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 MediaSmart Servers have expanded support for Mac systems, although plugging the device into a router and attempting the initial configuration from a Mac quickly leads to the realization that you still need a Windows computer. After setting up the system in Windows, however, the server can be managed from the Home Server Console running on either platform.
Getting the server up and running was a breeze, although enabling the media sharing function required a bit of manual tweaking on a Belkin router. Even though the router supports UPnP, the system had trouble configuring the port settings correctly. The problem was not necessarily the fault of the server, although the router was able to support media sharing functions on other NAS systems without manually adjusting any settings. All of the necessary port information was available on HP's website.
Overall, the new Console is well organized and easy to use. Users can take a quick peek at a Tour menu which provides a basic overview of the various functions. Basic status information shows storage space, software updates, remote access status, power management information, network usage and continuously updated information on the CPU and memory utilization.
HP did a great job extending more services to support Macs, especially with the increasing prevalence of mixed-platform homes. The same Console layout is provided for both Mac and Windows systems. Previous MediaSmart servers were fairly limited in their Mac functionality, lacking several important features such as full-system Time Machine backup and Media Collector support.
Mac users will find a HP server icon on the status bar, where they can choose to open the web-based home page, the Console, or the server preferences. The Media Collector feature, which automatically scans for media, listed all of the network-connected Windows and Mac computers without a problem. Users can choose which computers to scan before the system tracks any new media and downloads it locally to the server.
Media Collector works great on both platforms. A variety of settings are provided, allowing certain types of content to be selectively ignored or added to the server. Users can choose to organize by folder structure or information such as artist/album for music or dates for images. The company has improved the function to work as a background service. As new content is downloaded on a computer, it is quickly copied to the server instead of waiting for the delay between periodic scans. The function works great, especially if the computers are wired to the router or communicating via 802.11n. The Console shows how many files have been transferred, how many are waiting to be migrated, and the number of ignored items.
The Server preferences window allows users to select the partition size to use as a dedicated Time Machine backup on the server. Preparing a 318GB area only took approximately three minutes to complete. Once the backup area has been created, a dialogue pops up to confirm Time Machine backups using the HP server. The rest of the options are available through the standard Time Machine preferences.