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Synology DiskStation DS214play review

Verdict

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

Review Date: 28 Jan 2014

Reviewed By: Stuart Andrews

Price when reviewed: £238 (£286 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
6 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
6 stars out of 6

Performance
6 stars out of 6

PCPRO A-List

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.

Author: Stuart Andrews

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User comments

And there is no noise

I have had one of these for the last two months with a pair of WD Red 3tb drives inside. It has behaved perfectly and is really quiet. So much so that I am going to keep it next to the hi-fi in the living room.

And there is now a new beta of the DSM software that provides more facilities.

By simplefruit on 28 Jan 2014

@simplefruit

Thanks, I was going to ask about the noise. For me, the lack of noise is very important.

By Grunthos on 29 Jan 2014

Sounds great!

If I wanted a 4-bay version of this, what is the equivalent model? Thanks!

By mrmmm on 30 Jan 2014

If only there was a four disk version...

@mrmmm
There isn't one, sadly. There's the 414, but that uses a different chip and has different features to this. There's some older models (i.e. not x14) that come fairly close, but don't offer all the same features either.

I looked at Synology's forum and there are quite a few people asking the same thing.

@Stuard / PCPro - do you have any connections to see if there's likely to be this same system but with four slots?

By RobbieR on 30 Jan 2014

Sounds great!

If I wanted a 4-bay version of this, what is the equivalent model? Thanks!

By mrmmm on 30 Jan 2014

Four disk version

The DS412+ is a great device.

By j9chapman on 30 Jan 2014

eSATA and USB 3 Transfer

Wondering how much transfer speeds drop (if at all!) when using external eSATA and USB 3 disks with this? Also if a USB 3 hub might be used to expand capacity further still ?

By luke20 on 30 Jan 2014

this v asustor as302t

Anyone tried both of these because they are the 2 i am considering getting, advice appreciated thanks :)

By alexby on 6 Feb 2014

this v asustor as302t

Anyone tried both of these because they are the 2 i am considering getting, advice appreciated thanks :)

By alexby on 6 Feb 2014

Mag Review Error

In the specs list in the printed review is says this device has 4 drive bays.
This is incorrect.
And annoying, as I was just about to shell out for it.
:-(

By DaveTheDrummer on 12 Feb 2014

Power Consumption?

Could anyone let me know the power consumption of the DS214play. Cheers

By Josonic on 28 Mar 2014

Power Consumption?

Could anyone let me know the power consumption of the DS214play. Cheers

By Josonic on 28 Mar 2014

Power Consumption?

Could anyone let me know the power consumption of the DS214play. Cheers

By Josonic on 28 Mar 2014

Comparison specs here

Nice little page here for comparing model specifications here http://www.synology.com/en-global/products/compare
_products

By Farrinaf on 4 Apr 2014

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