NAS External Data Storage: Synology Diskstation DS413j review

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Synology DSM413jIntroduction:

Setting up your own home server doesn't necessairly need to be difficult as there are a number of options for doing so, of varying levels of complexity. Obviously you could build or buy a dedicated PC for the job, but more simply you could get your hands on one of the new generation of NAS enclosures by Synology which run their own bespoke graphical operating system, which has recently been updated to version 4.1, called DSM. All you have to do with these is stick in a hard drive (or multiple drives if you want to take advantage of a RAID array), install the DSM software and then you are up and running. The latest Synology Disk Station to be released is the four bay DS413j, a home NAS solution designed to take up to four hard drives and sports a number of improvements over previous models. Read on to find out more...

Specifications:

Hardware:

CPU Frequency : 1.6 GHz
Hardware Encryption Engine
Memory : DDR3 512 MB
Internal HDD/SSD : 3.5" or 2.5" SATA(II) X4 (Hard drive not included)
Max Internal Capacity : 16 TB (4 X 4 TB HDD) (Capacity may vary by RAID types) (See All Supported HDD)
External HDD Interface : USB 2.0 Port X 2
Size (HxWxD) : 184 x 168 x 230 mm
Weight : 2.23 kg
LAN : Gigabit X1
Wake on LAN/WAN
System Fan : 80 x 80 mm x 2
Wireless Support
Noise Level : 18.9 dB(A)
Power Recovery
AC Input Power Voltage : 100V to 240V AC
Power Frequency : 50/60 Hz, Single Phase
Power Consumption : 31.56W (Access); 7.68W (HDD Hibernation)
Operating Temperature : 5°C to 35°C (40°F to 95°F)
Storage Temperature : -10°C to 70°C (15°F to 155°F)
Relative Humidity : 5% to 95% RH
Maximum Operating Altitude : 10,000 feet
Certification : FCC Class B, CE Class B, BSMI Class B
Warranty : 2 Years

For a more detailed specification take a look at Synology's specification page here.

Review:

The DS413j is a more budget conscious offering by Synology to suit the average home user or family who wants to take advantage of the benefits of a NAS attached storage and associated applications, where there are unlikely to be huge numbers of concurrent connections to the device. As such though, with the improvements made to the hardware, the DS413j is a massive improvement over it's predecessors, including the last one we reviewed the DS410j (three iterations prior to this one). Both the CPU and memory have been upgraded which are reflected in the faster transfer speeds (In our tests we measured average upload and download speeds across our gigabit LAN of ~40 MB/sec and 70 MB/sec respectively with a mixture of large and small file transfers).

The overall design of the DS413j hasn't changed massively over the last couple of years with the familiar glossy white casing and grey fascia with an array of green status LEDs that indicate the functionality of each of the installed hard drives, the network connection and the power status. At  the rear of the unit is the power connector, network port and two USB connections for connecting external hard drives (for transferring data more quickly onto installed drives ) or printers (if you want to use the disk station as a printer server).

Synology DSM413j rearHardware installation is still just as simple, requiring quickly removing the cover,  plugging in drives via their SATA connection and securing them in place with screws. Following this you just need to connect it to a network and plug it in. Software installation is also still quick and easy, simply requiring the supplied Synology Assistant software to recognise and install the DSM software on to your drives. Once installed the NAS can be managed directly through the DSM web interface simply by typing it's IP address into your web browser.

The brilliance of the Synology range really lies within the DSM software which is very easy to navigate and gives access to the full functionality of any Synology device (although the hardware is excellent). A full range of applications can be run from the NAS, including media servers, websites(including CMS), backup services (including cloud based). Every app has an easy to follow wizard associated and/or installation is fully documented on the Synology website itself through their Support database, or the very active community pages and wiki.

As with other Synology NAS platforms we have reviewed the Synology DS413j performed flawlessly throughout our testing, with media and file servers rock steady throughout.

Price:

£327.15 from Amazon: Synology DS413j

Verdict:

4.5/5 - The Synology DS413j provides an excellent solution for home users wanting a home NAS server with huge storage potential (up to 16TB). Even as a budget model transfer speeds are more than adequate to allow using the storage and any desired DSM apps to their full potential.

Multimedia/Desktop Speakers: Edifier M1380 2.1 Stereo Speaker System Review

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Edifier-M1380Introduction:

If you use your PC or laptop as your main multimedia hub, you are going to want more than headphones to get the full benefit of your setup. If you don't have the room for a ful 5.1 setup then there are plenty of 2.1 speaker sets that give good audio reproduction and don't cost the earth. The latest set from Edifier, the M1380 Multimedia Audio Speaker System, marketed at the lower end of the market offer, on paper, an excellent proposition, but how did they perform? Read on to find out....

Specifications:

 

Total power output: RMS 8W x 2 + 12W x 1
THD + N (testing level): 10%
Signal to noise ratio: ≥85dBA
Distortion: ≤0.5%
Input sensitivity: Satellites: 450mV ± 50mV | Subwoofer: 70mV ± 20mV
Input impedance: 10KΩ
Audio Input Type: 3.5mm Stereo line-in, Auxiliary input, Headphone jack
Adjustment: Power, Base, Volume, Mute
Frequency Response: Satellites: 140Hz - 20kHz | Subwoofer: 20Hz - 130Hz
Subwoofer / bass unit: 5 inch (131mm), Magnetically shielded, 4Ω
Tweeter unit: 2¾ inch (70mm), Magnetically shielded, 4Ω
Remote control: Wired: Volume control, headphone jack, mute
Control panel: Bass trimmer, Power switch
Dimension: Satellites: 120mm × 151mm × 125mm | Subwoofer: 164mm × 220mm × 280mm (WxHxD)
Weight: ≈4.20Kg (net) / ≈5.20Kg (gross)

Review:

The Edifier M1380 speaker system comes in a sleek black and silver colour scheme and comprises a pair of plastic cased satellite speakers and a moderately large subwoofer (built into a MDF case). The satellite speakers are easy to accommodate on a desktop, with the subwoofer designed to be floor standing. Setup is very simple with the satellites plugged into a set of connectors on the subwoofer and a hard wired line-in cable to connect to the PC (or MP3/Smartphone etc for that matter!).

In addition, there is a matching silver and black wired remote control (with around 1 meter of cable length) which has a large rubber control dial for volume level control and a mute button (with a green LED indicator). The subwoofer itself also has a separate bass dial so that low ranges can be adjusted to taste and the cabinet it is built into feels very solid and we heard no vibration in our tests.

We tested the M1380 2.1 speakers with a range of inputs from music through to games, and throughout out tests they performed well. The tunable subwoofer allows for bass levels to be cranked up, if required (family willing!) and this allows for a reasonable reproduction of most audio types across the board, with good reproduction across the high and mid-range frequencies, although it would have been nice to have the control dial for the subwoofer located with the main volume control for ease of access.

Price:

Currently £34.97 at Amazon: Edifier M1380 2.1 Multimedia Audio Speaker System 

Verdict:

4/5 - With stylish yet functional design and well rounded audio reproduction the Edifier M1380 2.1 Multimedia Speaker provide excellent value for money. 

Console Accessories: Konnet Power Pyramid RCS for PS3/Xbox 360

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Konnet-Power-Pyramid-LoadedIntroduction:

If, like us, you are in to your gaming (and surpisingly I'm not just talking PC based gaming) you probably have at least one console or maybe even both of the two industry main players, the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3. If so you will be acutely aware of the need to constantly recharge the DualShock controllers for the PS3 and will probably have invested in aftermarket rechargeable battery packs for the Xbox 360 controllers to stem the constant battery swaps! Both of these still need to be connected to a USB with the console power on so that they can recharge, which at the very least is pretty irritating if you are using the TV for something else! Konnet have come up with a simple solution to this however with the release of their "Power Pyramid", which acts as a standalone charging dock for consolde controllers. The Konnet Power Pyramid comes in three flavours: one is designed to suit those that only require a dock that caters for Xbox 360 controllers, another to suit those who only want to recharge PS3 controllers and finally a hybrid dock which can dock two of each variety (PS3 and Xbox 360) which is reviewed here.

Specifications:

 

  • Charge 2 pairs of PS3 and Xbox 360 controllers on the same dock simultaneously
  • Centralized controller storage in one stylish dock
  • LED indicator displays charging status for each controller: Red = Charging / Blue = Fully Charge
  • Eliminates the use of charging cables
  • No game console required to power up
  • Intelligent charging technology prevents over charging

 

Included Inside:

  • Power Pyramid Charging Station x 1
  • AC/DC Adaptor x 1
  • Manual x 1

Konnet-Power-Pyramid-Side

Review:

The Konnet Power Pyramid for PS3/Xbox 360 provides a simple solution for storing and charging PS3 and Xbox 360 controllers. The main part of the unit itself is built out of solid black plastic and the slightly offset pyramid shape offers a sturdy base for the unit. The actual controller docks are surrounded by a strong clear plastic moulding that holds controllers solidly in place (PS3 dual axis at the top and the Xbox 360 controllers at the base of the pyramid). Charging is indicated by colour changing LEDs that light up through the clear plastic of the docks, red indicating that the controllers are charging and blue that the controllers are charged and ready to go, with charging taking a similar time to the normal.

We really liked the concept of the Konnet Power Pyramid as it offers a really simple storage solution for controllers that otherwise would end up all over the place as well as ensuring they are ready to go for the next gaming sessions! The only minor downside we could see was that the LEDs that indicate the charging state are quite bright and could be distracting if you house the unit to close to the TV.

Price:

~£20 from Amazon: Konnet Power Pyramid Combo Controller Charger (PS3/Xbox 360)

Verdict:

4/5 - In our eyes the Konnet Power Pyramid is an innovative and practical solution to charging/recharging console controllers for the Xbox 360 and PS3 and we would happily recommend it!