This is the second installment of my review of Synology DiskStation 2-Bay Network Attached Storage DS216Play. The first portion covers on the hardware aspect of the DiskStation DS216Play and can be found here. In this second segment, I’ll be covering the initial setup of the DiskStation with DiskStation Manager (DSM) 5.2 followed by an upgrade to DSM6.0 Beta. I’ll also be doing some 4K video transcoding activities to show the DiskStation DS216Play handles the load and also share some experiences I encountered during the testing of the transcoding.
As usual, to start of with the setup of the DiskStation DS216Play, we would need to download the latest version of the Synology Assistant from Synology’s website. Although it may not be important for the Synology Assistant, do take care to ensure that you selected the correct version of the Support Page in Download Center based on the type of NAS you are setting up. You may also want to download a copy of the stable release version of the DiskStation Manager (DSM) available (DSM5.2 during the time of my writing) and safe keep it in case you need it for some emergency recovery.
After downloading the Synology Assistant setup, go through the typical installation process as shown in the few screen shots below. If you already have an older version of the Synology Assistant installed, the setup should prompt for an uninstallation to take place before installing the new version for you.
After the setup, the Synology Assistant should be able to scan and identify the Synology devices on your LAN. Of course, before your scanning, do connect and power on your new Synology NAS and connect it to your LAN.
Once you see your new DiskStation DS216Play detected, select and connect to it. Your default browser should launch the Synology Web Assistant to guide you through the next steps to install the latest DSM into your new DiskStation DS216Play.
At this stage, you could allow the Synology Web Assistant to download the latest version of DSM available or select “Manual Install” to upload the version of DSM you want to install. For this case, I went for the default option.
The whole DSM installation process takes about 10 mins to complete. After the DSM installation is completed, there are still a few more steps to create the admin account and DSM options before the DiskStation DS216Play is ready for use.
The next step of installation is to create the Disk Volumes for the DiskStation DS216Play. For this test, I’ve reused 2 x 2TB Samsung HDDs from my spares. As this is a 2Bay, I just went for the simplest Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR) option.
After creating the volume, DSM Storage Manager will also conduct the first time Parity Consistency Check which may take a while depending on the speed and size of the HDDs.
In the mean time, we can browse around DSM5.2 for the unique features of DiskStation DS216Play. Before that, it seems that I have an update to DSM that I’ll have to do before the HDDs are scanned and checked.
One of the key features of the DiskStation DS216Play is its ability to do 4K video transcoding on the fly. By default, only a “single 1080p trancoding” is enabled for the DiskStation DS216Play. To allow for 4K transcoding, you will need to go to the “Control Panel”, “General” and under “Memory Layout” section to enable the 4K video transcoding. A reboot of the DiskStation DS216Play will be required for this change to take effect.
If you like to find out more about the feature of 4K video transcoding, please do so via your friendly Google search engine. The current DSM Help has not been updated with anything on this feature at the time of my writing.
So what is Video Transcoding? Video transcoding refers to the process of converting video files originally unsupported by a media player into a compatible format and resolution. For more information about video transcoding capabilities of Synology products, you are refer to their FAQ page. To utilize the 4K video transcoding feature, the player playing the file must also be aware and able to tap on this feature. The most logical and convenient media player to test this would be Synology’s very own Video Station and DS Video combo. At the settings page of the DS Video Mobile App, (iOS version in my case), under the section of “Video Settings”, there is an option “Video Transcoding” that needs to be turned on for DS Video / Video Station to utilise the DiskStation DS216Play‘s capabilities.
For the media files to be tested, I managed to find some free contents online with the following specifications.
The playback of the 4K video files on my iPad Air was smooth and the load on the CPU and memory of the DiskStation DS216Play were pretty reasonable at less than 50% through the entire playback of the video.
If you tried looking for a DSM6 Beta version to test on the DiskStation DS216Play, I think you would have realised that DSM6 Beta has not been released for the DiskStation DS216Play. According to the DSM6 Beta site, the beta support for DiskStation DS216Play will be released by Jan 2016. However, the beta team was kind enough to provide me with a pre-beta version of the DSM6 complete with the Video Station for DSM6 Beta for my testing.
So far, I’ve been running the super slick and nice UI of DSM6 Beta for the past 2 months and everything has been well. The new DSM6 also feels more responsive compared to the current stable build of DSM5.2. Although I can only get Video Station to work on the DSM6 (the rest of the apps need to be updated to support DSM6 as well but are not ready yet), I can see the potential of where DSM6 is going.
Currently, the DiskStation DS216Play is retailing at about S$362 in Singapore during promotion period. Although some of the hardware features are no longer available on the DiskStation DS216Play compared with its predecessor the DS214Play, but the savings of more that S$150 yet still able to harness the full capability provided by DSM, should be sufficient to attract buyers to the DiskStation DS216Play as an entry level NAS and into the world Synology.