So I finally got home today to find all kinds of stuff going on. New firmware RC1 for Boxee Box and a couple of packages sitting on my front porch. One box had many warning labels but was pretty unexciting (CO2 canister for my sodastream) but the other box was super duper packaged up and had some size and weight to it. Could it be? My Synology DS1511+ has finally arrived? Yes, it is, oh joy!
So, naturally I put aside all other concerns and immediately tore in to messing around with the new toy (kudos to superbiiz.com for doing such a nice job with the packaging, you could have shipped this thing to Afghanistan and it would have gotten there okay).
Physically the box is very compact, just slightly smaller than an HP WHS for example, but laid on its side. It has five drive bays, two gigabit ethernet connections, two eSATA ports, four USB ports and a VGA connection so you can actually connect a full kb/mouse/monitor if you end up needing to do that for troubleshooting.
The disk trays are made of a sturdy plastic and have a basic locking mechanism to prevent them from being unlatched accidentally. Synology includes copious drive screws, a power cable and a pair of ethernet cables along with a setup CD.
Setup was REALLY easy. Basically you only need to install the Synology assistant from the included CD, and get the latest Synology DSM software from their website. The assistant immediately detects the Synology DS1511+ on the network and runs through a quick setup that consists of assigning an administrator account and then automatically begins building a volume with the available disks, installing the DSM software to those disks and then starting up. It takes about five minutes to do this.
Once the DSM software is installed, you are taken to a web page to log in to the box. Unlike most machines out there, when you log in to the web browser you get a full blown GUI to play with. It's nice that this is through a standard web interface since you require no special software to access the diskstation from anywhere.
For grins, I initially built the DSM with 4 2TB Seagate 5900 RPM LP drives. In the interest of time and to do as much testing as I could, I skipped the sector check (although normally I would do this) and simply created the volume with all available space. This took about 10 minutes and then I was free to build a share, create some user accounts, etc.
I created a 'movies' share and enabled the guest account on the box. I then pulled down an 18GB MKV off of my WHS box, at a speed of about 35-40 MB/s and then proceeded to write that same MKV out to the Synology. Even using the green drives I was able to get speeds on the DS1511+ of between 60MB/s and 70MB/s.... so, at least 50% faster than my WHS using exactly the same drives and a more power efficient processor.
Speaking of power, I put my kill-o-watt meter on the DS1511+ and with four drives going full bore it was using about 45 watts. I believe my EX495 was using about 65 watts when idling or doing file copies with the same number of drives installed.
I was able to connect my Boxee Box to the DS1511+ pretty easily. I just changed the default SMB client account on the Boxee to "guest". It picked up the name of the Diskstation and I was able to drill into my movies share, add it to the sources and start playing movies back.
No hiccups, pauses, buffering or other problems during a two hour high bitrate MKV file being streamed off of the Synology.
For fun, I then added my fifth Seagate 2TB drive, while all of this stuff was being done to test the box. I wanted to know if adding a drive would cause my movie to stall, etc. I am happy to report that everything continued to work fine, even when I went in and added the drive to the existing storage pool... as a matter of fact, while I am typing this, the box is building out that fifth drive, while still doing file copies AND streaming an MKV to a Boxee Box (power consumption during all of this with five drives now installed is a comfortable 52 watts).
I have only scratched the surface of what this box can do. It includes IP surveillance software, web server, file transfer server (so you can remotely access your files from anywhere), email server and a bunch of other things.
The thing that has me particularly excited is that the box appears to be VERY fast, and can handle the addition of a drive with no hiccups. Since I could eventually add two more shelves to it, theoretically it could eventually be taken up to over 40TB of useable storage.
The Synology cannot do EVERYTHING that my WHS does (primarily due to my reluctance to give up my DC++ client and preference for Blue Iris for IP surveillance recording).. I also think the WHS will be easier for me for Time Machine, although the DS1511+ supports that too, so I might eventually switch that over to the new machine.
Any way, sorry for the long ramble of initial impressions, hopefully I can write up a full review at some point in the next week or so and provide it to mediasmartserver.net, etc, for your viewing pleasure.