We have two iMacs, two iPads, and a Sonos system. We currently have our music on two different external hard drives, and continue to have issues connecting and finding the Sonos system. I’m thinking about a NAS as a solution but am still confused as to which would be better, Qnap or Synology. We are VERY inexperienced computer users and frankly have little in the way of IT skills, so as close to plug and play is desired. We would use the NAS for our music storage as well as for Time Machine backups for both computers. I’m thinking that a two bay drive with two 4TB disks would suffice. I keep hearing that Qnap has better hardware but Synology has better software…but most important is ease of setting it up…essentially a step-by-step process prompted by the software.
Yes, that’s true about Qnap having better hardware and Synology having better software. But somehow Synology with their superior software have managed to squeeze more juice out of the same or worse hardware. Also, it has proven that Synology is easier to understand if you have no experience with network storage. For simple tasks as streaming music and doing backups as well as sharing files, Synology Diskstation DS218j is a perfect solution. It has 2 drive bays letting you have RAID1 protection. Which will protect your data if one gets broken. They also have many amazing apps included for free, including DS Audio music app. You can use your phone and cast your chosen songs on your Sonos speaker. Or simply connect let Sonos control music content on your NAS and playback directly.
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What can I connect to a NAS?
Wireless Speaker Sonos
The great thing about Sonos is that you don't need to pay for music subscription service. With the cheapest NAS at home like DS115j or any other, you can have your backups done for all of your devices and still use your network drive as a Sonos music library. Sonos will connect to your NAS via your network and let access your provided music library. If you have little more of IT knowledge, you can even set up your Alexa or Sonos with Alexa built in to play music on your voice commands ("Alexa! Ask DS Audio to Play Music!").
Nowadays it is so cheap to upgrade your old TV and make it smart. All you need is Google Chrome or EZcast alternative plugged into your HDMI port at the back of your TV. Now you have great functionality added to your TV to send a video file directly from your NAS to a TV. No need for wires and chargers and other mess. You can use your phone as a remote to go to your movies or family videos and cast that content on your TV during family or friend gatherings.
Amazon Fire TV
You may not have a smartphone, or you just simply prefer to control your content with a remote in that case Amazon Fire TV will be a great addon to get to your TV. It also plugs into your HDMI port and will play content from your NAS to a TV. No wires no mess.
nVidia Shield TV
It gets even better! If you want some more entertainment and all previously mentioned functions - nVidia TV is a great thing to get. You can use it for playing games and watching movies from your NAS. The greatest thing is - shield TV does video transcoding. So even if you have a cheap NAS with a weak CPU, in a combination of shield TV you can now automatically on the fly change video file size and format for a destination device. It is a great way to reduce network load and let older devices to play video content which normally was not supported on the device.