Is Synology DS418Play The Best In the Market? | Review
While we have a tendency to feel that most networks can take advantage of the addition of a network attached storage device (aka a NAS box), don’t assume all home or office are certain to get enough use to justify the price. One ever more popular NAS use for home users is for storing and serving up personal media collections to all or any their different devices.
For some, this implies owning a Plex server to stream almost all their legitimately supported or created content (ahem) to a good TV, phone, tablet or PC. During the past, if you wished to stream 4K content – especially to multiple TVs or devices simultaneously – that meant using a genuine computer as a server. However now NAS boxes including the DS418play are a lot more than powerful enough to take care of this sort of media duty, along with the traditional tasks of backups and a complete selection of other services.
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Media-focused NAS devices are also more popular to store self-created video and pictures. Most higher-end smartphones can record 4K footage and take excellent pictures. But popular storage options such Google Photos only enables you to store 1080P video free of charge – not 4K. Even when you purchase extra space, streaming from your own cloud storage to a TV could be a struggle on all however the quickest internet.
And that’s in which a multimedia NAS box will come in handy. The DS418play permits you to store large sums of video and photos, and easily stream all of them to any device on your own network (as well as remotely, in case you have the bandwidth) without impacting your web connection. It also has an extra backup option for important memories, and has plenty of other functionality built-in.
Having said that, when you incorporate this enclosure with several NAS drives, it really is a pricey network upgrade, so it is important to think about the professionals and cons to determine if the DS418play is right for you personally.
Synology DS418play price & availability
The DS418play is normally sold diskless, enabling you to install the precise drives you desire. Having said that, if you wish the latter pre-installed, some retailers do sell this NAS box with drives, but for a price that’s often more costly than if you achieved it yourself.
The diskless DS418play comes in only one variant, with 2GB of RAM – that will cost you $370/£450/AU$660.
If you would like to upgrade the memory yourself (a straightforward job), 4GB of suitable RAM costs around $35/£30/AU$50.
It’s strongly suggested to use NAS hard disks – an individual 4TB Seagate Ironwolf Pro drive costs $180/£120/AU$260, and you may want at least two initially.
- CPU: Intel Celeron J3355 (dual-core)
- RAM: 2GB (upgradeable to 6GB)
- Drive Bays: 4 x 3.5”/2.5” (hot swappable)
- Max Capacity: 48TB (12TB x 4)
- LAN ports: 2 x RJ-45 1GbE
- USB 3.0 ports: 1 x front, 1 x rear
- Hardware storage encryption: Yes
- Hardware encoding: Yes, up to 4K (4,096 x 2,160 pixels)
- Dimensions: 166 x 199 x 223 mm
- Weight: 2.23 kg
- Warranty: 2 years
Design & features
The DS418play is made around a now slightly dated Intel Celeron J3355 dual-core CPU, that may burst up to 2.5GHz. As the CPU does technically include Intel Graphics, there are no HDMI outputs. The NAS comes with 2GB of RAM, plus a clear slot that may handle yet another 4GB, for a complete of 6GB. As the NAS handles itself well with 2GB, it’s really worth the effort to include at least a supplementary 2GB. It’s also super easy – just pop out the drive bays and the RAM slot is easy to get at.
Across the back, the 418play has dual Gigabit LAN ports, which support both link aggregation and failover. Link aggregation is particularly useful in cases like this, because it signifies that with the proper network setup, you can double the available bandwidth to the NAS. The 418play also offers dual USB 3.0 ports (one in the front and one back) that works extremely well to hook up external storage devices.
The four drive bays are tool-less and hot swappable, and will handle both 2.5” and 3.5” drives. Also, they are lockable with an included key, but this is not that secure and may easily be jimmied open with a tiny flathead screwdriver. The NAS supports Btrfs and EXT4 file systems, and with support for four 12TB drives it could house an enormous total of 48TB total storage.
The 418play offers hardware-based AES-NI encryption, and doesn’t lose any appreciable performance with it’s started up.
The NAS box itself is pretty compact, even though not accurately what we’d call a looker, it’ll easily merge next to your modem or router. It can use a seperate, and fairly hefty power brick which can be a challenge to cover up away. On the plus side, contained in the box are two LAN cables, so there is nothing extra you have to buy apart from drives.
Although it has decent ventilation, the dual 92mm fans could be noisy under load in comparison to an individual larger fan. There can be an substitute for run them in quiet mode, albeit at the trouble of higher temperatures for your hard disks.
Setup & software
Obtaining the Synology DS418play ready to go is dead simple. Slide in a few drives, plug it directly into power as well as your local network, and point a browser at http://find.synology.com. To create it completely foolproof, included is a printed-out quickstart guide with instructions and diagrams.
Chances are, whether it’s linked to the web, the DS418play would want to download something update in this initial setup, which is vital that you do. These initial steps also prompt you to select your RAID type, like the Synology hybrid RAID system that optimises for storage capacity while giving solid redundancy. In addition, it makes it simple to swap out older smaller drives and replace them and never have to rebuild the complete RAID array.
The Synology NAS operating-system is among our favourites, and it’s really well organized and simple to use. As the hardware side is important, having an excellent user interface helps it be much better to get all the several features create and working. Synology even comes with an online demo of its interface in order to give it a try before buying at https://demo.synology.com/en-global.
Apart from the media focus, Synology also offers a huge number of software which can be downloaded and operate on the NAS. Of course, it backs up your computers and cellular devices, can record footage from networked security camera systems, act as an individual cloud, file server, and more. Sadly though, unlock various other Synology NAS boxes, the DS418play can’t run virtual machines, which is often a helpful way to test out different os’s, or run software that isn’t supported by the NAS.
As the web interface is a fantastic way to control the NAS, Synology offers software for smartphone or tablet control. Instead of putting all of the functionality right into a single app, Synology has generated a lot more than 10 separate kinds which cover from file management to taking notes. Although it could be mildly annoying that you’ll require separate software to stream videos, music and photos, having them seperate does mean you merely have to grab those you will need – and that any updates for just one can’t break functionality for others. The applications themselves are usually excellent too, and really worth exploring.
The key top features of the DS418play all revolve around handling media. Most of all, the device has the capacity to transcode two 4K video streams concurrently. If you are wondering why precisely you might like to do this, or aren’t already very into serving up your own media, you then probably don’t need this sort of feature. But as 4K video content becomes popular, it could be described as a great substitute for have for future-proofing.
So what accurately is transcoding? Well, on a NAS without it, streamed media is delivered to the playback device (be a TV, computer or smartphone) which in turn decodes it and plays this content. The problem (especially with older TVs and lower-end smartphones) is that some devices won’t have the ability to play specific codecs, or will play them poorly. Additionally, only fairly recent model TV and smartphones may also play back 4K video at all, rather than always well.
With transcoding, the NAS itself handles the codec support, and re-encodes (or transcodes) video content in a format the playback device can in fact handle. For example, in the event that you shoot a 4K video on your own smartphone and store it on your own NAS, your TV may not actually have the ability to play it back. With the DS418play, it could change the resolution of this video to match the playback device – for instance, transcoding that 4K footage to 1080p. This also helps avoid any scaling issues, and will reduce network bandwidth use by not having to send the complete 4K file. That is especially helpful when streaming to a smartphone over a 4G data connection.
The DS418play also supports Plex, which is by far just about the most popular methods to access your media. When you have not experienced it already, take a look at Plex.tv. Plex is supported by plenty of media players and smart TVs, and provides a fantastic, Netflix style interface to your media. The Plex server software is designed for download from the Synology App Package Centre, or you can grab the latest files directly from the Plex website and install them manually.
So basically, the DS418play can store your media, and happily stream it to your entire devices. Having the capacity to handle two streams is actually a boon for larger households, as you are not limited by playing back on only an individual device at once.
Adding extra RAM is really worth doing, and is really as simple as taking right out the drives and slotting your brand-new stick in.
Performance & testing
We tested the Synology DS418play built with 2GB of RAM, using 4x Seagate IronWolf Pro HDDs, and running Synology’s hybrid RAID. To emulate an average network, we tested by using a Gigabit Ethernet LAN, with connections running to the NAS, a pc and Hisense smart TV.
With a complete load of four drives, the throughput is mainly tied to the network connection itself. That wont be a problem for some typical users, as even two 4K streams won’t saturate the available bandwidth. Having said that, for more complex users, having the substitute for aggregate both network ports together is excellent.
The DS418play performed well, and had no issues streaming media to multiple devices simultaneously. Transcoding worked flawlessly too, though it took a lttle bit of fiddling to get Plex ready to go. The DS418play happily maxed out our network with large file transfers, at 108.5 MB/s reading and 109.2 MB/s writing.
As mentioned, we discovered that the NAS will get just a little noisy under load, nonetheless it does a fairly decent job of containing the hard disk drive noise considering its compact size.
The DS418play can run a Plex media server, that is a fantastic way to gain access to your individual media collection.
The Synology DS418play can be an interesting NAS box, for the reason that it’s highly intended for lovers of 4K media but omits related functionality such as for example an HDMI port. For most, that’s a very important thing, because they won’t be spending money on features that may go unused.
But, with that limitation, you may expect Synology to have already been somewhat more competitive on the DS418play’s price, especially since it’s near a year old during this review. But even though the Synology OS and interface is among our favourites, at $370/£450/AU$660 the DS418play faces stiff competition from it’s rivals.
Still, if you need reduced media-serving experience and only need the precise features that particular NAS of