As your business continues growing, you will soon find yourself in need of new office space to accommodate your team and make room for further development. However, finding a home for your organization can be quite challenging, as any business is different and has very different needs and goals. Using a virtual office or working out of a home office might be the cheapest option, but it can damage your credibility and legitimacy, as research showscustomers are more likely to consider a brand trustworthy if it has an actual physical address and office space.
Co-working spaces are becoming an increasingly popular alternative, as they are generally deemed a more flexible and cost-effective option, yet many companies still prefer to lease their own commercial space and personalize it so that it fully reflects their brand values. With so many factors to consider, including location, size and price, and with other alternatives available, is signing a traditional office lease still a viable option nowadays? Below, nine leading members of Forbes Real Estate Council explain why a traditional leasing agreement is important and how it can help your business.
1. Create Brand Recognition
“Lights, Camera, Action!” Signing a traditional office lease will put your company brand in the spotlight. Your business will have instant “free” advertising by hanging your sign/logo on the building, decaling windows with a website/phone number and your business name can be listed on Google Maps. If cost concerns you, simply rent out extra space and profit by offering co-working space to others. – Angela Yaun, Day Realty Group
2. Increase Productivity And Creativity
The value of providing a shared space to your team is undeniable. What’s important to remember is that signing a traditional lease doesn’t mean you’re confined to traditional thought. Having a common space brings diverse minds together to get creative ideas on the table. With a whole team under the same roof, brainstorms become far more productive and idea sharing can happen on-the-fly. – Frederick Townes, Placester
3. Improve Your Google Local Online Presence
If you want to have have a Google local, which is extremely important to your online presence take a traditional office lease into consideration. Google does not approve locals for businesses using any type of short term or co-mingled office space like Regus or Instant Offices. That being said, if you are a local service, this is definitely something you want to consider. – Hillary Hobson, Highest Cash Offer
4. Lower Expenses Over Time
Traditional offices are usually cheaper for a longer term leases. With most co-working spaces, you’ll have to pay for a la carte services (like renting a conference room, administrative costs, etc.) in addition to the rent. These costs can quickly add up over time. – Susie Algard, OfficeSpace.com
THE INCREASING cost of a cinema ticket has been putting off movie goers from seeing films on the big screen in recent years.
According to data released by the British Film Institute (BFI), the average price of cinema admission in the UK has risen from £4.87 in 2006 to £7.17 in 2015 – an increase of 48.25 per cent over a ten-year period.
And prices vary hugely between locations. For example, in London, to watch the summer movie Driver, a standard adult tickets at a Vue cinema in Westfield will cost you £13.99, while cinema goers watching the same movie in North Finchley will pay up to £12.79.
In Manchester, the same tickets will cost £9.99 per person.
As a consolation to hard done by cinema movie fans, MoneySavingExpert has now found a trick to get two free cinema tickets by simply “cleaning your loo”.
Customers who want to bag the deal just need to spend £3 on any Finish, Vanish, Dettol or Airwick cleaning products in one transaction at Tesco.
To benefit from the offer, customers will have to spend the money either in store before Wednesday August 2 or online on Tesco.com before Wednesday August 23.
According to MSE, the cheapest product currently includes a Dettol Neutraair Fresh Morn Dew.
The air freshener usually costs £1.50 but it is now on offer at £1 until Tue August [Source”GSmerena”]
The most complicated thing on earth isn’t high-technology, it’s family dynamics. A weekend with the in-laws, or a Thanksgiving dinner will provide all the evidence needed. And now that we’re living longer than ever before, the interests and opinions of more generations will compete for the same amount of airtime. The extended life expectancy also increases the need to coordinate long-term financial plans as families navigate mortgages, student loans and long-term care for four living generations. The good news is, there’s hope.
The high-tech craze known as the Internet of Things (IoT) promised the Jetsons lifestyle was only moments away. The reality was decidedly underwhelming. The IoT refers to any device connected to the internet. While some companies added internet connectivity to useful home appliances such as thermostats and door locks, others addressed the less useful combination of internet, such as egg trays and the Wi-Fi juicer.
Focus on needs, not on devices
There are some very useful IoT devices available that help families address the needs of multiple generations. The recommended approach to finding the right device is to identify the root causes of family stressors first, then look for a technology solution.
- Wellness concerns: It’s difficult to balance a full-time job, an immediate family and manage care for a parent or grandparent. If there is a dark stairwell in the home, installing a motion activated light reduces the risk of a fall. A voice intercom such as the Nucleus, can be a good way to check-in with a family member without visiting their residence. Smart locks are an effective way to grant home access to caregivers or emergency responders.
- Limited mobility: Simple tasks can become difficult burdens under mobility limitations. Consider a smart home automation hub such as Samsung’s SmartThings and/or a voice-controlled appliance such as Amazon’sAMZN, +0.13% Echo that can be set up to switch lights on or off, lock doors, set reminders and even water a garden.
- Medications: Managing medications is a top concern of family caregivers. A connected pillbox can be a great way to gain insight into medication adherence without bothering the family member daily. These pillboxes can be simple, such as Tricella’s Pillbox, or fancy such as the HERO.
- Monthly bills: Home energy consumption can be volatile and difficult to manage. Smart appliances such as Google’s GOOG, +1.26% Nest can pay for itself in energy savings by managing HVAC routines based on user activity.
Some of these devices may be familiar, and great solutions to specific issues. But what if the need is broader than one or two specific concerns? What if, for example, mom’s goal is to live at home as long as possible, but her children worry that the home won’t provide the support she needs? The solution is to connect the individual devices to a platform that offers insights valuable to each member in the family.
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts
While simple smart home devices can meet some goals for independent living, unless they work together they cannot address the situations that would otherwise undermine a family’s support of an older member’s decision to age-in-place. Take the motion activated light from above; its one function is to turn on the stairway light. When additional motion sensors are added in the home, the information from each sensor can be stitched together to make more meaningful insights, such as where the resident has been and how much time was spent in each room.
That’s a meaningful step toward unlocking the value promised from the IoT hype, but it’s not quite there. An analysis and alert service such as HoneyCo’s Internet of Caring Things (IoCT), completes the process. HoneyCo’s IoCT proactively alerts family members or professional caregivers of concerning activity, such as too much time at the bottom of that dark stairwell.
Residential care facilities were considered an unavoidable part of the transition from adulthood to elderhood. The broad sentiment was that nobody wanted to go, but we’d all end up there at some point, even if our kids forced us into it. Smart home technology is transforming this concept. The retirement communities of the future will be the homes we live in today. Care will be coordinated through the IoCT, driverless cars will shuttle members to social events, and we’ll reflect on how technology spared us from the anxieties of elderhood and allowed multiple generations to build meaningful relationships.
Zachary Watson is the Founder & CEO of HoneyCo Homes.
“They wanted you to save their kids before them,” says another witness.
It’s the nightmare that became reality in London after a massive fire in a residential high-rise building took the lives of at least 79 people.
As investigators worked to find the cause they narrowed it down to a faulty refrigerator.
10Investigates met up with Clearwater Fire Assistant Chief John Klinefelter, who says refrigerators can absolutely start a fire in your home.
“Some of the things you see with a refrigerator are faulty wiring in the back or wiring as fridges get older so you have wiring that wears away. What you can do is clean underneath it, cleaning where coils are. Make sure there’s not a huge dust build under there. Pull it out from time and time and wipe down back,” Klinefelter said.
Appliance fires are cause for a major safety concern.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that major appliances caused more than 150,000 residential fires nationwide in two years.
“The dishwasher can also be a problem too. Issue we see is with the heating element on bottom and plastic ware and Tupperware falling below. They can melt and start a fire,” Klinefelter said.
Other unexpected appliances Klinefelter says could be the match for a fire: stove, bathroom vent and your dryer.
“The biggest thing is the lint filter in the drier. People forget to clean it. You should empty it out after every load of laundry,” Klinefelter said.
While many times appliance fire are caused by human error, 10investigates has learned that dishwashers, fridges, ranges, and more are on recall lists.
So how do you find ‘out if your appliance has been recalled? A few years back the Consumer Product Safety Commission created a website for that reason.
When it’s time to update your kitchen appliances, $5,000 can go a long way. At this price range, you can splurge a bit on your large appliances and get a few more extras on your products. With $5,000, you can peruse French-door or door-in-a-door refrigerators, slide-in ranges, induction cooktops, and dishwashers with roomy racks and a multitude of cleaning cycles, products that are hard to find if you have less money to play with.
(Only have $2,500 to spare on large kitchen appliances?.)
Here are the best refrigerators, ovens and dishwashers you can buy for a total of $5,000 or less:
Forget the traditional top-freezer refrigerators you grew up with. With a $5,000 budget, you can look at fridges with different designs to accommodate your food storage needs.
When we tested this $1,000 refrigerator, it had the best performance of any refrigerator that had come through the CNET appliances test lab. It might be plain to look at on the outside, but the interior excelled at keeping food cold.
This Food Showcase refrigerator features a door in a door, which means you can open the fridge’s front panel to expose in-door shelves without the need to open the entire door. You can find the Samsung RH25H5611SR for as little as $1,400, which makes it one of the least expensive fridges with the door in a door.
A $5,000 kitchen appliance budget means you can start to look at slide-in stoves. These appliances don’t have a back panel (all the controls are in the front) and cost more than their freestanding counterparts. You can also consider induction cooktops for your upgrade.
Induction ranges like the Kenmore 95073 use electromagnetism to cook food. Usually, stoves with this type of cooktop can surpass $2,000. This $1,300 Kenmore is a less expensive option that still has all the safety and efficiency benefits of induction cooking.
This slide-in electric range offers a great performance — it cooked foods quickly and evenly during our testing. And its $2,065 won’t eat up your entire appliance budget.
Need to call your friend while you put in your contacts? A company called Viio has created mirrors that let you chat through your mirror. Viio equips its mirrors with Bluetooth, so you can connect them wirelessly to your mobile device, tablet or computer. The built-in microphone and speakers let you make phone calls or play music directly through the mirrors. And if you’re just concerned with how you look, the Viio mirrors include LED lights around the perimeter.
The Viio mirrors come in three different models — the Vezzo, Vero and Vetta — that cost $395, $445 and $695, respectively. You can order the mirrors online and in a few Home Depot, Best Buy and Lowe’s stores in Canada. Home Depot and Lowe’s will begin to sell the mirrors in the US this spring. (The site doesn’t yet ship to the UK or Australia, but those prices range from £320 to £565, or AU$520 to AU$920.)
Smart mirrors might be the next hot category as tech companies begin to make health and beauty products. The company Simplehuman has its own line of smart mirrors that customize light settings based on selfies you save in the accompanying app. And an auto-sensing smart mirror called Juno has raised more than $425,000 during its Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign, thanks to features like light settings just for reading, makeup or selfies.
- Auxiliary cord connection
- Anti-fog button
- 6-hour battery or permanent plug
- Wood backing to mount on walls
- Vezzo: 24×32 inches, $395
- Vero: 30-inch diameter circular mirror, $445
- Vetta: 24×64 inches, $695
We reveal the best Blu-ray players you can buy in the UK in 2017. Blu-ray player buying advice. Most popular Blu-ray players to buy today.
Also see: Best Tech Deals
In a world of online catch-up TV, Netflix, Amazon Prime and YouTube who needs a DVD player any more? Without the arrival of high-quality Blu-ray discs some time ago maybe watching content on disc would have died out by now but most of us still have enough DVDs and box sets to warrant that extra box below the TV.
And today’s best Blu-ray players boast streaming features themselves, with smart apps and access to BBC iPlayer, Netflix and the rest built in.
If you have a 3D TV then you need your DVD/Blu-ray player to be 3D compatible, too – so look out for players that work with 3D Blu-ray discs.
Here we highlight the most popular Blu-ray/DVD players on Amazon, which are considered some of the best Blu-ray players by their user reviews. We also take into account user reviews on Reevoo, and independent reviews from the likes of Which? and other testers. We haven’t reviewed these products.
Features to look out for. All these players will play both Blu-ray and DVD discs, but some boast greater features than others.
Best Blu-ray players: what is Blu-ray
Blu-ray discs can hold much more data than DVD discs, and so are great for high-definition TVs, where the picture quality can be much higher than you’d get from a DVD. All Blu-ray players can also play standard DVDs (upscaling the video to near-HD resolutions). Usually the Blu-ray player is preset to upscale a 480i recording (SD-DVD) to 1080P (full HD) output by default. This doesn’t mean that content on DVDs looks as great as on Blu-ray discs but it should noticeably improve the DVD’s quality. Some newer models of Blu-ray player can “up-convert” 1080p high def to 4K for the latest Ultra HD TVs.
Best Blu-ray players: Blu-ray specs explained
Best Blu-ray players – 3D: You might think that owning a 3D TV means you can play 3D discs, but you’d be wrong. Your Blu-ray player also needs to be 3D compatible, so look out for this feature if you want to enjoy 3D movies on disc.
Best Blu-ray players – Wi-Fi: Some Blu-ray players have Wi-Fi built in so you can stream or download movies and TV shows from the Internet without the need for a wired Ethernet connection.
Best Blu-ray players – Ethernet: If you want your downloads to complete faster than via Wi-Fi look for a player with an Ethernet LAN port. These are only useful if you have a wired connection from your router nearby, which most people won’t have near their TV. However, you can use your house’s electrical cabling as a proxy Ethernet cable by using Powerline adapters. You plug one in to a wall power socket near your router, and connect that via Ethernet (cables included with the Powerline adapters), then plug another adapter near your home-entertainment centre/TV/Blu-ray player. Then you connect thise devices to the Powerline via another Ethernet cable. Bingo, you now have wired internet access straight to your TV/player. See Best Powerline adapters.
Best Blu-ray players – Smart apps: Smart Blu-ray players include built-in apps that offer TV- and movie-streaming on services such as Amazon Prime or Netflix, catch-up TV on apps such as BBC iPlayer, and even social media on Facebook and Twitter.
Best Blu-ray players – DNLA: DLNA (which stands for the Digital Living Network Alliance) allows sharing or streaming content such as movies, music and photos over a home network – for example, from your laptop to your TV, or playing an MP3 on your phone.
Best Blu-ray players – USB: Some Blu-ray players include a USB slot so you can simply plug in a USB memory stick or hard drive to play movies, TV shows, home videos, photos and music on your TV screen.
Best Blu-ray players – 4K: If you have a 4K TV you’ll want a Blu-ray player that can upscale to super high-resolution 4K, so look out for this feature. If you don’t have a 4K TV (or aren’t planning on buying one in the next year or so) this feature won’t matter to you.
Best Blu-ray players: where to buy
In this feature we look at the most popular Blu-ray players, using data from Amazon. But the models listed here can also be found – sometimes cheaper – on other online retailers such as Tesco, Currys, PCWorld and Argos.
- RRP: £45
The Samsung BD-J4500 is one of the most popular Blu-ray players on Amazon. It’s super cheap but garners great user reviews on many retailer web sites, although it’s a no-frills budget model that lacks a network connection or smart apps. That said, if you’re after just a Blu-ray player and none of the extras this is great value.
It plays both Blu-ray and DVD discs, but not 3D. It plays high-quality Blu-ray discs and upscales DVDs to Full HD for rich, sharp visuals and clear sound.
The BD-J4500 also lets you play your own multimedia from a USB memory stick or HDD. And AllShare lets you access movies, music and photos via DLNA, so you can enjoy your content wirelessly.
One of its big claims – aside from the super-inexpensive price tag – is support for the largest number of codec and file formats. Many popular video formats such as Flash and QuickTime are supported, as well as VOB files from DVDs. In addition to MP3 audio, you can listen to lossless FLAC files as well as .WMA, .OGG, .WAV and more. Pictures can be viewed in the popular JPEG picture format, as well as PNG files, GIF files and more.
3D: No Wi-Fi: No Ethernet: No
Smart apps: No DNLA: Yes USB: Yes 4K: No
- RRP: £69.60
Another bargain Blu-ray and DVD player the Sony BDP-S1500 offers Full HD. Images are detailed and clear, and colours take on a rich intensity thanks to Sony’s TRILUMINOS colour technology. (Note this technology is exclusive to Sony and optimised for use with accompanying TRILUMINOS TVs, so you’d need a matched TV to get the most from it, although the player will work without it on other TVs.)
Like the other Blu-ray players the BDP-S1500 also upscales standard definition DVD movies to near-HD quality.
You can also stream content from a variety of online entertainment providers (BBC iPlayer, YouTUbe, Skype and apps made for your TV via the Opera TV Store), via the Sony Entertainment Network.
The BDP-S1500 boasts a quick start so will deliver fast loading times, and it boots up in less than a second.
3D: No Wi-Fi: No Ethernet: Yes
Smart apps: Yes DNLA: USB: Yes 4K: No
Sony BDP-S5500 3D
- RRP: £100
The compact Sony BDP-S5500 offers not just Blu-ray and DVD playback, but also supports 3D Blu-rays discs. This Blu-ray Disc player also upscales 2D video to “simulated 3D” for enhanced depth and improved on-screen image detail.
With the BDP-S5500’s built-in super Wi-Fi Pro, you can browse the best online entertainment on the big screen. Smooth, fast streaming means you’ll enjoy Internet content with fewer interruptions and greater picture quality. Upscaled and native 3D Blu-ray movies also come to life in Full HD 3D for a more immersive viewing experience.
With Miracast you can view and share smartphone content on your TV, giving your photos, videos, and music the big screen treatment. Also you can use your tablet or smartphone (Android or iOS) to control your Blu-ray Disc player, and learn more about what you’re watching, with the TV Sideview app.
Like the BDP-S1500 it is compatible with Sony’s exclusive TRILUMINOS colour technology.
Enjoy all the fine detail of the original recording in clear, high-fidelity surround sound with Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD. DLNA allows you to share multimedia content across all supported devices in your home. The USB slot is handily positioned on the front.
3D: Yes Wi-Fi: Yes Ethernet: Yes
Smart apps: Yes DNLA: Yes USB: Yes 4K: No
- RRP: £49.99
The no-nonsense, compact LG BP250 is a Blu-ray and DVD player that also allows you to play videos, photos and music via a USB drive (handy slot on the front).
Like the other players here it will also upscale your DVD collection to near-HD quality.
While it won’t work with 3D discs and doesn’t offer smart TV apps most people won’t miss these extras. It has an HDMI slot on the back, but no Ethernet.
3D: No Wi-Fi: No Ethernet: No
Smart apps: No DNLA: No USB: Yes 4K: No
- RRP: £61.99
This is one of the cheaper 3D Blu-ray players, and also includes smart functions such as Opera TV apps so you can watch BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, You Tube, and Netflix among others.
The curved design makes this Blu-ray/DVD player stand out from the crowd, and mimics Samsung’s curved TVs and soundbars.
You can plug in a USB memory stick or hard drive and then use ConnectShare Movie to share everything from home movies and downloaded music to photos, with friends and family. The BD-J5500 is DLNA compliant, and has built-in Wi-Fi.
3D: Yes Wi-Fi: Yes Ethernet: Yes
Smart apps: Yes DNLA: Yes 4K: No
Sony BDP-S7200 4K
- RRP: £169
The Song BDP-S7200 might cost more than the other Blu-ray drives listed here, but it does upscale Blu-ray Full HD content to 4K for the latest, high-resolution TVs. Audio playback is super high resolution too.
Its dual-core processor enables faster streaming, quicker loading and smoother playback.
Download the TV SideView app to start using your smartphone or tablet as a remote control. And you can view and share your smartphone on your TV with screen mirroring.
3D: No Wi-Fi: Yes Ethernet: Yes
Smart apps: Yes DNLA: Yes USB: Yes 4K: Yes
Samsung DVD-E360 DVD Player with USB Host 2.0
- RRP: £29
This DVD player doesn’t play Blu-rays
This Samsung player is as simple and affordable as they come. It has the clever functionality of being able to play videos stored on USB sticks. You can even convert audio CDs onto MP3 with the built-in audio rip feature.
Sony DVP-SR170 DVD Player
- RRP: £39
This DVD player doesn’t play Blu-rays
One of the best selling DVD players on Amazon, this Sony DVD player will do everything you want (apart from play Blu-rays – scroll up for those).
It’s only 270mm thick, meaning it’s a great space saver with the ability to playback a plethora of media formats for video, audio and images.
Panasonic DVD Player
- RRP: £29.99
This DVD player doesn’t play Blu-rays
Hassle-free, dust-proof design coupled with handy USB playback make this a slim, easy DVD player to use. You really don’t need much more than the basics if all you want to do is play films.
NAS drives are like cloud storage: you can access all your files from anywhere, both inside and outside of your home or office. You can use them to store and play your music and video collections, as well as documents and other files.
Also see: Best Tech Deals
NAS drive buyer’s guide
NAS stands for Network Attached Storage and as its name suggests it enables you to have a large amount of storage connected directly to your broadband router. This storage is therefore available to all your devices. NAS drives are designed to be turned on permanently, which means you can have access to your music, movies, photos and documents at all times. Most have timers so you can set them to turn on and off during the hours you want.
One of the most popular reasons to buy a NAS drive is for media playback. Videos can be viewed on your TV, without having to connect a computer. A NAS drive will use much less power than a regular PC, too, making them much cheaper to run. For ease of setup and ease of use, a dedicated NAS drive is hard to beat.
So what should you look for when choosing one to buy?
The first requirement is capacity. You’ll need one that has enough storage to meet your needs now and in the future. Plenty of NAS drives come with no disks at all – these are known as diskless or bare drives. The advantage is that you can choose the drives you want and how much capacity you need.
You can now get disks up to 10TB is size, though for each disk you’ll be paying at least £400 or so for the privilege. 4TB disks are arguably the current sweet spot, at around £120.
Disks for NAS drives
When you choose your disks, look for ones that have been designed to work specifically with NAS boxes. NAS-optimised features include more secure construction providing more resistance to vibration, which makes a lot of sense for a drive that’s designed to be on the whole time. They also offer power management so they can adjust performance based on their temperature. These drives also offer special features in firmware known by WD as TLER (Time-Limited Error Recovery) and by Samsung and Hitachi as command completion time limit (CCTL). This optimises the error correction for drives when they are installed in a RAID array (explained below) as is usually the case with NAS drives.
RAID, stands for redundant array of inexpensive disks. RAID can be quite complex but at a basic level you’ll want to use it primarily to provide redundancy so if a disk fails your data is still safe. There are many variants but three of the most popular are known as RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 6.
Most NAS drives will offer at least two bays, which means that you can set them up as RAID 1. In this scenario the second drive is a mirror of the first, so if one drive fails completely all your data is safe on the other. You then can replace the faulty disk, and rebuild the RAID array (this will take many hours).
RAID 5 requires at least three drives and offers parity data. That means a RAID 5 array can withstand a single drive failure without losing data or access to data. As data is ‘striped’ across three drives, reads are fast, but at the expensive of slower writes because of having to also write the parity data.
RAID 6 meanwhile requires four drives but offers both striped and dual parity, so two drives could fail and the RAID could still recover.
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Whichever you choose however, don’t consider RAID to be your only backup of your data. First, you’re relying on the RAID array rebuilding successfully, and while from experience we know that it does work, it is another point of failure.
If the box just dies, or of something catastrophic happens like a fire, you’ll still lose all your data. To mitigate this you’ll want another external backup, preferably to the cloud. Most NAS offer native applications for certain providers, but these will require subscription to the service and will not necessarily be from your preferred one.
Another feature to look out for is hot-swap capability, which enables you to take out or add a drive without having to power down first, which could be important if you’re running business applications off your NAS and want to maintain uptime when replacing or adding a drive.
You should also consider whether you’ll need remote access to the drive. Previously this required signing up to a third-party DNS service, but these days with most NAS you can just sign up for an account with your NAS manufacturer as you set up the drive. Login to the account and they’ll handle the connectivity to your box at home. If privacy is a concern you many not wish to go down this route, but for ease of use it’s the way to go.
It’s also worth considering how powerful you need your NAS’s processor to be. The dedicated operating system that NAS drives run are lightweight but a faster processor and more memory will enable features such as transcoding. This means that any media files will be converted on the fly into a playable format, so you don’t have to rely on your client device being able to play the files smoothly. For example, HEVC H.265 files are becoming popular due to the small file sizes, but devices (aside from the latest 4K TVs) that can play this back natively are still uncommon. Transcoding will deal with this for you if your NAS is powerful enough. However, if you have 4K files and want to play these on all your devices you’ll need a fast NAS.
Finally, you might want to consider to what use you’ll be putting your NAS. As well as media a small business user will want to know what applications it has to offer, such as setting it up as an email server, a VPN server, or using it to host a website.
Best NAS drives to buy in 2017 in the UK
1. Synology 216+II NAS
- Reviewed on: 29 December 16
- RRP: £231.99 inc. VAT
All-in-all the 216+II NAS matched up to our expectations from Synology and will be a very good choice for home or small business use. If you aren’t confident about installing hard disks, then this is the box to get as it’s easy and doesn’t require tools. There’s a huge range of applications to choose from the processor SoC offers plenty of horsepower to run them on too and it all runs quietly. With its fantastically easy installation, setup, app support and general ease of use the Synology is a very solid choice. However, if you like the idea of direct hook up via HDMI you may be swayed by the slightly pricier QNAP TS-251A.
Read our Synology 216+II NAS review.
2. Asustor AS1004T
- Reviewed on: 27 December 16
- RRP: £239.99 inc. VAT
We liked the Asustor AS1004T for its ease of installation, it’s relatively quiet operation in normal use and its decent performance. It isn’t fast enough for hardware transcoding though, so you’ll need native support for all your files on all your client devices. Where it trumps the completion is that if offer a four-bay chassis where others at a similar price offer only two. If storage rather than performance is the priority then, it’s a great choice and while the ADM interface isn’t as accomplished looking as some of its rivals it’s got the apps you’ll likely need.
3. QNAP TS 251A
- Reviewed on: 30 December 16
- RRP: £249.99 inc. VAT
The QNAP is an undoubtedly impressive NAS drive. There’s plenty of power for virtually all tasks, and H.265 aside it will handle anything you throw at it. The range of apps is very comprehensive and the interface is excellent. The downside is the lack of support for MKV from its native app, which will mean having to pay for Plex to play files on mobile devices. The unit was also noisier than we would have liked in operation and while it’s good value – it’s not cheap. If you’re willing to stretch to paying this much for a diskless system, the QNAP TS-251A is the best featured NAS drive at the price.
4. WD My Cloud Mirror 4TB
- Reviewed on: 2 January 17
- RRP: £239.99 inc. VAT
When it comes to ease of use the WE My Cloud Mirror is hard to beat. Initial setup is very easy and even sorting our remote access is simple too. For sharing music, movies, photos and documents it works a treat and performance is fine. The downside is that you don’t get the huge range of apps that are available for other brands. However, if you prioritise ease of set up and ease of use the WD is worth looking at and with 4 TB of storage included for the price, it’s a great value option.
5. Synology DS115j
- Reviewed on: 18 December 14
- RRP: £78 inc. VAT
Synology has made headlines with its new cut-price DS115j, and its recommended retail price of just £78. The performance has also been cut, along with useful features like USB 3.0, but if you need these the DS114 is still in the range for around £140. And if you really would rather not spend that, the cheaper DS115j will take on basic storage tasks, and still perform faster than some more expensive competition.
6. Netgear ReadyNAS RN212
- Reviewed on: 28 December 16
- RRP: £250.98 inc. VAT
The Netgear’s physical design and is very impressive, but we were troubled by issues that meant it lacked the appeal of drives we’ve tested from QNAP and Synology. Not all disks can be installed in a tool-less fashion and the interface for installing and using apps isn’t the best we’ve seen, not is the range of choices. Performance is good, but the ARM processor doesn’t quite have chops to handle 4K transcoding. It’s a good NAS, but it would need to be cheaper for us to recommend it over the competition.
7. Synology DiskStation DS216play
- Reviewed on: 16 December 15
- RRP: £190 inc VAT
The 216play will likely be a disappointment to 214play owners wondering about an upgrade. It makes sense only if you have – or will soon have – lots of 4K content that you need to transcode on the fly. Its performance is good, but if you don’t need real-time transcoding, you may want to opt for a different DiskStation (or indeed another NAS entirely) which has the extra ports and SD slot which the 216play lacks.
8. Synology DS414j
- Reviewed on: 20 October 14
- RRP: £267 inc. VAT
The Synology DS414j may not be the most glamorous of NAS drives, if indeed there is a candidate leader, but it is well-made and packs just enough power to not embarrass itself in basic benchmark tests for its file-serving speed. That it runs the same carefully wrought and versatile operating system as its dearer brethren is a definite plus, making it suitable for small-scale business use as well as being turned to home entertainment duties.
9. Synology DS415play NAS
- Reviewed on: 15 July 14
- RRP: £372 inc. VAT
Synology’s RRP for the DS415play is £372 and at that price or the inevitably lower real shop prices the company should have a winner on its hands. The competing QNAP TS-469L is faster and has better specifications but is over £100 more expensive. When you combine the performance, price and the siren-like draw of DSM 5.0 this could be a crowd pleaser for the multimedia NAS market.
Read our Synology DS415play NAS review.
10. WD My Cloud EX2
- Reviewed on: 20 June 14
- RRP: £479 inc. VAT
The WD My Cloud EX2 has a few minor faults, but it’s easy to use and provides good performance and reliability at an attractive price. There are more sophisticated NAS drives available for larger businesses, but the EX2 provides all the features that home users and small businesses are likely to need, and presents them in a straightforward manner that will appeal to people who might not have used a NAS drive before.
Philips has new Hue goodies for you, including one that detects movement.
It’s actually not as creepy as it sounds. The company has announced more products for its Hue line of smart lights and accessories. The standout new gizmo is called Philips Hue Motion Sensor. It will allow Philips Hue users to automatically control their lights with their movements. The $39.95 – £34.99 in the UK – sensor connects to Hue Bridge, as it’s wireless and battery-powered, and can be positioned anywhere, such as a wall or shelf.
Once it’s in place, you can adjust its motion detection capabilities so that it can trigger certain actions (like turning lights on). Philips described the sensor as providing hands-free control and said it can guide you “safely throughout your home at night with lighting”. It’s also handy because you no longer must remember to turn lights off when leaving a room. The motion sensor will detect when you do and does all the work for you.
Some of the other customisation settings including changing the type of lighting from like a soft night light to scenes for daytime. It also has a built-in daylight sensor so it can turn on/off your lights based on the time of day. Up to 12 sensors can be connected to a bridge, too, giving you the ability to automate all the lights in your home. And Philips said the sensor can adjust lights within .5 seconds of activation, so it’s fast.
Philips has introduced updated bulbs as well. The Hue White and Color Ambiance A19 now come with more vibrant greens and blues. And finally, two new PhilipsHue White Ambiance bulb extensions have been announced, including BR-30 and GU-10 models. To buy any of this stuff, check out Philips Hue website,Amazon.com, and Best Buy in October 2016.