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Introduction

HP MediaSmart Server

At a Glance
Product HP MediaSmart Server (EX485 / EX487)
Summary Refreshed version of HP's Windows Home Server based NAS with 2 GHz Intel Celeron CPU, 2 GB RAM and Mac OS friendliness.
Pros • Simple to set up and use
• Flexible storage expansion with no need to save / restore data
• High performance
• Automatic media import
• Bundled backup software for Windows and Mac OS
Cons •10 user limit
• Jumbo frames not supported from HP interface
• Limited backup options
• No media import or setup support for Mac OS

Our review of HP's first-generation MediaSmart Server, based on Microsoft's Windows Home Server found that it lacked features found in less-expensive NASes. We also didn't care much for the once-a-day-only backup options and found the web photo sharing to be sub-par.

Now, just a little over a year later, the second generation of the HP MediaSmart Server is here, sporting new, more powerful hardware and addressing some, but not all, of the first generation's shortcomings. So I set out to see whether HP's (and Microsoft's) changes make the MediaSmart a more attractive choice as a home or small-business NAS.

Overview

As you might suspect with a second-generation product, many of the changes to the MediaSmart Server are evolutionary rather than revolutionary.  The case hasn't changed much, nor has the basic architecture of the product.  So I won't be going into great detail on those features that have already been covered in the original review of the product and instead focus on what's new.

Like its first generation sibling, in order to manage the server, backup client computers, or collect media files from client computers, you must install the Windows Home Server Connector application ( Figure 1). 

Windows Home Server Connector Installation

Figure 1: Windows Home Server Connector Installation

The WHS Connector installation also installs a tray icon (Figure 2) that shows the network's "health" (green=healthy) as well as options to wake the computer for a backup and a link to the management console. 

WHS Connector tray icon

Figure 2: WHS Connector tray icon

A desktop icon, installed by default for all users, provides access to the redesigned MediaSmart Control Center application (Figure 3).  The top row of icons takes you to either the root of the device or the Photo, Music or Video shares.  The Tools, shown in the second row, take you to the Photo Publisher application, provide access to the server console, force an immediate backup or wake the server if it's currently sleeping. Help and Support options (as well as an HP shopping option) are on the third row.

MediaSmart Control Center

Figure 3: MediaSmart Control Center

The server console has been completely redesigned for the second generation of the MediaSmart Server.  In addition to an aesthetically-improved look, the new console, shown in Figure 4, provides access to many of the MSS' new features.

MediaSmart Server Console

Figure 4: MediaSmart Server Console

I'll have to admit, the MSS is the first NAS I've ever reviewed that requires an application to access the server console.   Virtually every other NAS has a browser interface, which makes remote administration less of a challenge (and client OS independent). It took quite some time to present the console home page after typing in the administrator password.

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