Conclusion and Final Thoughts
Once again Synology gives us a quality product. As the requirements for streaming change over time, Synology seems to keep up with the demand without any surprises. I have spent roughly a month with DS418play and I was very impressed with the streaming and DS Video application it has to offer. In my review I did not want to concentrate on technical specifications of streaming with in DS418play but instead wanted to concentrate on visual quality of streaming and ease of use. Sure DS418play supports H264 and H265 codecs but what does that actually mean for the average user? Smoother frames per second? Less lag? What I have noticed over the year of dealing with media and trans-coding is that the media quality greatly depends on the encoding techniques. If your video is recorded at 720p instead of higher rates, the quality of the video will suffer. The same applies with H265 and H264 encoding (overall). A good example would be media which was encoded in 1080p in H264 and H265. You almost certainly will see pixelation on H264 codec.
When one stream of 4K material was used, DS418play has performed flawlessly without any noticeable hiccups. When I was streaming 4K content to three devices DS418play preformed as well. The only noticeable events experienced were higher utilization of the resources on the backed. None of which caused any issues with the quality of streaming. A big thanks goes to Intel SR2Z8 processor as its able to push multi stream content with ease.
One thing I would like to mention is what Synology actually does with the content in the background. DS418play down-converts/up-converts media to 1080p. Only supported streams that could be trans-coded to 1080p are H.265 (HEVC), H.264 (AVC), MPEG-2 and VC-1. Keep this in mind as this device is unable to stream RAW 4K content.
Right now DS418play (disk less) retails for about $ 461 USD. I do find it to be a little bit on the high end of the price curve for a traditional NAS however, if you factor the streaming, trans-coding and additional features with in this unit the price seems just right. Upgrades to this devices are also available in form of RAM. DS418play can support up to 6Gb of DDR3L type of ram. If you looking to do more trans-coding on multiple streams then I do recommend of getting RAM upgrade. A good example would be if you are planning to use DS418play as part of the Surveillance Station.
Highly recommended product. Well worth the price for what it has to offer.