The cloud in your living room

lifestyle January 13, 2018 01:00

By Paisal Chuenprasaeng
The Nation

Multimedia storage reaches new height with the compact, easily connected DiskStation DS218j



You can be your own “Greatest Showman” with the Synology DiskStation DS218j, a cost-effective cloud-storage system that turns living rooms into entertainment centres.

This is more than just entry-level, two-bay NAS (network-attached storage). It’s like a computer server without the monitor, keyboard or mouse.

You use “clients” – like a smartphone, tablet computer or notebook computer – to interact with the server and conveniently access your files when you’re away from home.

Inside is a Marvell Armada 32-bit dual-core processor running at 1.3GHz and 512 megabytes of DDR3 active memory (RAM).

The two drive bays can handle up to 24 terabytes stored information as installed on two 12-TB drives. If only one bay is used, you can plug in and play a drive of up to 16-TB.

 

The drive bays will take a 3.5-inch SATA hard drive or a 2.5-inch SATA HDD, but to use them you need a 2.5-inch disk holder and 2.5-inch SATA SSD.

There’s also an RJ45 1GbE LAN port for connecting to your home router and two USB 3.0 ports for external drives for copying files onto the NAS drives. 

Among external drives, the DS218j is good for partition formats EXT4, EXT3, FAT, NTFS, HFS and exFAT. But only EXT4 format can be used on internal drive mounted in the bays, meaning you’d better back up any precious data before plugging them in. 

The DS218j is compact in size – 165x100x225.5mm – small enough to keep still keep your desk pretty clear. Its 92x92mm fan is quiet, too, and the NAS system is eco-friendly, using only about 17.48 watts during drive access and about seven watts in hibernation mode.

 

The performance is good enough to transfer multimedia at 113MB per second and back up files at 112MB/s.

Testing the device with a Seagate IronWolf 4GB HDD, I found the NAS system easy to set up for both hardware and software. No technician needed to be called in for assistance.

You pull the cover forward to reveal the drive bays. The drive is easily attached with four screws provided. I figured the screws holding the middle and rear parts of the drive to the bay were secure enough, but you can tighten it up further secure with a provided holder for the front part of the drive.

Setting up the software was just as simple. The NAS system runs on Synology’s DiskStation Manager Version 6.1.4, a Web-based operating system tailor-made for it. This DSM features an intuitive user-interface and is just like setting up a desktop, with minimal effort to explore and manage the NAS.

 

You attach a LAN cable from router to the DS218j. Switch it on and type “diskstation: 5000” in your Web browser. A prompt appears for downloading and installing the latest version of the DSM operating system.

Once installation is complete, there’s another prompt to register for an account at Synology. The account is used to get a free QuickConnect.com account that provides the link to your DS218j online without the hassle of setting up port-forwarding rules, DDNS or other complicated network configurations.

Once you assign a QuickConnect name to your DS218j, you can access files stored on it from anywhere in the world, using a Web browser or apps (Android or iOS) provided by Synology. 

 

I registered the QuickConnect name “PaisalNAS” and can access my DS218j NAS by typing “PaisalNAS.Connect.to” as the Web address.

You can further enhance the DS218j’s abilities as a computer server with more functions (packages) from Package Centre.

There are several packages to turn the DS218j into a multimedia hub – Photo Station, Audio Station, Video Station and Media Server.

Media Server is a multimedia service where you browse and play the content on the DS218j via DLNA/UPnP home devices such as a smart TV.

Video Station is a powerful app for storing and organising movies, TV shows, home video and RV recordings. All of this can be streamed to your computer, phone, tablet or TV set. 

 

Use Audio Station to build your own music library and to stream tunes from the DS218j with your other devices, even an Apple Watch. 

Photo Station lets you share pictures and keep them organised in one central location.

File Station has a browser-based user-interface for organising and sharing everything. Files are moved and uploaded with a simple drag-and-drop. You can create file links and file requests to share large files in storage. 

File Station also allows for full content searches in case you forget a particular file’s name. In Document Viewer, you can look at files without having to download and open them in Microsoft Office or iWork.

You can install DS photo, DS audio, DS video and DS file apps on your iOS or Android phone or tablet to access them on the DS218j.

The Cloud Sync package is for seamlessly synching and sharing files between the DS218j and whatever other public cloud services you use, such as Dropbox, Baidu Cloud and Google Drive.

Download Station allows you to pull files off the Internet through the protocols BT, FTP, HTTP, NZB, Thunder, FlashGet, QQDL and eMule. It can also search for torrents directly, so you can download large files without having to keep your desktop or notebook computer running.

I found that the S218j performed very well. I could play Full HD videos stored there on my notebook computer and access and play stored music on my phone.

Synology DiskStation DS218j has a suggested retail price of Bt6,499.

- CPU: Marvell Armada 385 88F6820 32-bit dual-core 1.3GHz

- RAM: 512MB DDR3

- Drive bays: Two

- Compatible drives: 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch SATA HDD, 2.5-inch SSD

- Maximum internal capacity: 24TB

- Ports: One RJ45 aGbE LAN port, two USB 3.0 ports

- External drive file formats: EXT4, EXT3, FAT, NTFS, HFS+, exFAT

- Dimensions: 165x100x225.5mm 

- Weight without hard drive: 0.88 kilogram