Synology has managed to be quite successful at getting both commercial and home consumers with the aid of their quality and high performing storage options. As NAS prices are too high, people do not usually prefer them, but today, we will review one of them that has been stripped down specially for the mass market; the Synology USB Station 2. While the original version never made it to the United Kingdom, this is the first time we will be seeing this disk station. Offering connectivity to USB drives and printers and also media options, it will sure be pleasing. Read on to find out more.
The design of Synology USB Station 2 Networking External Hard Drive can be described as a tiny one sporting an appealing and inoffensive design. It is a compact white and grey plastic box, about the size of a hamburger, but a bit squarer. Though the device is quite light weight, it feels substantial too, rather than being flimsy. The back has a reset button (which is hardly used), power connector, , a gigabit RJ45 port as the two USB 2.0 ports. And DLNA support means it will also be recognised by other home electronics devices like audio systems and Sony PS3 or Microsoft Xbox360 games consoles.
There is no RAID support as it is a stripped down product, as you can imagine, for a low cost marketplace. Inside, you will find an 800MHz processor with 128MB of DDR400mhz memory, which is a combination that proved to be quite swift, with the CPU never loading over 60 percent even when multitasking, which is very impressive.
Synology recently released the latest version of their OS which is fully multi-tasking, allowing the user to switch between applications and tasks. This is not surprising, but what is surprising is, to find that the USB Station 2 also incorporated this cutting edge software package. As with most of the gadgets of Synology, the NAS systems are accessed using the Synology Assistant which can be found in the disc supplied in the package, or if you happen to loose it, you can also download it from the Synology site. In this case it is already available in the USB Station 2, which allows the device to update itself and sans any manual update for the firmware. As you can imagine, ‘admin’ without any password is the default login. To make sure that you know all the basic procedures, the software gives you a self introduction with a four list menu of the initial options in order to get you up and running. Overall, the system is painless and has a great deal of ease of use.
Disk Station Manager 3:
As soon as you stick in the device, it gets detected immediately and a list of formatting options is offered. There is no RAID, but it does offer FAT32, EXT3, NTFS and EXT4 for cross platform compatibility. Accessing the device from Windows or OSX is as simple as it can get. You also get an option to use it as a media unit; sure to please a wide range of audience. Though we were prepared to see a few compromises with this low cost external hard drive, we were actually not able to find any and this OS proved to be as fast as the previous generation high end Synology gadgets. It is supported by internet explorer, Chrome, Fire Fox and Safari. The entire interface looks more like a Linux OS and can be accessed easily via a web browser.
Plethora of features:
It is amazing that the system still offers support for jumbo frames that sports a plethora of settings, similar to the high end gadgets. Setting up of the shared folders can be done in a single step and will prove quite easy even of a novice user who has no experience with a NAS system whatsoever. All of its options have been tagged within sub categories. The audio streaming options will also prove to be quite useful to most users. It can act as a 24/7 download center without a PC as well and supports iTunes as a server, meaning you can share music and video with other users over the network.
Now, let us move on to the all important part of performance. The raw data throughput of the device is not bad at all, considering the fact that the device is connected through the USB 2.0 interface. When it comes to the real world operations such as transferring data across network to and from Synology USB 2, the device sports a write speed of 12 Mbps, which is not too bad as far as the budget market place is concerned. While copying, the device holds steady between 10 and 13MB/s with 40% of the memory utilised and the CPU time hovering around 40 percent. Reading from the external hard drive is maintained between 19 Mbps to 24 Mbps; the speed depends on the file location and overhead. A mixture of files with a mix of file types does not affect the Synology USB 2 much, only with a very few drops in performance levels.
Noise and Power:
The issues of noise and power are always a very important one, often neglected. Since the Synology USB 2 is fanless, the noise is nothing over the ambient levels. Moving on to the power, the device uses a total of 4 Watts while the data is being transferred.
The device comes in a cute little box that has all the basic information that details a multitude of uses. Inside the box, you will find a Software CD with literature, a Cat 6 cable and a power adapter.
Synology USB Station 2 comes with one year warranty for parts and labour.
If you had read the full review, you must have realised by now that the Synology USB 2 has not been let out in the market as a high performance NAS server. This one is a budget product for home and small office environments. As such, it is very hard to find any fault with it, especially when you are aware that it is capable of streaming 1080p MKV content sans any issues. In addition to this, its USB printer sharing capability will definitely prove to be very useful in any environment. The Synology USB 2 is a silent worker and needs just 4 Watts of power. If you are not demanding the highest data transfer speeds but are in the market for a capable, low cost NAS solution with media and printer sharing capabilities then this should surely be top of your shortlist.