NAS for hd photo playback on 4k tv

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NAS for hd photo playback on 4k tv

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Hi everyone!

A a new kid in the block, looking for information in the NAS world for some months. I don't own one yet, but I am in the process to pick up one. Maybe some of of you experts can solve some of my doubts.

I'm an amateur photographer who takes photos with a Fuji camera mainly during my holidays and I already have some thousands of them backed on external HDD and one SSD.

I'm looking for a NAS with the main goal of admiring my not so good 23 megapixel photos on a Sony 4k tv, taking advantage from its good panel and resolution. What I want is performance during photo playback, showing the thumbnails, surfing through the folders, albums and photos on a instantaneous way and in full resolution. Yes, I'm very picky with this.

So far I have tried the following options without the results I want:

-Connecting a HDD (2,5") to my Sony Tv through USB and using Sony Albums app or VLC app: the quality is perfect but it goes desperately slow and makes it unusable.
-Connecting a SSD to my SONY TV through USB and using Sony Albums app or VLC app: the quality is perfect and it plays quite faster than the HDD version but still not fast enough (around 5 seconds since hitting the enter on the remote controller till the photo is showed in full resolution). It makes difficult to go through a large photo catalogue and to pass from one photo to another with ease. Not enjoyable.
-Amazon Photo app on a Fires Stick and Fire Stick 4k: it goes smooth. The speed scrolling from phots is absolutely fantastic (just the the way I like it), but...it compresses the photo resolution, so I cannot take advantage from the 4k panel. Amazon Photos stores the photos on their native resolution but it plays them compressed. Unfortunately.
-Apple TV 4k: I haven't tried it, but the Apple Service told me that with an iCloud account it can work, but it's very expensive to suscribe for a big storage account. And it has some limitations. I am an Apple user, by the way (iPhone, mac and iPad Pro in the future if the NAS environment adapts to the photo viewing experience I want).

So, the question is:
  • Can a NAS provide me a solution for a freaking fast photo viewing experience?
  • If so, what is better for it? SSD NAS or HDD NAS?
  • The Synology sales service recommend me the 218+ for it but they couldn't give me an answer to that question.
  • Does the SSD make a difference in fast photo playback?
  • Is RAM important? And how many GB? It looks like, it is for me.
Other info:
-Photo and file backup is not that important for me. I mean, it is, but I'm going to upload photos to the NAS from my camera 5-10 times per year. More often from my iPhone but is less important. I will play the photos on screen at least once a week, so watching is more important than storing. If you know what I mean...
-4TB-10 TB should be enough for me.
-I'm not going to need the NAS available 24h, so my use is not going to be intensive (SSD is ok for it?)
-Noise is important for me. I am used to the Mac environment, so I'm picky with noise. The NAS will be placed in my living room. I don't trust much when people say that good NAS HDD are not noisy ;). Are they?
-I want to give access to photo albums to my family but not more than 10 people.
-I can use the NAS also for my Mac Time Machine backups but it is a secondary issue for me.
-I want to access my photos form iPhone an iPads when I travel. And I want it fast. Like scrolling through my Photo albums in my iPhone. Is it possible with the Synology apps?. I read they work well.
-Video is secondary as well. I know it is weird, but it is like that for me. I have a good amount of Blurays, Netflix an Amazon Video, so I am pretty much covered. But I would like to play my iPhone 4k 60 fps or 30 fps on my tv too. If I am not mistaken there is a difference between 218 and 218+ on that aspect, right?
-I have a 100 mb/100mb Internet cable connection. I can upgrade it to 600 mb/600mb. I prefer to connect my tv with WIFI than with an Ethernet cable. I know is better wired but, is it needed for photo playback too?

I tried to specify my situation as much as I could, and I would appreciate a lot your thoughts based on your own experience. Is a NAS what I really need?

Thanks a lot in advance. I need that info in order to jump into the Synology NAS world.

Best regards
 

Rusty

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Can a NAS provide me a solution for a freaking fast photo viewing experience?
In some cases, it can and it also depends on what you will use to present and view them
If so, what is better for it? SSD NAS or HDD NAS?
SSD ofc
Does the SSD make a difference in fast photo playback?
One part of speed comes from drives, other from the network and ofc the devices themself that you will use to view them by as well how they are connected to your network
Is RAM important? And how many GB? It looks like, it is for me.
The more the better. With more RAM NAS will overall perform better but this will also mean that in some cases there will be no need for more RAM and in other cases, there might be.
-Photo and file backup is not that important for me. I mean, it is, but I'm going to upload photos to the NAS from my camera 5-10 times per year. More often from my iPhone but is less important. I will play the photos on screen at least once a week, so watching is more important than storing. If you know what I mean...
This makes a bit of a confusing sentence. So if you will be storing the data on the NAS and viewing it from it (that's the whole point of this thread) then "photo and file backup" is somewhat redundant here right? Considering that the data will already live on your NAS. Backing up to some other location might be considering backup but if this will be a "dump location" from your cameras, then the backup is not on the table here yet.
I'm not going to need the NAS available 24h, so my use is not going to be intensive (SSD is ok for it?)
If you are planing turning your NAS on and off all the time, this might not be a smart move. Might consider other options for this.
Noise is important for me. I am used to the Mac environment, so I'm picky with noise. The NAS will be placed in my living room. I don't trust much when people say that good NAS HDD are not noisy ;). Are they?
Most DSxxx lineup you will hardly hear even in a silent room (maybe a faint hum) and with SSDs inside you can be sure you will have 0 sound from the drives. If you will be mixing SSD with HDDs then you will hear the spinning drives for sure. How much? That will depend on the vendor and the model. For example, WD RED 3TB is less noisy than 4TB versions.

I want to give access to photo albums to my family but not more than 10 people.
That's fine
I can use the NAS also for my Mac Time Machine backups but it is a secondary issue for me.
This is not an issue. It can be configured and it works even with multiple mac devices
I want to access my photos form iPhone an iPads when I travel. And I want it fast. Like scrolling through my Photo albums in my iPhone. Is it possible with the Synology apps?. I read they work well.
It will depend on your upload speed from your NAS location, your download speed on your current remote location, and the app/solution you will use to view your photos. It can be fast, but it won't be like scrolling local storage of any mobile device, let alone an iPhone, especially in 4K quality.
But I would like to play my iPhone 4k 60 fps or 30 fps on my tv too. If I am not mistaken there is a difference between 218 and 218+ on that aspect, right?
Video streaming can be sorted with various solutions, VideoStation, Plex, Jellyfin, emby etc... If you want to maximize your experience then look at models that are from the + lineup and have CPUs that support hardware transcoding of video.
is it needed for photo playback too?
If you want 4K (original) view, then unless you have WIFI AC or WIFI6 capable TV and router, I would advise a cable
Is a NAS what I really need?
Well, getting to your data from a remote location and using it with multiple users there is no other way to do it apart from some sort of shared storage, so NAS is your best option.
 
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fredbert

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TLDR-it-all.

DS218+ has been replaced with the DS220+ (DSbyy+ ... b=max bays inc. expansion units; yy=year; += plus series).

Both have 2GB RAM and officially support 4GB more (DDR3 / DDR4 resp.).

But the DS220+ has two 1GbE interfaces which may help if you have multiple users/devices accessing the photos: it means you can bond the two interfaces to get 2GbE using adaptive load balance, where each client session will be on a physical interface, so 1GbE, but the NAS will spread connections across the interfaces. This is what I've done [because why not] and doesn't need any special switch or setup.

But the DS420+ (4 bay), DS720+ (2 bay internal), DS920+ (4bay internal), DS1520+ (5 bay internal) all also include the ability to add M.2 SSD cache to speed up RAID read or read-write. So you can have bigger HDD in the RAID and use cache SSD ... or just use 2.5" SSD for the RAID in any of the NAS (inc. DS220+). And all these have multiple 1GbE interfaces too.

I did think of Plex Media Server on the NAS and Plex app on Apple TV 4K (which is what I have and works to play MKV video at 40-50mbps over my WiFi). But looking at Plex forums and there are threads on 4K photo viewing and comments on the quality and conversion.

I know VLC on Apple TV 4K also works to access my NAS and Macs. It also supports uploading files to VLC 'cache' which may be something you could do to pre-load a slideshow and doesn't specifically need a NAS.


Noise: HDD do clack. I've DS218+ (looks the same as DS220+) and DS1520+. The DS218+ is quieter and has 2x 4TB WD Red (EFRX ... now known as Red Plus) and disk run cooler 34-39degC. The DS1520+ with 3x 8TB Seagate Ironwolf and 1x 3TB WD Red 'Plus!' seems more clacky but then each bay has more air gap and the Ironwolf run 40-44degC. The fan on the lowest setting isn't noticeable. I wouldn't have them next to the TV, esp. the DS1520+, with HDD: our Humax FVP-5000T freeview box has a clacky 2TB disk vs the previous Humax Fox-T2 that had a 500GB WD Purple.


EDIT: You can test Plex player on the Apple TV by running Plex Media Server on a Mac/Windows PC too. So, again, no NAS needed if you find this can work for you.
 
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In some cases, it can and it also depends on what you will use to present and view them

SSD ofc

One part of speed comes from drives, other from the network and ofc the devices themself that you will use to view them by as well how they are connected to your network

The more the better. With more RAM NAS will overall perform better but this will also mean that in some cases there will be no need for more RAM and in other cases, there might be.

This makes a bit of a confusing sentence. So if you will be storing the data on the NAS and viewing it from it (that's the whole point of this thread) then "photo and file backup" is somewhat redundant here right? Considering that the data will already live on your NAS. Backing up to some other location might be considering backup but if this will be a "dump location" from your cameras, then the backup is not on the table here yet.

If you are planing turning your NAS on and off all the time, this might not be a smart move. Might consider other options for this.

Most DSxxx lineup you will hardly hear even in a silent room (maybe a faint hum) and with SSDs inside you can be sure you will have 0 sound from the drives. If you will be mixing SSD with HDDs then you will hear the spinning drives for sure. How much? That will depend on the vendor and the model. For example, WD RED 3TB is less noisy than 4TB versions.


That's fine

This is not an issue. It can be configured and it works even with multiple mac devices

It will depend on your upload speed from your NAS location, your download speed on your current remote location, and the app/solution you will use to view your photos. It can be fast, but it won't be like scrolling local storage of any mobile device, let alone an iPhone, especially in 4K quality.

Video streaming can be sorted with various solutions, VideoStation, Plex, Jellyfin, emby etc... If you want to maximize your experience then look at models that are from the + lineup and have CPUs that support hardware transcoding of video.

If you want 4K (original) view, then unless you have WIFI AC or WIFI6 capable TV and router, I would advise a cable

Well, getting to your data from a remote location and using it with multiple users there is no other way to do it apart from some sort of shared storage, so NAS is your best option.
Thank you very much for your detail answer. I appreciate it. I don’t know how to answer below your comments, so I’ll do it the best I can. S for that.

-So SDD will be my choice. Any recommendations? I’ll look in the specific thread too.
-I want to optimize it as much as possible. I cannot change the tv. It’s a mid-high end Sony tv from 2018 with an aweful android software. Pretty slow. Is there any way to connect the NAS to an Apple TV 4K, for example, to boost the performance of the Synology photo apps? To avoid using the tv smart interface.
-As for the connection, I believe 100 mb/100 mb WiFi should be enough for moving 15-20 mb photos with ease. I understand that for a 4k movie an Ethernet cable is needed, but also for photo viewing? I can try it, anyway. And I can go to 600 mb if it’s really needed.

-RAM: I prefer to have the amount of RAM I need for fast photo playback, even though is going to be overkill for other secondary uses. Any hint of how much from your experience?

-When I said backup is not a main issue for me, I meant that I can find other solutions to backup my files and photos, but I don’t find a way to access and view my photos on my screen easily but with a NAS. I’m not a guy that is constantly backing up their files. I know many photographers use a NAS in order to backup their files safely and that’s it. For me, the fast access on my screen is the key. Of course without backing them up you can’t access them, I was just setting my priorities.

-I’m not considering turning on and off the NAS often. It’s just, that I won’t be accessing the data often like an enterprise or a professional user would. So the durability could be longer, understanding that an SSD could have a shorter life than HDD. I point this out to let you know what are my needs in order to select the best Synology option.

-The noise issue is clear. SSD all the way ;)

-As for the speed scrolling photos from a NAS on an iPhone, once at an Apple store they showed to me how scrolling works from iCloud and it was very fast. You could hardly feel the difference of speed between local phone storage an iCloud one. I mean, original photos are under 20 mb each. They are in high resolution but the phone or even an iPad shows them in a lower resolution. Again, I’m not talking about video, which should be slower, for sure. Any user with experience on this very specific and maybe picky need? ;)

- + Synology devices have video transcoding, but some can handle 60 FPS an others 30 FPS. iPhone records in 60 FPS now, and I occasionally record concert or sport videos with it. Not a big deal with it. It’s secondary. 218 Play, 218 or 218+ is what I checked. The choice affects RAM upgrade capabilities as well, so that’s why I ask about it.

Considering everything, 218+ with SDD is a good option for me? Or is it too much or too little?

Again, thank you so much for your answers. And I apologize if my English writing is not very good or clear. I know my questions are very specific but I don’t find a lot of info on photography playback. There a lot about video.
 
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SynoMan

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I don’t know how to answer below your comments, so I’ll do it the best I can. S for that.
 
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Rusty

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Is there any way to connect the NAS to an Apple TV 4K, for example, to boost the performance of the Synology photo apps?
Not sure there are ATV Synology native apps, maybe someone that has both can answer that
but also for photo viewing?
Well MB/s are MB/s regardless if its video or an image file
Any hint of how much from your experience?
My experience and needs are not the same as yours. So for my case the more I have the better, but I could say that most NAS units will be enough for any stock usage, it is going beyond that, which will require more ram.
It’s secondary. 218 Play, 218 or 218+ is what I checked. The choice affects RAM upgrade capabilities as well, so that’s why I ask about it.
Keep in mind that the new models x20 have arrived. Looking into 2+y old model might not be a wise idea atm.

Considering everything, 218+ with SDD is a good option for me? Or is it too much or too little?
The stronger that NAS the better. You will not pay way too much for the same model in a lower class anyways
 
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fredbert

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Not sure there are ATV Synology native apps, maybe someone that has both can answer that
DS photo on Apple TV HD/4K. But with DSM 7 in preview at the moment and no mention of Photo Station being supported I'd hesitate to say to go down that route. There hasn't been a Moments app on Apple TV.
 
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Thanks a lot. I was answering on my phone and I didn't find it.

Well MB/s are MB/s regardless if its video or an image file
Yes, but a video requires more mb/second than a photo because it has a way smaller size. What I'm trying to find out is what the bottleneck for speeding up the photo viewing experience is: Internet connection, type of disks (Now I really know SSD is better), apps/ tv OS, NAS or RAM. Because all of this determines my choice.

It would be a mix, I know, but I would like to understand it, because Synology technical service couldn't explain it to me. Why? I guess because my needs are not very common, unfortunately. I also bought my 4k tv for viewing my photos as they were shot, not so much for videos. And I faced the same problem. Apparently, no one cares about photography on a 4k tv. ;) Why do you want a 20 + megapixel camera if you cannot appreciate the resolution of the photos? That's another topic.

Thanks.
-- post merged: --

DS photo on Apple TV HD/4K. But with DSM 7 in preview at the moment and no mention of Photo Station being supported I'd hesitate to say to go down that route. There hasn't been a Moments app on Apple TV.

Do you mean that the new DSM7 is going to have limitations in terms of Photo apps?
-- post merged: --

DS218+ has been replaced with the DS220+ (DSbyy+ ... b=max bays inc. expansion units; yy=year; += plus series).

Both have 2GB RAM and officially support 4GB more (DDR3 / DDR4 resp.)
Thank you. When I did my research DS218+ was the option I was considering. I'll look for comparisons.

But the DS220+ has two 1GbE interfaces which may help if you have multiple users/devices accessing the photos: it means you can bond the two interfaces to get 2GbE using adaptive load balance, where each client session will be on a physical interface, so 1GbE, but the NAS will spread connections across the interfaces. This is what I've done [because why not] and doesn't need any special switch or setup.
I don't know how it works but normally I won't have multiple users or devices accessing the photos at the same moment.
-- post merged: --

DS218+ has been replaced with the DS220+ (DSbyy+ ... b=max bays inc. expansion units; yy=year; += plus series).

Both have 2GB RAM and officially support 4GB more (DDR3 / DDR4 resp.)
Thank you. When I did my research DS218+ was the option I was considering. I'll look for comparisons.

But the DS220+ has two 1GbE interfaces which may help if you have multiple users/devices accessing the photos: it means you can bond the two interfaces to get 2GbE using adaptive load balance, where each client session will be on a physical interface, so 1GbE, but the NAS will spread connections across the interfaces. This is what I've done [because why not] and doesn't need any special switch or setup.
I don't know how it works but normally I won't have multiple users or devices accessing the photos at the same moment.

But the DS420+ (4 bay), DS720+ (2 bay internal), DS920+ (4bay internal), DS1520+ (5 bay internal) all also include the ability to add M.2 SSD cache to speed up RAID read or read-write. So you can have bigger HDD in the RAID and use cache SSD ... or just use 2.5" SSD for the RAID in any of the NAS (inc. DS220+). And all these have multiple 1GbE interfaces too.

To be honest I don't understand how it works. There's a learning curve I have to go through, definitely, even for something as basic as watching photos on your tv screen.

I read about RAID but I understood it was more of a data duplication system on 2 disks in order to read or write from both disks at the same time. I'm lost with it. I don't know what the benefits of M2 SSD vs normal SSD are for photo playback. I saw that M2 SSD were actually cheaper, but I didn't know why.
But looking at Plex forums and there are threads on 4K photo viewing and comments on the quality and conversion.
Thank you. I'll search it. I'm interested in it.

You can test Plex player on the Apple TV by running Plex Media Server on a Mac/Windows PC too. So, again, no NAS needed if you find this can work for you.
Well, I need an Applet tv 4k first, because I don't have it yet. As a test, it can help. But, anyway, I want to avoid using a laptop for photo playback. Thank you very much.
 
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