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QuickConnect

As noted in the introduction above, one of the important new features of DSM 5.0 is QuickConnect. As you set up your DiskStation for the first time, you have the option of creating an account. Thereafter, you can log into your DiskStation using your QuickConnect ID.

I did the QuickConnect configuration during setup and activated my account. Thereafter, I was able to use the QuickConnect ID along with my DiskStation login credentials to access the DiskStation from virtually anywhere. All of the Mobile Apps will accept your QuickConnect ID, an IP address or a URL. On the local network, it wasn't necessary to use QuickConnect with the mobile apps, but you could. The mobile apps scan the local network and will find the DiskStation's IP address if there is one on the network.

To test QuickConnect from a "foreign" network, I took my mobile devices with me to lunch at a fast food restaurant where I knew that there was a strong, nearby Xfinity hotspot. I tested six mobile applications using the QuickConnect ID, and all made the connection as expected.

QuickConnect uses a relay service, so I did notice 10-15 seconds of delay as the connection was setup. Synology advised me that you'll get a faster connection if you connect directly to your DiskStation using DDNS/Port forwarding. If fact, the DS Video app detected that I was using QuickConnect and provided me with the prompt shown below. Even though I was connected via QuickConnect, I was able to stream video, but there was about a 25 second delay as the video buffered.

Synology DS Video QuickConnect Login Warning

Synology DS Video QuickConnect Login Warning

I noticed that I couldn't use the QuickConnect ID to log into the DS Mobile app - an app that runs on the server. This is a browser-based app, so to connect, you can use either http://quickconnect.to/quickconnectID or http://quickconnectID.synology.me. I think that if I were to own a DiskStation, I would probably go through the one time hassle of DDNS/Port Forwarding (without UPnP) for the improved performance and only use QuickConnect as a backup.

Still, it's nice that QuickConnect worked the way it was supposed to virtually eliminating the hassle of remote configuration. A few other vendors including Western Digital have also implemented a hassle-free remote setup similar to the one used by Synology and hopefully others will follow suit.

Transcoding

Synology has offered batch transcoding of audio and video files for some time. But with DSM 5.0, video transcoding is now real-time. In contrast, QNAP's QTS 4.1 video transcoding feature is file-based, done in the background by automatically batch processing video stored in its multimedia folder. The obvious advantage of real-time transcoding is that it doesn't eat up your storage with multiple versions of the same file. Given the multi-gigabyte size of TV shows and movies, the extra storage can really add up.

This Synology FAQ shows the transcoding capabilities of different DiskStation models. The DS415play I used, along with the DS214play, are the only two DiskStations that support hardware-based, real time transcoding up to 1080p. Quite a few other DiskStations also support transcoding, but only up to 720p.

I tested video extensively on multiple devices...

  • Android (Samsung Galazy S5) - DS Video
  • iOS - iPad - DS Video
  • Roku 3 - DS Video Channel
  • Samsung Blue Ray player with DS Video app for Smart TV
  • WD WDTV Live - DLNA server
...with these file types:
  • .mp4
  • .m4v
  • .vob
  • .3gp
  • .wmv
  • .mov

All files played with good quality, with voices in sync with the video and no dropouts.  I also used the DS Video apps on iOS and Android and used the Chromecast feature to stream each of the file types to my HDTV.  All test files played properly as did audio files when played on DS Audio on the Android platform.

I also checked CPU use for transcoding. I waited until all background processes were using very little CPU resources as shown by the Resource Monitor. Then, using DS Video, I played a .vob file I knew would require transcoding and watched the resource utilization plots. As you can see from the image below, transcoding used about 33% of the CPU.

Resource Utilization during a real time transcoding session on a DS415play

Resource Utilization during a real time transcoding session on a DS415play

As soon as the video stopped streaming, CPU utilization dropped back to its previous low baseline. This was a clear indication that transcoding was happening in real time.

CPU Utilization detail during a real time transcoding session on a DS415play

CPU Utilization detail during a real time transcoding session on a DS415play

The bottom line is real time transcoding works well on the DS415play with DSM 5.0.  Compared to QNAP QTS 4.1's batch transcoding, Synology's real-time transcoding is a clear winner.

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