassis. We’ve seen it before in black as well as in white. While the basic chassis stays the same, there are some internal improvements. Overall, it is a simple and efficient design which allows a lot of capacity with a small footprint.

There is no external drive access on these devices, but that’s not necessarily bad. After all, how often do you switch drives in your NAS at home? That said, it’s easily opened when you need to access the drives and once open, the drives are easily accessed and removed/replaced. The two-part chassis can also be locked together by use of a Kensington lock. That doesn’t just protect the device itself from being removed/stolen, but it also protects you from someone tampering with the internals or running away with the installed drives.

Performance and Efficiency

Synology’s DS218play isn’t large, but it delivers. It comes with a network performance of 112MB/s at reading and writing operations. At the same time, the NAS consumes as little as 5.15W when drives hibernate and less than 17W when drives are being accessed. Of course, power consumption and performance will depend on the drives you install. That’s a given.

The NAS isn’t just power efficient; it’s also silent. Considering that it is designed to be the centre for your multimedia collection, that’s a good thing. The 92mm fan keeps the NAS  properly cooled while not generating more than 19.9 dBA noise with the tested HDDs installed.

Easy Setup and Connection from Anywhere

The setup of your new DS218play only takes about 10 minutes and doesn’t require any expert knowledge from the user. You only need to supply a few names and a password. There are a couple of other settings, but most of them are pre-set to the best option, allowing you to move through the setup in a breeze.

Powerful Media Features

Synology’s operating system, DSM, is packed with great media features and they are features for which this NAS is built. The DS218play is great as a storage container for all your media files while being able to stream them to almost any device.

The Video Station lets you easily manage and organise your movies, TV shows, and home videos. It can stream to other computers, smartphones, media players. The Photo Station is about the same, but for your digital photo collection. It will let you effectively organise and share photos and albums. You can add labels, comments, and more to each photo while the system automatically generates thumbnail views. The Audio Station is easily forgotten among its siblings, but it shouldn’t be. It isn’t just a powerful tool; it can be your personal music centre. Audio Station can intelligently sort and organise your audio files as well as play and stream them. Audio Station also supports lossless formats, ensuring pristine audio quality. Besides Synology’s Station apps, you also have the options to install the ever popular Plex server and DLNA/UPnP server.

Overall, the DS218play will stream to almost any device, including Samsung TVs, Roku, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, and smartphones running Android, iOS, and Windows Mobile.

Hardware Specifications

Software Specifications

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Bohs Hansen

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