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Aug072009

HP MediaSmart Server LX195: Podcast #385

Imagine with me, if you will, a day when a small box no bigger than a standard dictionary will be able to hold as many pictures as you can ever take, as many songs as you could ever listen to and a ton of movies and video as well. That day has come, and HP calls it the MediaSmart Server LX195. We got a chance to play around with one, and really liked it.

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HP MediaSmart Server LX195

(Buy Now $499)

Imagine with me, if you will, a day when a small box no bigger than a standard dictionary will be able to hold as many pictures as you can ever take, as many songs as you could ever listen to and a ton of movies and video as well. That day has come, and HP calls it the MediaSmart Server LX195. We got a chance to play around with one, and really liked it.

Specs:

  • Microsoft Windows Home Server
  • Intel 1.6 GHZ Atom Processor 230
  • 1GB DDR2 DRAM
  • 1 X 640 GB SATA 7200 RPM
  • 4 USB 2.0 ports
  • Expandability limited only by drive sizes - Assuming 1 TB drives, total capacity (internal and external) = 5 TB
  • 4" x 8" x 8"
  • Whisper Quiet (25 degrees C < 25 dba at one meter)

 

Set-up

In all honesty, it took us two LX195s before we could get it up and running. But since we get demo units, we prefer to blame the problems with the first unit on the previous reviewer. That's allot easier to do than admit we were only seeing a flurry of id10t errors.

The second unit was a snap to set up. It requires a hard-wired connection to your Ethernet network, but with that and a power cord, it's completely installed. Hit the power button, it gets an IP address from your router and you're off to the races. You use any standard browser to connect to the server and download the software. It takes about 15 minutes to download, install and configure before you're ready to use it. But it's all very simple and wizard driven.

All you have to do is turn on the features you want to use and set a few schedules for when the unit should run backups or aggregate media. It's actually really easy.

Use

Once you have it setup, you simply pop open the software and configure it to do whatever you want it to do. It is primarily designed to backup all the computers on your network and share all your media files in one central location.

Digital Media

HP tells us that the MediaSmart server was designed for digital media from the ground up. It allows you to access your media anywhere on your home network or even away from home with any Internet-connected computer. So you can stream music, watch movies and show off your photos anywhere, anytime.

It also includes TwonkyMedia as a DLNA server, so you can stream movies and music to your TVs using any DLNA player like the Xbox 360 or PlayStation3. If you're more of an iTunes user, the MediaSmart Server also includes a Server for iTunes. This server allows you to stream your music and playlists to computers that are running iTunes, or compatible devices - including protected content.

Here's the cool part, the LX195 considers every drive attached to it to be part of one big "storage pool." So as you run out of space, you simply add another drive and you don't need to make any other configuration changes. Media can span multiple drives, but still be accessible through one shared folder.

Automatic backup

More than just a media aggregator and server, the LX195 is also a central backup system for all your home computers. You can automatically manage daily backup, virus protection, media collection, and power management, all behind the scenes. Backups work with Windows using Microsoft Windows Home Server Backup and with Mac using Apple Time Machine. For those who want even more protection, you can sign up for an Amazon S3 account and have your data automatically copied off-site for a little extra peace of mind. Note - While the MediaSmart Server is Mac compatible it requires a PC to set it up for the first time.

Other features

The LX195 can be used as a remote access gateway, allowing you and anyone you give access to, the ability to access files on the server and even direct access to supported computers from any location (XP Pro SP2, Media Center Edition 2005 SP2, or Vista Ultimate). You can actually share full resolution images without spending hours trying to upload them to a sharing site. You can also upload files to the server from a remote computer.

Conclusion

If you're looking for a central server to manage all your digital media and do automatic backups, and you want it to work seamlessly with PCs and Macs, the HP MediaSmart server is an excellent choice. The included 640 GB of storage should get you going, but using the 4 USB ports you can literally make it as big as you want. And for under $300, you really won't find much out there that can compete.

 

Download Episode #385

Reader Comments (9)

You can really take advantage of the redundancy options of Windows Home Server by moving up to the HP EX485 or EX487. With the 485 or 487 you also get streaming video, iStream, and the HP Video Converter. iStream will stream video to your iPhone via WiFi or 3G. The EX48x line is more expensive but also allows you to hot-plug 4 internal drives instead of adding external drives.
Great show guys.

Dave
homeservershow.com

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDave

A non-redundant, low capacity NAS, might be barely OK for someone who takes a couple of family snapshots each year with a cheap point and shoot. However, your statement, "...will be able to hold as many pictures as you can ever take...", is ridiculous for anyone with a DSLR that shoots RAW.

Our SuperMicro server at home runs Raid 6 with 16TB and will be upgraded to 32TB as less expensive 2TB enterprise level drives become available. This for one, very active non-professional photographer.

I would never use a single drive NAS for photos, even with periodic external backup, the risk of drive failure is too high.

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPhotoGuy

I just listened to the podcast and agree with what was said. For once I was actually ahead of the curve since I got a lx195 about a month ago. Mine setup without issue btw in about 5 minutes.

One thing that I think is very important though was missed and that is backup of data. The LX195 does have a backup mechanism inside the server itself through folder duplication, as long as you have one external hard drive. You click a flag and the folder is duplicated on both the internal drive and an external one to prevent issues with one drive failing as mentioned above. As I was looking to get one all I found was people saying that it didn't do the raid backup and this had me doubting the product. One review though actually discussed this feature and put it over the top for me to get. Now it is not raid but simply duplication as I understand it but I would bet that most people who are leaving comments such as above are not aware of this feature or maybe I am missing something important.

For me though this is actually a better approach I have found then the true raid backup of everything. My server is largely filled with old tv recording,photos and the random document. I backup the documents and the photos I want to be sure to save (family vacations and weddings and such) the 50% of other stuff I don't worry about. Though important photos also get burned to dvds. But most of my media I would not be too concerned about if it is lost, if you are though just get another external hard drive and you can have backups of everything there also.

For the record though I have not had a drive fail yet so have not tested all of this.

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterbrad

This is a great product for the average consumer with some music and pictures to keep up with who won't needt to expand much. But if you're like you'd need something more expandable. I have a Windows Home Server setup and i'm now up to 10 drives with 9TB with half of that used for my HD movie collection. So it depends on the usage whether or not this is a good fit or not. WHS is really easy to use.

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterncinsguy

Maybe I should have said "as many pictures as I could ever take, as many songs as I could ever listen to and a ton of movies and video as well..." But that doesn't change the fact that you can easily make it a 5 TB storage system (which holds a HECK of a lot of stuff). And it's incredibly easy to use.

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBraden

As to your response to the email on the OPPO BDP-83 region free possibility, it takes either a hardware mod or a hacked firmware mod to get region free capabilities on the -83. The special remote code reportedly does not work.

BTW, I'm a very happy OPPO owner thanks to you guys puttng me on to OPPO via the podcast.

Mike

August 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFTWMike

What about AppleTV? The statement "This server allows you to stream your music and playlists to computers that are running iTunes, or compatible devices - including protected content." hints that an AppleTV will play content off the server.

I run windows, and I need to keep iTunes running so that all the movie content is available on the AppleTV. If this replace my need to keep iTunes running, I'm sold (the lower price helps too).

August 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRob

I've been a WHS user for over a year now I think. I have a self built box that currently has grown to about 3TB of storage space (3x500GB, 1x750TB, 1x1TB). I'm running a low power AMD 4850e processor to keep power draw down as much as possible while still being cheap, and have just used a bunch of hand-me-down drives from other systems that I've accumulated.

The automated back up and restore from bare metal functionality has already saved me a couple of times and is well worth the price of the hardware in and of itself. Add to that the ability to store and serve all my media content (DVDs, recorded TV, pics, music, docs folders, podcasts, etc) through the house via Windows Media Center or other client software, and I really don't know how I lived without it.

On top of that, you get SSL secured internet access to all that media (how much is that worth in and of itself?). Then add on remote desktop functionality to any PC on the network (and using some add ons, even the ability to wake those machines up if they are asleep), and its one of the most functional things I've set up on my network in a long time.

Highly recommended. The box you guys reviewed to me is like starter box. WHS IMO really does it's best work with at least two drives for data mirroring reasons.

August 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAndy S

Web casting, or http://www.vsworld.com/?loadSwf=swf/streaming.swf broadcasting over the internet, is a media file (audio-video mostly) distributed over the internet using streaming media technology. Streaming implies media played as a continuous stream and received real time by the browser (end user). Streaming technology enables a single content source to be distributed to many simultaneous viewers. http://www.vsworld.com/?loadSwf=swf/streaming.swf Streaming video bandwidth is typically calculated in gigabytes of data transferred. It is important to estimate how many viewers you can reach, for example in a http://www.vsworld.com/?loadSwf=swf/webcast.swf live webcast, given your bandwidth constraints or conversely, if you are expecting a certain audience size, what bandwidth resources you need to deploy.

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