As I mentioned up front, you can bypass the streaming and transcoding to play files directly if your device supports playing files from network locations. Doing that with MPC-HC, everything played just fine, including 20Mbps/60fps 2160p.
Synology’s audio support is nothing short of fantastic. The list of supported types includes FLAC, MP3, WMA, M4A, Ogg, Ape, both Apple and Windows lossless, as well as all wave files from 44.1kHz/16-bit to 96kHz/32-bit—including 5.1- and 7.1-channel surround types. That’s everything I have in my collection of test files outside of Opus and an ancient VQF file that’s long outdated. You can play any of the supported types using the included Audio Station app or streamed via DLNA.
Supported image formats include JPEG, BMP, GIF, PNG, and TIFF.
DSM or DiskStation Manager is the operating system for Synology’s NAS boxes. As with rival QNAP’s QOS, it’s a full windowing system that works within your browser. Words can’t do it justice, so look at the picture below. It works just like Windows, Linux (which it actually is), or OS X with clicking, dragging, lasso-ing, etc.
Version 6.x brings the operating system into the 64-bit world, which is of marginal value to most home users, but will allow more onboard memory in the Synology’s high-end boxes. DSM 6.0 also supports Btrfs (B-tree file system) with its copy-on-write (COW) technology that allows for easy cross-device storage pools and data snapshots.
Beyond streaming multimedia, just some of the other things you can do with a Synology NAS box are record and browse the output of at least one Webcam, create your own email server, and—its newest feature—collaborate with other users on spreadsheets. No doubt word processing and presentations will eventually be added to the mix. Then there’s the ability to watch and record TV (with a USB tuner attached), Wi-Fi connectivity (with a 802.11x dongle attached), and more.
There’s also a new MailPlus app and server that supports up to five users for free. It’s quite a bit slicker than the normal MailServer application and has dedicated apps for Android and iOS devices. Speaking of which, Synology provides mobile apps for viewing images, videos, etc. stored on the box. There’s a lot more, but I’ll have you visit Synology’s website for further details.
Save your stuff
Though this article is focused on multimedia serving, the DS216+ and DSM 6.0 also provide excellent backup services. In addition to Time Machine support for Macs, this Synology offers its own Cloud Station with clients for Windows, OS X, Linux, Android, and iOS. Yes, you can keep all your PCs and mobile devices backed up to the Synology box. My only issue with this was that during a rather large 400GB initial backup, the client used too much bandwidth. There’s no throttle setting, so I had to pause the sync process when I needed to use another network application.
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