What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Tue, 11 Jan 2011, 4:00pm

Synology DS211J

Tested at £160
100100
5

Some people will be put off at the first step – but for others this could be the perfect media-friendly NAS device

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For

  • Choose your own hard disks
  • great value
  • great range of media-friendly features, including excellent compatibility

Against

  • Need to install hard disks yourself
  • setup takes time and occasionally confuses

Essentially an external hard disk that connects directly to your router, a NAS can store all of your music, movie and photo files, and make them available to every device on your network.

The Synology's main flaw is also one of its greatest strengths: it doesn't come pre-installed with any hard disks.

The strength of this is that it you can buy hard disks of a capacity and price to suit you. The flaw is that you have to install them.

Effort has gone into making this as painless as possible, but some people just won't like it.

Set up can be a bit of a chore
It's not a quick and simple device to set up once you've slotted in the disks, either.

Again, effort has clearly been put in to making the instructions as simple as possible, but a couple of times things aren't explained carefully enough, and that will leave some users unsure of what to do next.

You'll have to put a decent chunk of time aside, too: formatting hard disks and creating usable ‘volumes' can take ages.

If you make that initial effort, though, you'll be rewarded with a device that runs fairly quietly and is compatible with every device we tried, including the oft-overlooked Xbox 360 and (with the help of an added app) the Squeezebox range of music players.

Lots of neat features
If you install two hard disks, one will back the other up, and there are lots of neat features, such as a BitTorrent client to handle your downloading and a range of free apps that allow you to access your stored content from an iPhone or iPod Touch.

You can even plug a USB speaker system directly into the NAS to play music from it, and there's an optional remote that comes with a connector for integration into your hi-fi – two features we've never before seen from a device like this.

If you're prepared to put the time and effort in, you're going to end up with possibly the best media NAS on the market.

See all our NAS reviews

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