Upgrading appliances could save you money

Energy efficient.jpg

Focus on Energy’s Appliance Recycling Program is open to customers of participating Wisconsin utilities.

Participants must be residents of single-family homes or multifamily residences of three or fewer units. Two appliances may be recycled per household, per year.

Focus on Energy has recycled nearly 65,000 refrigerators and freezers since 2012.

[Source”timesofindia”]

‘GO INTO YOUR POLICE STATION AND TELL US YOU ARE ON HOLIDAY – BUT DON’T PUT IT ON FACEBOOK’

Police today urged householders to tell them when they’re on holiday — so officers can help keep an eye on their house

Story image for Door & Windows from NDTV

Ahead of the start of the trades fortnight, community officers are leading a crackdown on break-ins during the summer months — when those types of crimes peak.

PC Andy Caulfield, based at Longhaugh Police Station, is one of those heading up the campaign to halt the crooks.

And he says one option open to people who are heading off on holiday is to alert police to their absence.

He told the Tele: “Come into your local police station and let us know you’re away.

“We can include it in our patrol matrix and give it passing attention.

“And if you have a burglar alarm, please use it.

“Set it, and notify us of who you have left a key with in case it goes off in error and we need to gain access.

“We’re just trying to remind people to take those extra 30 seconds to make sure everything is secure before you leave and that way you are less at risk of being a victim of crime.

“The impact on people that have been a victim of a theft or a break-in is long-lasting.

“It stays with you forever.”

PC Caulfield says officers have dealt with “numerous” break-ins in recent weeks, with thieves looking for tell-tale signs that homes have been left unsecured.

He said: “There is more of an opportunity for thieves to take advantage of the good weather.

“People will unconsciously leave their possessions lying out in the open or leave doors or windows open – that increases the risk.

“Recently, some people had a bit of work done to the rear of their property.

“They left ground-floor windows open to the rear to air out fumes.

“They went out shopping, came back, and someone had been in through the window and gained access to the whole property.

“I believe it was an opportunist who made off with a laptop and iPod.”

Thieves tend to aim for items which are easy to conceal or carry in a bag that can be moved on quickly.

“They can be away without the neighbours seeing anything,” PC Caulfield said.

“It’s the idea that someone outwith your friends and family has been in your place of residence, your place of comfort, and that place can suddenly feel quite vulnerable.

“By simply locking windows and doors if you’re popping out, or nipping next door, you can make sure your property is properly secured.

“You can always open doors and windows later on for fresh air.”

Even windows on upper floors aren’t always safe from the crooks, with a recent reported case involving a criminal using a ladder from the side of a house to climb in through a first-floor window.

And even someone’s Facebook profile can leave an opportunity for someone to target a house.

PC Caulfield said: “If you state on social media that you’re going out, you’ve advertised that you won’t be in,” he said, “so make sure your home is secured.”

[Source”pcworld”]

BOG OFFER How you can get two FREE Vue cinema tickets for cleaning your toilet

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.

Customers who want to bag the deal just need to spend £3 on any Finish, Vanish, Dettol or Airwick cleaning products

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Customers who want to bag the deal just need to spend £3 on any Finish, Vanish, Dettol or Airwick cleaning products

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”]

Here’s how much you need to earn to rent a 2-bedroom apartment in 15 of America’s biggest cities

Los Angeles

Anton_Ivanov/Shutterstock …

One-third of Americans overpay for housing, and renters have it the worst .In fact, almost half spend over 30% of their incomes on rent, exceeding the standard measure of affordability, according to the 2017 State of the Nation’s Housing report, published by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.

In addition to transportation and food, housing is one of the biggest expenses Americans have. Cutting back on these things could mean more savings in the bank and even a ticket to early retirement.

In its latest report , SmartAsset calculated the income needed to afford rent in 15 major US cities. That is, the salary a household must earn to spend a comfortable 28% of its income on rent for a two-bedroom apartment. Rent prices were pulled from RENTCafe ‘s January 2017 report.

Below, check out how much you need to earn to pay rent in San Francisco, New York, Boston, and 12 more of America’s major metro areas.

[Source”cnbc”]

6 do’s and don’ts for decorating a bathroom that won’t embarrass you in front of guests

Whether your bathroom is your own personal spa or a tiny space shared with three roommates, it should be a place of order, freshness and calm.

Take a good, hard look around, says designer Shazalynn Cavin-Winfrey of SCW Interiors in Alexandria. “The perfect look and feel of a bathroom is one that meets the end users’ needs,” she says. “It’s different for everyone, but I think that a space that is functional and flexible is key. And your bathroom should be the cleanest room in your home.”

Cavin-Winfrey says she is amazed at how many things people leave scattered on bathroom vanities, shelves and floors. “I think a bathroom should always be uncluttered. The average human makes so many choices and scans so much information in a given day — your daily rituals at home should be easy to maintain and not require any extra work to find things you need.” She says always keeping the bathroom tidy has its benefits, including being ready for guests at all times. “That can help make entertaining stress-free,” she says.

Whether you have a dedicated powder room for guests or everyone must share the one bathroom in your home, these dos and don’ts might help you clean up your act.

Don’t put a rug in your bathroom. A bathroom is not a place for wall-to-wall carpeting or area rugs. These cannot be properly cleaned in this environment. Think of the germs on a bathroom floor and how a damp rug or mat could be a magnet for mold. ­Cavin-Winfrey suggests providing a machine-washable bath mat (with or without rubber backing) for use right after a shower or bath. Then let this dry on the side of the tub or shower when not in use. She uses the no-slip CB2 lateral teak bath mat ($40, cb2.com).

Do stock both bar and liquid soap. In a powder room, Cavin-Winfrey prefers a pump bottle so there is no gooey soap bar left in a pool of water by a previous guest. She would choose ElizabethW’s Vetiver hand wash ($22, elizabethw.com). If you have a guest staying the night, it’s a nice welcoming gesture to leave a fresh bar of soap atop a stack of clean towels on the bed. She likes Crabtree & Evelyn goat milk soap ($8, crabtree-evelyn.com).

Don’t think of toilet paper as an accessory. Stacking a Costco-size tower of toilet paper rolls next to the toilet is not necessary or attractive. Why not reduce clutter and store your roll stockpile in a linen closet or in the garage? If you like to keep a roll or two nearby, use a small holder that fits nicely on the tank or discreetly on the floor. So many of her clients needed an attractive TP organizer, Cavin-Winfrey now sells this Matahari woven rattan two-roll model ($72.50, scwinteriors.com). Also, it’s thoughtful to have a box of tissues around so guests won’t have to rip off a piece of toilet paper to blow their nose or adjust makeup. Extra points for a tissue box cover, such as the one in white lacquer from the Container Store ($13, containerstore.com)

Do minimize products. Your shower, bathtub ledges and countertops should not look like you are a tester for a shampoo or beauty company. Eliminate the excess and store items not used daily elsewhere. “I myself am a product junkie but find unique ways to contain clutter with small trays around the tub or the vanity,” Cavin-Winfrey says. “If your shower doesn’t have an integrated niche, consider wire baskets to mount on the tile.” She prefers the WEBI 12½ -inch rectangular stainless-steel wire caddy ($29, amazon.com), which should be fixed to the wall. As for prescription drugs, medications or personal-hygiene products, tuck them inside a cabinet or drawer.

Don’t use plastic bags to line bathroom trash cans. Do you want to take your style tips from motels? Hopefully not, so don’t use your Target bag as a trash liner, Cavin-Winfrey says, or buy rolls of mini trash-can liners. It seems wrong for the planet to be buying small plastic bags to corral trash in your teeny-tiny wastebasket, she says. Instead, buy good-looking metal or recycled plastic wastebaskets that can be easily and frequently wiped out and sanitized. This hammered-nickel wastebasket ($39, potterybarn.com) fits the bill.

Do use hooks for bath towels, not bars. How many people neatly fold their large towels when they hang them up over a bar? Do you really expect guests to do that? Hanging towels on an oversize hook makes them dry faster and looks less messy, Cavin-Winfrey says. She often uses the large Restoration Hardware Spritz hook ($39, restorationhardware.com) in her projects. Using a bar is fine for hand towels, though.

[Source”indianexpress”]

Check out the best kitchen appliances you can buy for $5K

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? We’ve got you covered.)

Here are the best refrigerators, ovens and dishwashers you can buy for a total of $5,000 or less:

Refrigerators

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.

The freezer on the Whirlpool WRB322DMBB is located below the refrigerator.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Whirlpool WRB322DMBB, $1,000

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.

The Samsung RH25H5611SR is a stainless-steel, side-by-side refrigerator.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Samsung RH25H5611SR, $1,400

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.

Stoves

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.

kenmore-fsr95073-induction-range-product-photos-1.jpg
The Kenmore 95073 is one of the least expensive induction ranges we’ve tested.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Kenmore 95073, $1,300

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.

The Electrolux EI30EF45QS is an electric, slide-in range.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Electrolux EI30EF45QS, $2,065

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.

[Source”indianexpress”]

Still talk on the phone? You can make calls with this Viio Vezzo smart mirror

Image result for Still talk on the phone? You can make calls with this Viio Vezzo smart mirror

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.

Viio features

  • 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

 
[Source:- CNET]

 

Best Blu-ray players 2017 UK: the most popular Blu-ray and DVD players you can buy in the UK, including 3D Blu-ray players | 3D Blu-ray player reviews

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.

Samsung BD-J4500

Samsung BD-J4500

  • 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

Sony BDP-S1500

Sony BDP-S1500

  • 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

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

LG BP250

LG BP250

  • 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

Samsung BD-J5500

Samsung BD-J5500

  • 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

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

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

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

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.

 

[Source:- PCA]

Kitchen extensions: All the inspiration and advice you need

Colour code kitchen zones

Make large, open-plan spaces work by using colour to define different functions. Try white, handleless cabinetry for a practical, easy-to-maintain cooking and food preparation area. Introduce a contrast shade on a breakfast bar island to signpost the change of function, but keep the worktop white to indicate that this is a dual-function surface. For dining, go unfinished wood – in keeping with its proximity to the patio, this table and chairs could be mistaken for garden furniture. Unify the whole with timber flooring, a wooden sideboard and a row of wooden bar stools.

 

 

[Source:- IH]

best NAS drives 2017 UK: The best network storage you can buy in the UK

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?

Capacity

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

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.

Hot swap

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.

Remote connectivity

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.

Transcoding

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.

Apps

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

Synology 216+II NAS

  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • 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

Asustor AS1004T

  • Rating:
  • 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

QNAP TS 251A

  • Rating:
  • 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

WD My Cloud Mirror 4TB

  • Rating:
  • 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

Synology DS115j

  • Rating:
  • 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

Netgear ReadyNAS RN212

  • Rating:
  • 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

Synology DiskStation DS216play

  • Rating:
  • 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

Synology DS414j

  • Rating:
  • 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

Synology DS415play NAS

  • Rating:
  • 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

WD My Cloud EX2

  • Rating:
  • 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.

 

[Source:- PCA]