The Synology RT1900ac has all the features you’d expect from a Wi-Fi router, and brings some unique additions to the table. The comprehensive, but more usual, features include QoS, parental control, and traffic monitoring. There is also support for remote file access through SMB and AFP protocols, and Time Machine backup support. You can even plug in a 3/4G USB dongle and use that as your primary or backup internet connection.
The more unique add-ons are provided through Synology’s Package Center and currently include a VPN server, 24/7 download hub, Media Server and a Radius server.
All these features are accessed through the desktop-like interface that will be instantly familiar. It is very similar to Synology’s DSM, having a desktop with app shortcuts and a menu in the top left corner.
Opening up the Network Center you are presented with an overview of your network and Wi-Fi settings. It is here that you can control all the basic router settings and there are tabs for everything from wireless and internet settings to notifications, Traffic Control (QoS) and Parental Controls. Most of these are as you would expect, but the QoS deserves a special mention for providing an intuitive list of devices (to select their individual priority) and a super long list of applications to prioritise as you see fit (Gaming trumps Netflix, or the other way around – you choose). Setting QoS rules is really easy and intuitive. Similarly the Parental Controls are easy to implement, letting you choose from a selection of general rules (malicious/adult/gambling) or c?custom rules from a selection of twenty categories. You can also schedule internet access for individual devices, limiting your kids bedtime Skype sessions, yet allowing streaming to the household TV.
Notifications for important alerts can be set up through email, SMS, or Synology’s Push Service, ensuring that you are always aware of any problems, updates or malware detection.
The Storage & Printer app lets you set up your SD and USB devices, choosing access privileges, file services and printer settings. The file services on offer include SMB, AFP (with Time Machine support), FTP and WebDAV. User accounts and shared folders are all managed through the Privileges section, which is where you can also enforce minimum password requirements and two factor authentication for maximum password security.
If you want to manage the files that are on your attached storage, the File Management app does a good job. One useful feature is that you can share remote download links to your files, letting friends or colleagues access specific files simply.
Synology’s Security Advisor is included to help ensure you keep your network safe and secure. With a few clicks it will perform a security audit of your router’s settings, advising if it finds any areas to improve (passwords, malware, and network settings are all scrutinised). It works well, correcting a few settings that I had left insecure.
The Package Center is where you really start to see the potential of Synology’s SRM. This allows you to expand the capabilities of your router by installing a (currently limited) selection of applications. The current offerings include a UPnP Media Server, VPN server, DNS Server, RADIUS server and Synology’s fantastic Download Station (to read about this app see our review of the DS115).
There are also icons for the comprehensive help, information logging, managing your Synology account, and the support center.
Mobile devices are really well supported through the use of dedicated apps for Download Station, file access with DS file and the DS router app that changes router settings. DS router has a really easy to use interface, and lets you quickly setup a guest network, see traffic on the network or set device priorities for internet access.
Overall managing this powerful router is vastly simplified through the interface, but you can still get lost in the menus trying to find a specific setting or feature (this is where the search function comes into its own).
The Synology RT1900ac offers a complex set of features, but manages to tame things with the simplicity of SRM. If I could have wished for three extra things from Synology’s first effort it would have been additional USB ports, link aggregation support, and more apps. Until the next version, I don’t think many will be disappointed with the current set of features!