There are a few other NAS servers that use laptop hard drives, such as the Buffalo LinkStation Mini (most NAS servers use the regular 3.5-inch desktop hard drives). However, the Synology DS409Slim is the first we've seen that offers advanced functionality, including a variety of RAID configurations.
The biggest advantage of supporting small hard drives is the reduction in size of the device. Measuring only 4.7 inches by 4.1 inches by 5.6 inches, the DS409slim is significantly smaller than other four-bay NAS servers that support 3.5-inch hard drives. According to Synology, the DS409Slim consumes much less energy than other NAS servers of the same performance.
Despite its compact physical size, the DS409slim comes with impressive specifications, including a 1.2GHz CPU, 128MB DDR2 RAM, one Gigabit Ethernet port, two USB 2.0 ports, and one eSATA port. The new NAS supports up to four 2.5-inch SATA hard drives with up to 500GB each, which is currently the largest capacity for hard drives of this size. The hard drives are hot-swappable and can be set up in a variety of configurations including JBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 6.
Like the DS209+, the DS409slim is powered by Synology Ajax-based Disk Station Manager 2.1 firmware, which supports Windows ADS integration, cross-platform data sharing, several backup alternatives, and a vast amount of multimedia applications. Examples of these applications include a download station that supports BitTorrent, FTP, HTTP, eMule, and NZB; an audio station that supports Internet radio stations, and iPod playback with connected USB speakers; and support for a variety of media-streaming standards that let users stream multimedia files to set-top boxes or game consoles including the Sony PS3 and Microsoft Xbox 360.
Synology also announced at the end of June that its upcoming version 2.2 of the DSM firmware will be DLNA-compliant. Users will be able to update to this version for free when it's released in September.
The DS409slim is available for purchase now with a street price of about $400 without hard drives.