Synology DS214Play 2-bay NAS Review

Final Thoughts


Pricing

With prices starting at £267 inc VAT in the UK, the DS214Play is certainly not the cheapest 2-bay system on the market, however there are a number of advantages for going for a system such as this. One of the key factors that pushes this system in front of the other 2-bay options is its ability to transcode media on-the-fly for mobile devices whilst giving quicker processing times for image thumbnails. For anyone looking to have a NAS that is geared more towards serving media including mobiles devices, then this system is more than like going to tick all the right boxes.

Overview

The 2-bay NAS market is to say the least in a close battle all the time. With all the major vendors trying to get not only a budget system to the market, but also a high performance model at the same time; the podiums are constantly changing when we look at who is best for each area of interest – such as cost versus performance. It’s certainly clear that this system is not going to win the budget award as it is a long way from the cheapest price, however there are a number of other areas where it does stand out over some other 2-bay options.

The biggest area of significance here has got to be the on-the-fly transcoding that is given from Intel’s Evansport CPU. There is a huge demand for systems that are able to transcode video for viewing on mobile devices and having this feature puts the DS214Play in a good position when it comes to short-listing. Whilst this is all and well for whating content on mobile devices, there is something that I feel has been left out here and this could (in my eyes) make this unit much more desirable. What I am referring to is having the option to connect the system to a television [for example] and giving a media centre environment to directly browse and watch content that is stored on the NAS. Asustor for example already have media playback functions available on their systems and if Synology was to have included a HDMI port on the back for connection to a high-definition TV, then this system has the potential to be one of the best out there.

Looking around the rest of the system, the inclusion of an SD card slot on the front and the improved thumbnail processing is ideal for any budding photographer who wants to get their photos backed up quickly and the one touch copy is just the thing to have on hand. The sleek black looks are also a welcomed sight, whilst the DS214Se is white and requires a more hands on approach to installing drives, the styling here takes on that of the DS414 that I looked at earlier in the year which I feel is far more user friendly.

When I try to position this system in the market, its closest rival that I can see has got to be the N2650 from the guys over at Thecus. Both systems have similar levels of performance, both offer tool-free installation and both are good on the media front. Where Thecus take the edge in my eyes is not on the price front, but more on the availability of a HDMI port for connection to a TV. If Synology were to revise the specification of the DS214Play to include media playback functions on the big-screen, then there would be little separating the two within the market. Whilst this is a stumbling block for some potential buyers, the DS214Play has certainly got the upper hand when it comes to media transcoding.

Pros:

  • Easy to use GUI
  • Tool-free installation
  • On-the-fly hardware video transcoding
  • Low power consumption
  • SD card slot on front

Cons:

  • No HDMI port to give media centre capability

“A 2-bay system that has the ability to transcode video files on-the-fly has been long awaited by Synology’s fans and they have been given just that. With media content at the heart of this system, adding media playback functions and connectivity such as a HDMI port would make this system a winner for me.”

Thanks to Synology for providing us with this review sample.