Synology Releases DiskStation DS216+ 2-Bay NAS

Synology officially released the DiskStation DS216+ which is the direct successor to the DS215+ and a NAS unit that I’m sure a lot of people have been looking forward to. The new DiskStation DS216+ has it all and looks like it is a solid server with great features.

The DiskStation DS216+ is built with an Intel Celeron N3050 dual-core CPU that has built-in AES-NI hardware encryption engine among other things. The CPU is backed by 1GB DDR3 memory and the system can provide excellent encrypted data transfer performance at over 113 MB/s reading and 109 MB/s writing. Another really cool feature is the real-time capabilities to transcode H.264 4K Ultra HD video. The DS216+ can handle one channel 4K transcoding or three channels with Full-HD transcoding at the same time. When coupled with the ability to utilize DVB-T/DVB-S sticks and the record function, you got everything you need in relation to media in one place. The Video, Audio, and Photo Stations offer all the media features you need and it also supports DLNA and AirPlay, and even Bluetooth and wireless transmission with the use of dongles.

The DiskStation DS216+ has most things when it comes to hardware and software. The LEDs on the front have an adjustable brightness as well as schedule abilities. There is a USB 3.0 port with one-touch copy button, two USB 2.0 ports, a Gigabit Ethernet connection, and a feature that I personally love to see, an eSATA port. The drives are hot-swappable and feature Synology’s screw and tool-less installation. The 92mm cooling fan located at the rear should also make sure that the NAS works as flawless under controlled temperatures and does so as silent as possible.

Besides the full setup of backup, restore, cloud, and other features that we love from Synology’s DiskStation Manager operating system, the DS216+ also introduces the Btrfs file system. Btrfs has advantages over EXT4 and comes with built-in data integrity check, more flexible Shared Folder/User Quota systems, advanced snapshot technology with a customizable backup schedule that allows for up to 64 copies of shared folder backups, and file or folder level data restoration. The Cloud Station with file versioning also reduces the storage consumption down to half when compared with the Ext4 file system.

So whether you need a full set of media capabilities, an easy backup solution, or business features such as Windows AD and LDAP, Windows ACL, Mail Server, VPN server, or Radius server, the DiskStation DS216+ has you covered. It is backed by a 2-year warranty and comes with an MSRP of £237.00 including VAT or €275.00 excluding VAT.

Feature Highlights

  • Dual-core CPU with AES-NI hardware encryption engine
  • Encryption performance at over 113 MB/s reading, 109 MB/s writing
  • Advanced Btrfs file system with built-in data integrity check
  • Single H.264 4K or triple Full HD video transcoding on the fly
  • Hot-swappable drive tray design for easy installation & maintenance
  • Brightness-adjustable front LED with schedule control
  • A versatile storage server for small offices

We can also spot a new feature within the product photos of this DS216+ NAS and while it is a feature that isn’t present yet, it should be on future models. At the first glance, the DS216+ looks like the previous  Synology 2-bay models. It does have the new power button and one-touch copy button with built-in LED feature, but there’s another thing hiding in plain sight on the front. There is an unused and covered slot on the front that judging from the size could be an SD Card slot. We’ve already seen Synology add an SD card slot to their RT1900ac router, so it wouldn’t be far-fetched that we could see that added to the NAS lineup too.

Synology DiskStation DS216play 2-Bay Multimedia-Optimized NAS Review

Introduction


Synology’s 2-bay play series has been very popular among users due to its great features and functionality coupled with a low asking price. Today I’m taking a closer look at the newest model in this series, the DS216play, a NAS featuring a powerful dual-core CPU with hardware H.264 and H.265 transcoding support and floating point unit.

Let us dive right into the hardware on this little NAS. The CPU is an STM STiH412 32-bit dual-core processor with 1.5GHz and floating point unit. The hardware transcoding engine is capable of the H.265 (HEVC), MPEG-4 Part 2, MPEG-2, and VC-1 codecs and it can work with a maximum resolution of up to 4K (3840 x 2160 pixels) at up to 30 frames per second. It allows you to transcode 4K videos to 1080p, making them suitable for all screens and bandwidths whether they are local media players or remote mobile devices. In addition, you can also stream original 4K resolution videos to your multimedia player or 4K TV within a local network environment. The CPU is backed by 1GB DDR3 memory which should be sufficient for its area of operation.

With those hardware specifications, the DS216play is able to deliver an average speed of 107 MB/s when reading and 91 MB/s when writing on a RAID 1 configuration from a Windows environment. The built-in floating-point unit enhances the overall capability of the main CPU and it is particularly advantageous in speeding up thumbnail creations when uploading a lot of photos or videos.

One of the main features of a NAS like this is to stream media files to a whole lot of devices. The DS216play can act as a DLNA certified DMS (Digital Media Server), allowing you to stream multimedia contents, such as music, photos, and videos, to DLNA compliant devices. It can also stream to pretty much any other device such as mobile phones and tablets, TVs, and stereos. Synology also offers support for Samsung TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast and Roku players.

Three of the official and very popular apps on the DS216play are the Photo Station, Video Station, and Audio Station. They provide a streamlined and sleek interface that turn your NAS into an entertainment hub. The Video Station allows you to browse and manage all your movies, TV shows, and home videos and build up a smart video library with those. The Photo Station is the same, just for still pictures, and it also allows you to create web albums or blogs to record and share the exciting moments of your lives with others. The Audio Station can create your own audio streaming service where you can build a personal music center and stream music directly from your Synology NAS to other devices. You can rate your songs and sort music into smart playlists according to the rating. Plus, sharing a playlist with others is as simple as creating a sharing link and sending it to your friends.

Thanks to Synology’s QuickConnect, you can easily access all the NAS functions no matter where in the world you are, as long as the NAS and you both have an internet connection. It is a very simple DDNS service that takes care of all the settings for you. All you need to do is log in. This allows you to create your own personal cloud service where you don’t need to rely on costly monthly plans or storage limits. You can still connect your NAS to public cloud offerings such as Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, Box, hubiC, and Baidu Cloud as well as Amazon S3, Glacier cloud service, Microsoft Azure, SFR, and hicloud.

The Synology DS216play supports plenty of backup methods for both Windows and Mac users with the use of Cloud Station. Whenever you modify a file, the changes are backed up to the DS216play automatically. Mac OS users can also use Apple Time Machine. Backups to and from another Synology NAS is also supported, just as rsync servers, external drives, and cloud services can be used as backup targets.

Speaking of external devices, the DS216play has one USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0 port for external storage devices, printers, or wireless adapters. There is one Gigabit Ethernet port for the network connectivty and the entire unit is cooled by a 92mm fan.

So far I have talked a lot about the media capabilities on the DS216play NAS, but we shouldn’t forget that NAS stands for network attached storage. The DS216play naturally supports everything it needs to here from Samba (SMB2) for Windows and Mac OS users as well as AFP and NFS. Should you use WebDAV for your credentials, then that is supported too. AFP, CIFS, File Station and WebDAV also support network recycle bins for extra safety. An FTP service is also included by default, one of the oldest and most universal file transfer protocls around.

The File Station is a fast and secure feature for sharing and managing your files stored on DS216play. Just drag and drop to upload data from Mac or PC. Advanced filters make it easy to search for documents, photos, or videos and it also has a built-in FTP and email client. IT lets you organize and share files through an advanced web application and you can even share files and folders with others by simply sending a link. Files can be reached on mobile devices via the companion mobile app DS file. Both HTTPS and SSL/TLS encryption are featured for secure transfers and you can even set link expiry dates.

Synology built the DS216play in the well-known two-piece chassis, this time in black. It is simple yet effective with the only downside of not having front-accessible drive bays. On the other hand, home users are the intended market for a NAS like this and it is not like they’re switching and swapping drives all the time.

Feature Highlights

  • 4K Ultra HD video transcoding on the fly
  • Powerful dual-core CPU with H.265 codec support
  • 107.7 MB/s Reading, 91.47 MB/s Writing
  • DLNA certified for media streaming
  • Powered by Synology DiskStation Manager (DSM)

Packaging and Accessories

The Synology DiskStation DS216play comes in a simple brown box with a sticker highlighting the NAS model and its features.

The physical characteristics are detailed a little bit more on the rear where it also lists the hardware specifications.

Inside the box, next to the NAS itself, we find a power cable and AC/DC converter, a LAN cable, screws for the drives and the chassis itself as well as a Quick Installation Guide to get you going.