Synology Releases DS216j Entry-Level 2-Bay NAS

If you haven’t invested in a NAS for your home yet, then it might be time to do so as it can make your digital life so much easier by being a centralized storage and media centre. Synology officially released the newest model of theirs and it might be the perfect unit as your first one. The new DS216j is built around Marvell’s Armada 385 dual-core 1 GHz CPU and it comes with 512MB DDR3 memory onboard.

The DiskStation DS216j is able to deliver a great performance despite the low-sounding specifications and can deliver an outstanding read/write performance of 112.75 MB/s in reading and over 97.6 MB/s in writing when connecting from a Windows environment. The system is equipped with a single RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet port and two USB 3.0 ports for high-speed storage and other USB devices .

The DS216j is focused on home and personal use where it allows you to build your own personal cloud or served as their centralised multimedia server effortlessly. Backup and sync files across NAS’, PCs, and mobile devices as easy as a few clicks to initialize a job after which everything runs on its own. You can also stream files to DLNA media players and devices, Chromecast, or Airplay with ease as well as attach USB speakers for direct playback from the NAS itself.

The DS216j is a budget and entry-level unit which shows in a few places. These aren’t bad things, just things that can cut production costs and provide you with a cheaper product such as fewer connection ports and the not having ejectable drive bays. Users can also adjust the LED indicators brightness based on four different settings as well as schedule it on demand.

Synology’s DiskStation DS216j is now available worldwide and comes with an RRP of just £126.00 including VAT or €145.00 excluding VAT. The DS216j NAS is backed with a 2-year limited warranty.

Synology DiskStation DS215+ 2-Bay NAS and All-In-One Server Review

Introduction


Last month I had the pleasure to take a look at the Synology DS715 [review here] 2-bay NAS and today I continue with Synology’s second recently released NAS, the Synology DiskStation DS215+.

The DS215+ is an all-in-one 2-bay NAS server that offers high performance while staying energy-efficient and providing a full set of business features. The dual-core CPU is powerful enough to handle multi-tasking applications and can help small and medium businesses to centralize their backups, protect critical assets, and share files quickly and efficiently – and that on a budget.

Inside the DiskStation DS215+, we find an Annapurna AL-212 dual core ARM processor with 1.4GHz with floating point unit and hardware encryption engine and 1GB DDR3 memory.

There are plenty of connection options on the DS215+ starting with the two Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 ports that allow you to set all modes of failover and link aggregation, including IEEE 802.3ad. The unit has two USB 3.0 ports for external drives and other devices as well as an eSATA port. Readers familiar with my reviews will know that I love it when they add the eSATA port as it is my preferred method of attaching external storage as it doesn’t have the same latency as USB does.

The hardware encryption engine coupled with the other improvements allow this unit to deliver twice the performance over the predecessor when dealing with encrypted storage.

Synology’s drive trays in these units are awesome and allow for a speedy setup as well as maintenance. The screw and tool-less design is as simple to use as pulling the sides off, inserting the drive and putting them back on. The trays are also lockable which is another bonus. You don’t eject them by accident and no false friend runs off with your drives that easy.

The software part is well covered by Synology’s DiskStation Manager (DSM), an operating system that has won a lot of rewards, and all well deserved. It comes with most basic and used features as standard and you’ll most likely find what is missing there in the add-on section. DSM is real easy to use and has great multi-tasking support.

One of the great features of DSM is the File station, a fast and secure way for sharing and managing your files stored on the DS215+. It has built-in FTP and email clients and allows drag and drop of files from both Windows and Mac OS systems. Mobile systems can do the same with the DS file app. HTTPS, SSL/TLS encryption, and link expiry dates also ensure file sharing over the Internet stays secure.

The basic file sharing on your network isn’t any problem for the DS215+ either as it supports it all. SMB2, FTP, NFS, WbDAV, windows AD and LDAP – you’ll find it all. Network recycle bin is also available on both AFP and CIFS shares.

The DS215+ allows for seamless account integration thanks to the User Home feature that automatically creates user folders to minimize effort while the Windows ACL support allows admins to fine-tune access controls and set up privileges through a familiar interface.

This is truly an all-in-one server as it is labeled with everything it supports. From file storage and media streaming over Mail servers and VPN servers, the DS215+ lets you do it all. It can also work as a print server with your USB printers and share them over the network as well as act as DNS server, Directory Server, RADIUS Server, DHCP Server, and Log Center. All that in one tiny box.

With the support of Windows AD, LDAP, and Domain Trust, DS215+ enables seamless account integration. The User Home feature can automatically create a “home” folder for every user account to minimize the administrator’s effort in repeatedly creating “home” folders for all accounts. Windows ACL support on DS215+ allows IT administrators to fine-tune access controls and set up privileges to files and folders on DS215+ through the familiar Windows user interface. With compatibility for major protocols, DS215+ can eliminate server configuration overhead and enhance IT administrators’ efficiency.

 

Backup and storage works in many ways and one very useful is the personal cloud the DS215+ allows you to set up. The Cloud Station allows you to sync files between devices in online and offline mode. The Cloud Station can remember up to 32 historical versions, encrypts the traffic, and can also sync between different NAS stations as well as mobile devices.

Security isn’t just well covered in the Cloud Station and Drives with the AES 256-bit encryption, the DS215+ also supports Antivirus and basic network security. You can also enable two-step verification for your users.

All of Synology’s mobile apps work great with this device, may they be DS note, DS audio, DS video, DS photo+, DS cloud, DS file, DS download, and DS cam. Everything right at your fingertips and on your smartphone or tablet.

 

That is a lot of functionality and features in one little device and one that saves both the environment and your wallet thanks to the low power consumption. When the HDDs hibernate, the DS215+ consumes just about 9W and less than 21 W when accessed. Thinking small can pay off in the long run.

Zotac CI321Nano Barebones System Review

 

Introduction


Today we are taking a look at one of Zotac’s latest ZBOX CI321 nano barebones system that is packing a dual-core 2961Y CPU. Something that makes this CI321 nano stand out of the crowd is that it carries dual Gigabit LAN and is completely silent with its passively cooled design. With the inclusion of an onboard IR receiver, this makes it an interesting option for a silent HTPC. With it being a barebones kit, you can use some memory or 2.5″ drives that you have on hand to keep the final build costs down. There has been a lot of growth in the mini PC market and Zotac has been in it for a long time with its ZBOX lineup.

Specifications
  • Name: ZBOX CI321 nano
  • CPU: Intel Celeron 2961Y (2C/2T, 1.10 GHz, 22nm, 6W)
  • RAM: User Supplied – We tested with Crucial Ballistix 2x4GB DDR3-1600 9-9-9-24 1T 1.35v 
  • SSD: User Supplied – Crucial MX200 SSD 250GB
  • GPU: Integrated – Intel HD Graphics
  • LAN: dual 10/100/1000/Gigabit Base T
  • WLAN: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Built-in Bluetooth V4.0
  • I/O: 4x USB3.0, 1x USB 2.0 , 1x HDMI, 1x DisplayPort, Headphone-out, Microphone in, 2x 1Gb LAN
  • OS: Supplied Barebones, Windows 10 preview used in this review
  • Warranty: 1 Year
  • Price: $149.99

Retail Packaging

Printed materials that the CI321 comes with

The hardware that you get with the CI321 allows you to mount the unit via the VESA mount of a monitor or TV. You also get an optical audio adapter for use with a Toslink connection, a dual band WiFi antenna, and screws to mount your 2.5″ SSD or HDD.

 

CPU-Z

 

GPU-Z

QNAP Turbo Station TS-431 4-Bay SOHO NAS Review

Introduction


I loved what the QNAPs TS-x31 series sports right from the first time that I heard of it. It just sounded like the perfect SOHO device for people who want a lot of features, easy setup, simple maintenance and a reasonable price.

Today I’m taking a closer look at the QNAP TurboNAS TS-431 4-bay Personal Cloud Storage for Home and SOHO users. It features an ARM Cortex A9 1.2GHz dual-core processor that delivers performance enough for multitasking, creating your personal cloud for digital notes, and multimedia streaming via DLNA & AirPlay.

With the TS-431 you can build a private cloud-based notebook and share it with friends and colleagues with Notes Station and Qnotes mobile App. It allows you to easily organize and manage files and backup tasks in one centralized location and synchronize files between computers, laptops, tablets, phones and other devices. You can archive, manage, watch and share your media collections with the dedicated Photo Station, Video Station and Music Station apps as well as enjoy all these moments on the big screen via DLNA and AirPlay streaming.

That is all pretty much default for QNAP devices, just as the 24/7 surveillance center you can create for your home or small office. The CPU in the TS-431 also allows you to transcode videos offline and enjoy smooth video streaming even when your network connection or playback possibilities are restricted.

The Freescale ARM Cortex-A9 dual-core CPU runs at 1.2GHz and gives the NAS a great performance ratio. It can provide transfer speeds up to 110MB/s reading and 80MB/s at writing. Maybe you need to increase your data safety to prevent unauthorized access to the files, well QNAP has that covered too with full NAS volume encryption with speeds of over 30MB/s with AES-256 bit.

The network connectivity on this device is safeguarded with dual Gigabit LAN and support for the latest 802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi adapters. It further features three USB 3.0 ports and one eSATA for attaching high-speed external storage. The LAN ports support multiple port-trunking modes, allowing you to set up link aggregation to increase data transmission capabilities, as well as failover and dual IP for continuous system operation. The supported port-trunking modes include: Balance-rr (Round-Robin), Active Backup, Balance XOR, Broadcast, IEEE 802.3ad, Balance-tlb (Adaptive Transmit Load Balancing) and Balance-alb (Adaptive Load Balancing).

QNAPs operating system is better than ever and it keeps improving. The ‘intelligent’ desktop allows you to find the desired functions quickly and it allows you to create shortcuts of your choice for even quicker access. You can monitor the NAS’ vitals, install new function or change in your user setup with just a few clicks. Automated backup function can be set to kick in as soon as recognized devices are connected, creating backups to and from your drives and NAS, this includes rsync, QNAP’s NetBack Replicator and works equally well with Windows and Mac OS X Time Machine systems.

The new myQNAPcloud allows you to setup your NAS even easier and quicker than before. Just connect and power on the NAS and go to the URL from the sticker either manually or by scanning the QR-Code. Enter the key (partially whitened in the above image) and you’ll have your NAS setup in a couple of minutes, ready to use. Thumbs up to QNAP, the system works like a charm. You will of course need a network where the NAS gets it IP automatically and an internet connection. Don’t worry if you don’t, the old-fashioned way to initialize it works just as well as it always has.

The cross-platform file-sharing covers all sides with SMB/CIFS, NFS, and AFP protocols for sharing across Windows, Mac and Linux/UNIX. Data, logs and ISO image of CDs and DVDs can be centrally stored in the TS-431 and protected by an integrated antivirus solution. You can even manage your files via the internet by use of the File Station. It brings conventional desktop styled file operation to web browsers, allowing you to easily upload, download and manage your files no matter where you are, as long as you got a connection via LAN or the internet. It even supports file extraction, smart search as well as sharing specific files with friends and family via unique URLs.

One of the key aspects of this device is the capabilities for your private cloud. I’ve mentioned some functions above, but most of all it gives you a lot more space without a monthly cost. It also eliminates security concerns you might have by using public cloud services. The TS-431 is ready to establish a secure and large-capacity private cloud just for you and the myQNAPcloud service allows remote access without any tricky setups and router configurations.