HP MediaSmart Server LX195 Review - HotHardware

HP MediaSmart Server LX195 Review

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Windows Home Server is quite possibly one of Microsoft's most unheralded operating systems. Many speak longingly of Windows XP, jokingly of Windows ME, disappointedly of Windows Vista, and hopefully of Windows 7. But seldom discussed is the little-known and little-used operating system designed to be installed on a home server and act as a central depository for serving media and other files, as well as a place to backup your home systems' files. For those who have used it, many praise Windows Home Server's functionality and performance--especially since Microsoft has made some significant updates to the OS recently. (Windows Home Server is actually based on Microsoft's Windows Server 2003.)

It is possible to purchase the Windows Home Server OS and install it yourself on your own rig: you can download or order a free 120-day trial of the OS from Microsoft
here. Many users, however, choose to buy home servers with the Windows Home Server OS already installed. Hewlett-Packard (HP) was the first such vendor to provide a system with Windows Home Server pre-installed, with its MediaSmart Server series. HP was soon joined by a short list of other system vendors, including Niveus and Velocity Micro. A number of the existing Windows Home Server offerings are moderately priced, with several selling for well below $1,000. However, before HP's just-launched, $399.99 (MSRP) HP MediaSmart Server LX195, none of them filtered down to a mainstream budget price point.



HP presently offers three different HP MediaSmart Server options (its older models have been phased out). The two top models, the HP MediaSmart Server EX485 ($599.99 MSRP) and EX487 ($749.99 MSRP) both come with a total of four user-serviceable drive bays--these two models are identical to each other, with the exception that the EX485 comes with a single 750GB hard drive and the EX487 comes with two 750GB drives (for 1.5TB total storage). The LX195 uses a less-powerful processor, less RAM, only one (non-user-serviceable) drive bay with a 640GB hard drive, and a smaller form-factor than the EX series (the EX series also includes an eSATA port, which the LX195 lacks). The installed version of the software is also a bit different between the EX series and LX195--with the EX series having a bit more functionality than the LX195 (more on this a later).



HP MediaSmart Server LX195
Specifications and Features

Storage Capacity:
Total storage capacity expandable up to:
Operating system:
Processor:
Memory:
Drive bays:
Hard drive:
Connectivity:
 
Compatibility:
Dimension:
Package contents:

640GB

5TB
Windows Home Server
1.6GHz Intel Atom 230
1 GB RAM
1 bay
640GB 7200rpm SATA
10/100/1000 RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet port; (4) USB 2.0 ports
Windows XP, Windows Vista, Mac OS X 10.5
8.2x3.9x8.0-inches (HWD)
HP MediaSmart Server, power adapter and cable, Ethernet cable, software installation disc, PC restore disc, server recovery disc, setup poster and HP support guides

MSRP: $399.99

The LX195 is fairly easy to setup and use, but the potential gotchas and myriad of configuration options are numerous. The included two-page MediaSmart Server Setup Poster provides minimal directions, with most of the setup conducted by the software installation wizard. While a 230-page, HP MediaSmart Server User's Guide exists, oddly it is not included on the installation CD; but you can download it from HP's site here (PDF).
 

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I have one question, and it would be really awesome if you guys could answer this for me. I so want to buy this but if it doesnt support "any" codec then its a lost cause. I see that it has the twonky server installed, which is great, but my problem with the twonky server is that you can't add codec support to it. The hope i see is in the Windows Server which I assume to be a kin to Windows Media Player which should allow transencoding of video that I can process with pretty much any installed codec -- being that this is windows. So my question is, have you guys tested this ability out if it exists? Without this it's just easier and more practical for one to just build a dedicated windows xp streaming box. Thanks for any replies.

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The LX195 does not currently support video streaming through any of its interfaces. You can, however, stream video from it as a file server--which means that the appropriate codecs will need to be installed on the client. There will be an update to the software this fall that will add integrated video streaming.

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Yeah, what he said! :) Seriously, nice work on this one, Dan. I'm sort of jonesing for one but will wait for the update to be pushed out.

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As to not to beat a dead horse, just for clarification -- the type of streaming your talking about here as far the update is concerned is trans-encode streaming?

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