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N. Briscoe "Stonefish" (Bristol)

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Synology DS-411 Slim 4TB (4 x 1TB) DiskStation 2.5 Inch 4 Bay Desktop NAS
Synology DS-411 Slim 4TB (4 x 1TB) DiskStation 2.5 Inch 4 Bay Desktop NAS

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars DS411Slim 4x1TB NAS, 27 Aug. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Normally, I tend to write about an item almost immideiately after I've purchased it, but in this case, I've left the article until now, at least four months since the purchase. The reason being, it seemed silly to write an instant review on a NAS (Network Addressable Storage) unit until you had some experience of using it.

The DS411 Slim is, as its name suggests, a very petite device, measuring just 120mm X 105mm X 142mm, something you could easily fit in a book shelf.

The reason it is so small is because, despite being able to take four disc drives, it uses the 2.5" notebook format drives. This makes it good on the footprint, but a little hard on the wallet. Still, you can purchase as few drives as you need, and add more later.

The enclosure supports most common RAID standards, but in addition to the industry standard ones, also supports Synology Variable RAID (SVR). This means you can start out with a box with just two discs in, and RAID that using SVR. Later, you can add additional discs, which will automatically be added to the SVR without any need for re-configuration. Possibly not what you want in a corporate environment, but perfectly fine in a SOHO environment such as mine.

Supposedly, adding suitable drives to the box is easy, but since I'm known to be something like a cow with a musket, when it comes to even the simplest hardware task, I elected to purchase a fully populated enclosure with the discs already installed. This meant, once I unboxed the unit, I simply had to push the disks into place. They had, of course, been a bit loose during shipping.

After that, plug in an ethernet connection to your router, and connect the power supply, and turn the device on. (I did find if you did this in the wrong order, it was much too easy to turn the device on before you'd performed the other tasks, so do make sure you plug the power supply in last of all.)

The system will boot, and you can tell what its doing by watching the display of LEDs on the front panel. The LAN light will come on first (in orange) and then it will check the four disc caddies. Those lights will flash in order too.

Eventually, populated disc positions will show green, as will the LAN light, and the Status light will also show green. Now, you are able to configure the box. But how should you log in to a box when you don't know what it's IP address is?

This is where you need to install a program called SynologyAssistant on a computer of your choice. The supplied CD provides versions for Windows, Linux and MAC so you should not have any trouble installing it on whatever machine is your main box of choice. The point of this piece of software is simply that, because the DS has booted with an IP provided by your DHCP server, its the only way to determine what address it has been given.

Once you have installed the SynologyAssistant program and run it, it will soon detect your DS411slim (and any other Synology devices on your network) and all you have to do is double click on the relevant link. This will fire up your default browser and cause it to point at, for example, [...]

You can then log into the box using admin/admin and of course, you should immediately change the password on the box. However, before you can do that, the DS will recognise that it has not been configured before and will take you through initialising it. Follow the prompts, they are easy enough to understand, and after a while of configuring however many discs, in what ever RAID mode you chose the system will fire up the Synology Disk Station Manager (DSM).

This is your method of managing the box. When I purchased my system DSM 3.0 was what was installed on the system. However, I can tell you that DSM 4.0 is the current version and I recommend that before you install any precious data to your system, you check, and if necessary, update the DSM before proceeding further. The reason for that is, that you will be given a warning upon updating that you may lose your data and should have a backup.

I did things the wrong way round but, having only just uploaded all the data, decided to take that risk. It worked. No loss of data. But after you've successfully logged into the DSM for the first time, do check if it is the latest version, and if necessary, update, before committing your precious data to the box.

So how are you supposed to back up the box in order to cope with future updates to the DSM? Well, it has two USB ports, one front, and one rear, the idea is to attach a USB drive to the box and back your RAID up eventually.

But let's now assume you've upgraded to the latest version of DSM and now need to place all of your data on the box. During the installation, you will have been asked to create one or more partitions. Personally, I only had need for one partition. Within that partition, of course, you can create whatever folders you require, and that is how I've arranged my system. Your requirements may be more complex, just be assured that the DS can handle those requirements, the important thing is to know how you want to arrange the system in the first place.

To upload your data, you should click on the Disk Station Manager icon. This will show you currently available partitions/folders on the DS, and will, eventually, also show you the disks available on whatever computer you're connecting from. Note: Javascript is required. If you have blocks on JS, you will need to make allowances in order that the Disk Station Manager can see your local drive.

Once it can, its a simple case of of cutting/pasting directories from your local drive onto the disk station. Upload works as fast as your local network allows, indications of the current state are shown on the console.

One thing you should be aware of is uploading pictures. That works just as fast as uploading any other type of file, however, the Synology box will attempt to create a thumbnail for each picture you upload. This process is excruciatingly slow, so uploading just a few pictures at a time is the best course of action here.

OK, so now you've uploaded all the important documents, pictures (and had them thumbnailed) and music files.

The DS is DLNA compatible, but this is just a marketing name for a layer on top of UPnP and any UPnP compatible client should be able to drag the music off the box and play it. This was my major research task prior to purchasing the DS. I'm pleased to confirm that it works. Once I had uploaded all of my music from the desktop machine (which was my music centre), all I had to do on the hifi was to discover the Synology (which it did easily) and then select the track(s) I wanted to play. Audio quality was, naturally, just as if I'd played from the desktop. Hardly surprising since it was the source of the files in the first place.

So, you have a box with lots of disk in it, and the ability to offer stored files to any connected device, but how does that work?

Well, you can arrange for machines to mount shares using Windows Shares (CIFS), or even NFS. CIFS is probably best because both Windows and Linux support this natively, but the choice is, of course, entirely yours.

Seems a bit expensive for just a NAS device.

Yep, if it was just a NAS device, it would be expensive, but the box has some applications pre-installed, and others that you can install subsequantly. For one, I installed the Antivirus Essential Package. The machines I uploaded files from were already protected, but there is nothing wrong with belts and braces.

But there are numerous packages available which are not installed by default. This includes VLAN capabilities, through CMS systems and web system packages. You'll recognise many of the packages available. I can't speak for whether the current offerings are as up to date as the base packages would allow, but its nice to know that you can configure your NAS as a major network services system.

Overall, I give this device four stars. There are a couple of issues where it could be easier to use, however, Synology are upgrading the packages the entire time. The number of packages available appears to be growing and the general usage of the product is excellent.

Fantasy & Science Fiction, Extended Edition
Fantasy & Science Fiction, Extended Edition
Price: £0.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A most excellent product, 24 Sept. 2011
I subscribed to the extended edition straight away, rather than the freer digest. I am really glad I did. The stories in the editions always make you think. Of course, you can't expect every story in every issue to be to your personal taste, but this does not detract from the overall excellence of the product.

I've read two editions so far and can't wait for the next one. The bi-monthly publishing cycle means I'll have some time to wait, but I know the wait will be worth it. Not a subscription I will be cancelling.

Pure Digital SIROCCO550 Micro Hi-fi Digital FM Internet Radio CD and iPod Dock
Pure Digital SIROCCO550 Micro Hi-fi Digital FM Internet Radio CD and iPod Dock

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A most excellent product, 4 Sept. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have put the full review up on my blog at [...] but here are a few short comments.

The sound is great, set up is easy, once you realize that speaker cables don't actually need a connector, and you can even begin to enjoy all those stereo broadcasts from the TV, providing you have the correct connector.

With thanks to the Pink Invasion Company (who trade in the Amazon Market Place) for arranging delivery to my satisfaction, I'm a very happy user of this product.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 11, 2012 9:03 PM GMT

Genuine Pure Accessory - S-1 Flow, Additional Speaker for Pure Evoke Flow Radio - Black
Genuine Pure Accessory - S-1 Flow, Additional Speaker for Pure Evoke Flow Radio - Black

30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent add on, 22 Feb. 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
There is not much to say about this product except to say that it turned my Pure Evoke Flow into the best Midi system I have owned in years.

I know that some people have been sceptical of the stereo separation you might expect from an add-on speaker, but just play Jean Michelle-Jarre, Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds, or Bond's Duel and you can easily tell you have a full stereo experience.

The 3 metre cable means you can have a separation that suits your space. I have the "Flow" at one side of my desk and the S1 at the other. When certain tracks are playing with equal balance on both channels, the sound appears to emanate from my PC monitor. This is as it should be.

This item will turn your Evoke Flow into a superior Midi Hifi.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 30, 2010 8:45 AM BST

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