HP third gen media server gets new interface and improved Mac support (September 25th, 2009)
Product Manufacturer: Hewlett Packard
- Media Collector automates transfers
- Video Converter easy to use, configurable
- Features work on Mac or Windows platforms
- Backup works cross-platform
- Expandable to large storage capacities
- Easy-to-use interface
- Ships with 1.5TB drive
- H.264 video encoding
- Requires Windows PC for initial setup
- Some web-based tools launched in IE by default
- Media sharing sometimes requires manual configuration of ports
The device also works as a server for iTunes, which is a great option for users that don't want to clog their primary computers with 200GB of music files. Users accounts can be configured to allow family or friends to access content from any Internet-connected computer. A photo publishing interface can be used to upload images to snapfish, flickr, Picasa, and Facebook, although launching the publisher from the Console brings up Internet Explorer instead of the computer's default browser.
HP has released a free app for the iPhone and iPod touch that enables remote access and streaming. Converted videos stream well on a good connection, and the simple interface provides an easy way to show photos to friends or listen to music directly from the server hard drives.
Lacking aesthetic changes, the EX495 appeared to be a minor update to its predecessors. Taking a look at the improved specs even leads to an assumption that the device is simply faster than the earlier models and ships with higher capacity hard drives. While all of these changes are welcome, the most glaring and crucial difference involves the Home Server Console.
Although initial setup encountered a few bumps, which probably would have been prevented with a newer router, the updated software provides considerable improvements over the earlier versions. While capabilities have been expanded, the functions are still easy to work with even for users lacking advanced networking knowledge. The range of features are now supported on Macs, making the MediaSmart Server fit well in homes using both platforms.
For $700, the device is not the cheapest way to dive into home media management and distribution. The dual-core processor does shave time from video conversion, although the Media Collector feature and automated processes might make the difference hard to notice compared to the EX490 model which cuts $150 from the price tag.
The MediaSmart Server is a great choice for households that want to access all of their media content whether they are sitting in the living room, at a friend's house, or taking a walk in the park. The device helps to simplify the entire process by automating time-consuming steps typically required to make media available in so many different ways. At the same time, the system works as a central backup location for several computers. As the market for consumer-level server devices continues to expand, HP has developed a competitive hardware/software combination that does not require advanced knowledge to utilize advanced features.