Synology DS213air DiskStation review: NAS drive with built-in WiFi
With WiFi connectivity, the DS213air works with iOS or OS X, offering up to 8GB of storage capacity.
Synology’s DS213air DiskStation combines the power of a media centre enabled NAS with the convenience of a WiFi hotspot. It’s a network drive enclosure with built in 802.11n WiFi capability, so multiple devices can connect to it direct - whether it’s plugged into your broadband router or not.
Read more: Best NAS for Mac
The sample we tried shipped as a bare enclosure, supporting either 3.5” or 2.5” SATA drives. We fitted it with a pair of WD 1TB disks for testing. We recently tested the DS213 DiskStation - and found the level of difference between the two devices quite surprising.
While the DS213 enables you to hotswap drives by slotting them in through a door at the front, a section of the DS213air’s cover slides off completely. You have to install your chosen drives and screw them into place. This design is more suited to the DS213air’s support for different drive sizes but it also signals that the device is intended for use as home server.
The styling makes it seem more appropriate for home use too, with a white plastic casing in contrast to the DS213’s slightly tougher and textured black finish.
Setting up the DS213Air takes about half an hour of your time, from fitting drives to installing the DSM operating system via the network. You can set the drive up entirely via WiFi, without needing to connect a cable to the unit. You can also hook the DS213Air to your broadband router or directly to your Mac via Ethernet.
The fastest read and write speeds are achieved when you have a direct connection - but that also compromises some of the DS213Air’s core functionality.
Using the unit as an Internet connected hotspot, it’s far easier to get all your devices connected. We tested it in a mixed environment that included two iOS devices, three Macs running different versions of OS X, a Windows 8 PC and a ChromeBook. All could find and use the drive over WiFI.
DSM remains one the most impressive NAS operating systems you could wish to use, with media server, drive tools, package installation and settings accessible via a windowed browser interface.
With capacity for up to 8GB of storage, the DS213Air is a stylish and powerful choice for home use, whether you deploy it as a streaming media server or as personal cloud storage, WiFi support makes it a good choice in mixed device environments when getting different operating systems talking to each other through a conventional router isn’t always so easy.