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Monday | January 23, 2017
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Synology DS216play and RT1900ac Review – Software

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Synology uses the same operating system on all of their NAS devices, DSM. We’ve watched it evolve over time and it has gone from a solid OS to the industry leading, feature packed software that it is now. It uses a desktop-like interface which runs in our browser. Synology provides help dialogues to get us up and running along with a status dialogue for the key NAS components. Shortcuts take us to important parts of the OS and menus are available for status updates, to log out and power down, etc.

A control panel allows us to control all of the main options for the NAS such as the ability to update to the latest version and Package Centre lets us add functionality to the device quickly and easily.

Key features of the DS216play are:

File server, media server (photos, music, video), media transcoding, surveillance station, client backup solution (PC and Mac), cloud sync (compatible with all major online storage including DropBox, Google Drive and OneDrive) and remote access.

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Moving on to the Router OS, Synology calls theirs Synology Router Manager (SRM). From memory, it is the first router OS we have seen that uses a desktop-like interface. Again accessed using our browser our main control panel is launched from a desktop icon and allows us to configure all the usual aspects of the router, including parental controls, network security, firmware updates and the like. Synology also takes a similar approach to their NAS devices in this OS by adding in Package Manager which allows us to add extra, advanced functionality to the device such as VPN Server, Download Manager (including BitTorrent/FTP/NZB support) and Media Server (DNLA and PS/Xbox support).

Also worthy of note is that both devices above have mobile apps for the major handset OS’s, allowing us to view content as well as monitor, manage and maintain our devices from tablets and phones if required.

Synology DS216play and RT1900ac Review – User Experience/Conclusion

Starting with the DS216play we have a NAS device which looks to offer a value-packed network storage solution. In terms of build quality, the unit feels solid, certainly not cheap or flimsy. A dual core CPU and 256mb of memory are appropriate for this level of NAS and it is good to see that Synology has provided support for USB 3.0, GB LAN and drives of up to 8Tb in capacity (16tb total storage). Speed peaks at just over 100MB/s read and 90MB/s write on the DS216play which should be more than enough for the target consumer.

As far as the setup goes, no issues to report. In fact, it was great to see a NAS look for and install the latest OS during setup.,Too often on competing products we are forced to use an outdated OS on first boot/setup, only to then spend more time downloading and updating. The entire setup process, including drive install, takes around 30minutes (at most, quicker for those who are familiar with Synology NAS) and it is pretty much idiot proof.

Once into the OS we, as always with DSM, found it to be intuitive and simple to use. The responsiveness of the OS is slightly lower on this device than higher end models however it is still perfectly acceptable. All of the main functionality is easy to find and updating the device with additional apps is a quick and simple process too. Just a few clicks. From then on it is simply a case of leaving the NAS to do its thing, accessing it to add/remove files as required. Exactly as it should be.

As for the router, and starting with the design and build quality, it is a sturdy unit and we always like routers to have a matt finish… devices like these get dusty and gloss finishes really show that. The port layout is good, the stand and wall mount options decent. We’d maybe move the reset button to the back, making it easier to access but that’s about it for functionality tweaks. One thing doesn’t sit quite right with us though and that is the overall styling. Something about the overall design, including those large square green LEDs, just makes it feel a bit dated. On the DS216play Synology get away with some of this styling given the price, spec, etc. On the RT1900ac we have a fairly high spec unit so the styling doesn’t really fit with the rest of the product experience.

As for that experience, it is a very positive one on the software front. A couple of competitors have played with giving their routers a more up to date, advanced interface but Synology has taken that to a new level. This feels like how a modern router should function. Added to that we have a solid approach to the basic functionality expected of a router and simple setup, so we can’t wait to see how Synology evolve the OS over time. That brings us to performance, where the RT1900ac provided a strong signal, easily competing with models we have tested from Linksys and Netgear in the same speed range. The router also had no issue supplying us with the full speed of our internet connection, the fastest available in our country and we noted no issues streaming multiple HD movies to different devices while other users were using the network to perform their normal browsing tasks etc.

Summary: Two quality devices which offer plenty of functionality and competitive performance in their price bracket.

Recommended Award

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Synology DS216play RT1900ac
Author Rating
4

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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