Unfortunately, the Download Station doesn't support keeping track of RSS feeds, which was a useful feature in the Zyxel NSA-220. This is rather disappointing. Since the DS209+ supports iTunes and UPnP media servers, it would be useful if you could keep track of audio and video podcasts and make them available to the rest of the devices connected to the network.
The DS209+ comes with Photo Station 3, which allows you to easily to organize photos into albums and may be the device's biggest selling point for home users. Once activated, a share folder called Photo will be created on the DS209. One you've dragged your photos into this share folder, the DS209+ will take care of the rest and turn each folder of photos into a well-organized, customizable album. You can then browse the album via a Web browser, and like in Google's Picasa Web album , you can very easily add captions and comment to each photo/album. You can also apply different themes to the albums.
Photo Station includes a blogging function, which allows for writing your own blog linked to the photo album. You can also create user accounts to allow and limit access to the photo album. We tried a folder of 275 photos, and the NAS server took about 10 minutes to generate thumbnails for all of them.
The DS209+ allows for a very flexible way to access the Photo Station feature over the Internet as long as you're capable of setting it up with a dynamic Domain name system (DDNS) , or if you access the Internet with a static IP. To use this, you will need to know a little about networking, and have the ability to forward certain ports to certain IP addresses, etc. Synology provides rather scant instructions regarding how to set it up, partly because this depends on each router you have. The DS209+ supports four DDNS services, including: 3322.org, NoIP.com, Two-DNS.de, and DYNDNS.org.
Additionally, you can use the DS209+ as multiple types of Web-based servers including a Web server, MySQL server, file station server, and an audio station where you can listen to audio files contained on the DS209+ via USB speakers attached to the device's USB port.
The DS209+ has a few of backup options that are focused on getting content from the device onto a USB external storage device or a network location. For using the DS209+ as a backup destination, Synology bundles it with its Data Replicator 3 desktop software.
The Data Replicator 3 is a very simple backup application that allows you to quickly copy data--much like copying and pasting using Windows Explorer--from your hard drive to the DS209+. The software, however, does have a nice feature that helps you find and quickly back up e-mail archives, which generally are buried deep in layers of subfolders within a user's profile. In addition, it also allows for scheduling and keeping track of the backup process via e-mail notification. For more complete backup solution, Synology recommends Acronis.
We tested the DS209+ in both RAID 1 and RAID 0 configurations, and it did well in both, topping our charts by a remarkably large margin.
In RAID 1, where the hard drives are set up for data redundancy at the expense of throughput performance, the NAS server scored 240Mbps for write speed and 322Mbps for read speed. These are faster than most USB 2.0 external hard drives. For comparison, the second fastest on our NAS server chart is the iOmega StorCenter ix2, with merely an 89.1Mbps and 137Mbps for write and read tests respectively.
In RAID 0, the DS209+ did even better, with 256.3Mbps for write speed and 375.5Mbps for read speed.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
This performance is achieved, in part, thanks to the DS209+'s new configuration, including an 800MHz Freescale CPU and 512MB of RAM (compared with the 500MHz Marvell CPU and 128MB of RAM for the DS107+). The specifications for the DS209+ are also higher than most of those used in consumer-grade NAS servers.
Throughout the testing process, the DS209+ performed smoothly and quietly; however, the caveat is that CNET Labs' level of ambient noise may have affected what we were hearing. Or not hearing, as it were. If you're using the device in very quiet room, what you hear may be different.
Service and support
Synology backs the DS209+ with a two-year warranty from the date of purchase. Phone tech support is available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST. At its Web site, you can find Synology's forum, download software and the latest firmware, and get more information about its products from the Wiki page.