We would like to thank Synology for supplying the review sample.
The DS216play succeeds the DS214play we evaluated in the past. While the DS214play offers up to 1080p transcoding, the new model raises the bar by supporting 4K (Ultra HD) video transcoding. To be more specific, the DS216play supports H.264/H.265 1080p and H.265 4K codecs and allows 4K videos to be transcoded to 1080p or less, which makes them compatible with any monitor or TV and networking infrastructure since transcoded videos consume less bandwidth. The only downside is that 4K transcoding is only available through Synology's own applications since Plex doesn't support the DS216play's hardware at the moment. As such, you will have to stream high bit-rate videos to other devices through Synology's Video Station, DS video, and other Media Server apps.
The DS214play uses an Intel Evansport CPU, but Synology chose to go with a SoC that isn't as popular with this NAS, the STiH412 by STMicroelectronics. A dual-core SoC, you will find more about it on the next page where we will discuss this server's technical specifications. Unfortunately, a quick look at the new "play" model doesn't seem to reveal any notable upgrades over its older sibling; we actually noticed some missing features. Synology obviously excluded some features in an effort to keep its price as low as possible, but we would like to see a more capable NAS since 4K transcoding can be very demanding. As such, the DS214play was priced at $385 at its release while the DS216play is slated to go for as little as $250. While a significant price difference, we can't overlook the fact that the older model is better equipped since it has hot-swappable trays, more USB 3.0 ports, an eSATA port, and an SD card slot.