Packaging and Bundle
The Synology DiskStation DS415play
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Installation and Set-up
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Once installation and setup is complete we land on the home screen. This is in effect the ‘desktop’ and has a familiar Windows like UI experience which features taskbar, icons/shortcuts and a main menu (start) button. All Synology NAS solutions operate using DSM from the single-bay home user device to the 100 bay + enterprise solutions which is rather impressive.
On the desktop are the default icons which include File Station, Control Panel and Package Centre. Along the top taskbar we have a ‘start’ button on the left and over on the right, a search function, user account menu, display options as well as a notification system and (when appropriate) an icon informing us that there is a USB device currently connected. In the bottom right corner we have our quick access status indicators. Here we can see over health status of the system, the current CPU/memory usage as well as bandwidth use.
The start button, situated top left opens a screen which includes any installed apps.
Looking next to the Control Panel, we have a large array of options available from user admin, firewalls, IP blocks, Traffic Control and a whole lot more. All aspects of the NAS and the way it functions are user configurable, though novice users will find that very few of the options need tweaking out of the box.We can also check for and install OS updates from here, basically an automated process where we approve, let it install and then the unit reboots.
The Package Center, is Synology’s ‘App Store’ here we can find packages to download and install on our NAS to improve functionality, these are categorised into helpful categories. We can also see which apps we have installed and make sure we are running the most up-to-date packages. This allows full control of just what is available on your NAS without bloating the initial install.
With this being a media focused NAS we have some key apps for those purposes, all provided by free by Synology (with other free alternatives available from other developers via the package centre). One of the key apps is File Station, this is a file browser and allows us to trawl our NAS at a directory level. It also allows the user to access the files on another device to easily upload them to the NAS. As well as the usual file control abilities rename, delete, cut/copy/paste we can compress files into .zip archives directly on the NAS and create share file links that allow users who don’t have credentials for the DiskStation to download the file.
Audio Station allows management of the music library stored on the DiskStation and like VideoStation and PhotoStation allows us to view our content on other devices such as TVs, phones and tablets (or give external access to items such as our photos to family members). Key to this model of course is that the Video Station features hardware transcoding to maximise playback quality and compatibility.
Given that those who need a NAS probably have a multitude of devices Synology have a full suite of PC and mobile apps (available for iOS, Android and Windows Phone). These include media players for streaming audio and video content as well as File Station which is used to browse files direct and finally there is DSFinder to manage our device.
Looking first at the build quality and design of the Synology DS415play we have a unit which immediately impresses. It has a solid chassis which will blend in nicely in most environments while still offering that gloss front panel to add a bit of style. The ability to install or remove drives in seconds is always appreciated and the port layout is decent. Ideally we would have liked to see one of the USB 3.0 ports on the front for easy access but that is just a minor issue.
Inside the hardware chosen is also impressive. The dual core Atom and media/encryption hardware are high end parts for a NAS and the support for such large amounts of storage as well as the 1GB of DDR3 keep the high end components coming.
Performance is good too. DSM runs very well on this configuration, never lagging and always responsive. We were able to stream media at 1080p without issue and the rated speeds of 120/100MB/s should be more than enough for most uses.
Of course the real strength of Synology NAS devices has always been the software and there is no change there. DSM is an exceptional operating system for network storage. The best around. It allows us to have a powerful media system (including iTunes server), run a print server, mail server, offer cloud storage/sharing and offer backup functionality (including Time Machine)… with so much more too.
This great functionality mixed with good performance, decent build quality, a 2-year warranty and a competitive price win the Synology DS415play our Gold Award.