Synology DiskStation DS214play review

28 Jan 2014

A superb NAS with superfast performance and a huge raft of features, made even better by top-notch cloud capabilities and a reasonable price

Price when reviewed: 
286more
5

The DS214play is one of the fastest two-bay NAS drives we've reviewed, but it isn't merely speed that gains this NAS drive an A-List place. In keeping with its predecessors, it's also hugely versatile, with excellent media-streaming capabilities and some of the best cloud features around.

It's well designed and solidly built, packing a lot of power into a compact, relatively stylish unit. With an eSATA, one USB 2 and two USB 3 ports, connectivity is excellent, and there's even an SD card slot. Best of all, it's affordable: a DS214play fully stocked with 6TB of storage can be built for less than £450.

Synology DiskStation DS214play

The reasons to be cheerful start as soon as you begin installing the drives. The drive cover pulls off, the caddies unlock and slide out, and a clip-on assembly means you can mount a drive without touching a screwdriver. The browser-based setup routine works flawlessly, downloading new firmware for you, and there's zero pain in configuring the RAID and initialising your storage space.

It isn't always this easy to use. The UI is excellent for advanced users, with features such as multiple windows and multitasking that you won't find on most NAS devices, but there's little hand-holding for novices, and navigating the control panels and settings takes a little getting used to.

It's a great media device, however, acting as a DLNA media server without any problems. Thanks to a hardware transcoding engine, it can convert 1080p video from one format to another on the fly (although we found some files that wouldn't play on an iPad from the NAS). In addition, Synology provides enough add-on modules for the DS214play to moonlight as a mail server, IP security camera station, VPN or web server.

Synology DiskStation DS214play

It's the cloud features that swing it for us, though. Synology Cloud Station works just like Dropbox: drop a file into the Cloud Station folder on your PC and it's replicated within seconds on the NAS, with any changes synchronising within two seconds across a local network.

Different apps for Android, iOS and Windows Phone take you directly to the music, photo, video and file servers on the DS214play, with files playing back flawlessly (providing your connection is up to it). Finally, Synology's QuickConnect service provides a simple address to enter in the apps or browser, so you don't have to set up port forwarding.

The DS214play is fast. With a 1.6GHz dual-core Atom processor and 1GB of RAM, and twin Seagate 1TB drives installed, we saw average read rates of 103MB/sec and average write speeds of 91MB/sec - a good deal faster than our previous A-List incmubent, the DS213air, which hit top speeds of 68MB/sec and 71MB/sec when reading and writing large files. Even in our backup test, the Synology hit an average of 87MB/sec. Our conclusion? This is a champion NAS in almost every respect.

Details

Price ex VAT £238
Price inc VAT £286
Overall rating 6
Performance 6
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 6

Basic specifications

Capacity N/A
RAID capability yes
Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec

Services

FTP server? yes
UPnP media server? yes
Other media servers DLNA, iTunes, Logitech Squeeze Server
Print server? yes
Web hosting? yes
BitTorrent client? yes
Timed power-down/startup? yes
HIbernate on idle? yes

Connections

Ethernet ports 1
USB connection? yes
eSATA interface yes

Power consumption

Idle power consumption 14W
Peak power consumption 27W

Physical

Dimensions 108 x 165 x 233mm (WDH)

Security and administration

Kensington lock slot? yes
Admin support for users yes
Admin support for groups yes
Admin support for disk quotas yes
Email alerts yes