The first thing that strikes you about the DS2411+ is that it looks partly like a subwoofer, and despite its ability to store 12 3.5-inch hard drives, is low key enough that it could hide in plain sight in a lounge room. Despite this, it's not as attractive as QNAP's design, and the drive caddies could do with a bit of work in terms of uniformly slotting into place.
Flip it around to the back, and you've got four USB 2.0 ports, a VGA port and serial port for troubleshooting, and dual-gigabit Ethernet ports. Synology could afford to be more generous here, offering USB 3.0 or eSATA. Competitors like QNAP also offer a customisable "backup" button, linked to a USB port on the front that can ease quick transfer.
One thing could stop the DS2411+'s entry into the lounge room: despite having twin 120mm fans that are quiet enough, the power supply makes a strange, rattling electrical noise, something that will annoy the sharp of hearing. Of course, in the datacentre, this will annoy no one at all.
Open the NAS up, and the first thing you'll notice is the huge amount of empty space behind the drives. It's doubtful anything else could be put here considering the layout and requirements of the device, and it no doubt assists with airflow — it's just an odd sight after seeing so many extremely packed NAS.
Missing is any sort of display — the DS2411+ relies on LEDs for status, LAN activity and errors, meaning you'll have to use Synology's software for set up and finding the internet protocol (IP). You'll also want to have all disks you use be blasted free of partitions; we found that Synology's software freaked out when we used disks that had come from another NAS.
Synology's initial set up differs from competitors in that you have to download the latest firmware from its website. It's a great way to ensure that things are kept up to date. We took the punt and went with Synology's 4.0 beta, rather than the 3.2 stable, to see what Synology had coming around the corner.
One thing is immediately apparent: Synology makes beautiful interfaces for its firmware. Should the company ever move into routers, they could have a captive market. DSM, Synology's operating system, is instantly understandable and approachable to anyone who's used a Windows or OS X system, despite having a huge amount of features. There's even a taskbar along the top that keeps track of which windows are open.
Synology's UI is vastly ahead of its competitors.
(Screenshot by Craig Simms/CBSi)