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Media Serving

With the general tour over, it's time to delve more deeply into the MSS' three key features: Media Serving, Backup and Remote Access.

Media Serving is supported through a Windows Media Connect (WMC) server for media serving to media players supporting WMC and those supporting only UPnP AV. The only configuration available for this feature is to enable / disable Media Library sharing on the Music, Photo and Video folders.

The iTunes server is actually handled by the Firefly media server, the open source media server previously known as mt-daapd that also supports the Roku SoundBridge audio player. The server runs on port 9999 and has a web interface (Figure 18) that can be reached there. You can login in as administrator with password firefly.

Normally, however, you'll use the Settings for iTunes Settings via the Console or CC to enable / disable the server, password protect access and set the scan interval for database refresh.

Firefly server web admin interface
Click to enlarge image

Figure 18: Firefly server web admin interface

I manually copied some of my ripped CD's to the MSS' Music folder, launched iTunes and all of the copied music was ready for play under the HP MediaSmart Server icon that appeared in the iTunes Source pane.

I don't normally use iTunes, so didn't have much in the iTunes library except some Windows Media Player sample files. But I entered my computer's username and password and set the scan time for 5 minutes and waited. After the scan time passed, the files were added to the MSS and I was able to select and play them from the iTunes MSS Source item.

Photo Websharing

In addition to music sharing, the MSS' Photo Websharing feature is exactly as it sounds—the ability to access photos stored on the MSS via a web browser. Actually the "photo" album supports both still (.jpg, .gif, .png, .bmp) and video formats (.mpg, .avi, .mov .wmv), but I only tried out still images.

But the implementation is disappointing, especially when compared to the built-in photo sharing features on NASes like the Synology DS107 series [reviewed] and Qnap TS-209/109 Pro [reviewed].

The most glaring omission is the inability of the MSS to auto-build a web-album from images that are already stored in its Photo folders. Instead, you have to browse to a location to upload photos. If you're running IE and agree to install an ActiveX control when prompted, you get an interface (Figure 19) that allows multiple files to be selected easily.

Uploading photos with IE

Figure 19: Uploading photos with IE

But if you're running FireFox or another browser that blocks or doesn't support ActiveX controls, you get the interface shown in Figure 20, which is painful to use if you have a lot of photos to upload.

Uploading photos with FireFox or without ActiveX plugin

Figure 20: Uploading photos with FireFox or without ActiveX plugin

Once the files are uploaded, browsing an album is straightforward, with both "filmstrip" and forward / back navigation controls (Figure 21).

Browsing a photo album

Figure 21: Browsing a photo album

There are a few other features to note:

  • Add Photos - You can set permissions so that "Visitors" can add photos to albums. These can be added automatically or held for admin approval.
  • Buy Prints - You can select photos to be printed and returned to you via Snapfish.
  • Save Photos - Select photos to download. (Much easier than uploading!)
  • Slideshow - Starts a slideshow (you can set the time between slides).

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