Available from… • www.broadbandbuyer.co.uk
Key Features: • Localised file sharing • Data streaming from multiple devices • Printing hub
A NAS (network-attached storage) unit works in conjunction with a wireless network to facilitate the storage and sharing of files, be they audio, video or, well, any kind you can think of. NAS devices are becoming increasingly popular these days, as useful home and office solutions.
The Synology USB Station 2 packs in all the functionality you’d expect, enabling its network of users to both stream and download the content that has been attached to it. We say ‘attached’, because the USB Station 2 is more a facilitator than a storage device – you need an additional mass storage unit to connect to it and actually hold your files. However, this is reflected in the price, as you’ll find NAS units that include storage facilities are considerably more expensive.
Straight out of the box, the USB Station 2 is extremely easy to set up. It’s a simple case of plugging it in to the mains, connecting to your router with the included Ethernet cable and then attaching your mass storage unit. Loading the software on your Mac is equally simple, with clear and concise instructions that will have you on your web browser-based user interface in no time.
Adding someone else to the system is as straightforward as repeating the process on their device, and there’s also the option to limit the access of each user, if using in an office environment, for instance.
The user interface itself doesn’t take long to get to grips with, and though it doesn’t offer much in the way of eye-candy, it is practical. The Quick Start menu opens upon your first login, with a series of guides on how to use all the major functions.
The main applications include iTunes connectivity, an Audio Station, Download Station and the obvious File Browser. Opening and searching through the
file browser is simple and fast, and the download speed is excellent. We managed to get a 500MB video file from the device in under a minute, on a 10MB connection. The Download Station works similarly to Vuze, or any other popular download client. The Audio Station has a nice interface that, while not as pleasant as iTunes, does the job admirably. There’s also the addition of SHOUTcast Radio, which is a bonus.
If you really need a way of file sharing between networks, but want more options than you can get with a cloud service like Dropbox or Google Drive, then this is a very reasonable unit that even works with PlayStation 3, Xbox, some digital TV sets and iPhones. However, if you purely want to share files, we suggest you try the much cheaper online applications out there.