So you’ve filled your PC’s hard drive with massive 4K video files - but how the heck are you supposed to get ‘em on your snazzy UHD TV?

Network Attached Storage might not sound like a sexy solution, but a film- and TV-friendly NAS could be the one-box fix you’ve been looking for.

Synology’s DS216play will handle all all your streaming video needs, plus it’ll back up your photos, music, and all the other files you’d forgotten were still hiding in your Documents folder, so a failed disk doesn’t spell disaster.

APP IT UP

The DS216play shows up as a network drive on your PC, so you can drag and drop all your files right onto it - but that’s not even half the story.

Diskstation Manager, Synology’s web-based UI, is more like a mini operating system, with a desktop, standalone apps and a Windows Explorer-style menu system that’ll make it feel instantly familiar.

A handful of apps come pre-installed to get you started, with most having iOS and Android counterparts to add to your phone for easy access. The backup app was, as you’d expect, a delight to use, ensuring your vital files across all your devices are automatically stored for safe keeping, both locally and to the cloud via Google Drive or OneDrive.

Among others in the arsenal are Plex, a downloading app for Torrents and their filthy pirate ilk, and Synology’s own Plex-like Videostation app that presents movies and TV eps in a very Netflix way.

STICK A 4K IN ME

Video playback really is the biggest reason to pick up a DS216play - it’s got a 1.5GHz CPU and 1GB of RAM designed purely for transcoding 4K video files and streaming them across your network to just about any device.

It’ll step down file quality for mobiles and tablets, but stick to native resolution if your TV supports 4K. Or at least, it’s supposed to - in our testing, things weren’t always silky smooth. 4K transcoding is disabled by default on lower capacity drives, which could be a problem if you were planning on using an SSD instead of a hard disk.

It's also seriously selective with file types, refusing to play Ultra HD video recorded from a smartphone, or anything with a 5.1 surround sound audio track. The latter was until we enabled that audio transcoder, which was disabled out of the box. You've got to do a lot more digging around in menus and toggling settings than you would with any other streaming stick or service, and depending what you're streaming to, you might be left stuck with a 1080p feed instead of full 4K. 

Plex wouldn’t play nicely either, saying the DS216play wasn’t powerful enough, although Synology’s own Videostation app saw no issues. After some trial and error, though, playback was smooth - even with a 40GB UltraHD file to our Chromecast Ultra in all its full 2160p glory.

Tech Specs 
CPU
1.5GHz
MEMORY
1GB RAM
CAPACITY
2x 3.5in hard disk drives, 16TB max
CONNECTIVITY
1x USB3, 1x USB
DIMENSIONS
229x102x178mm, 198g
Stuff says... 

Synology DiskStation DS216play review

Selective 4K video playback means this isn't the ultimate streaming box, but it makes amends with brilliant backup and an outstanding OS
£219
Good Stuff 
The best OS you'll find in a box like this
Setup is easy as pie
4K transcoding (mostly) hits the mark
Bad Stuff 
Some file types are a no-go
HDMI would have been nice
No front-facing USBs