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On The Inside

Disassembly of the MSS is fairly simple if you go through the right steps.  First, power it down, remove all of the drives (make sure to label each drive with its bay number; Windows Home Server is installed on the bottom drive.)  Then, remove two small cross-head screws from the right side of the front grill and unplug the cable.  Figure 5 shows the partially disassembled front panel. 

Partially disassembled MediaSmart Server

Figure 5: Partially disassembled MediaSmart Server

Next, remove the top cover by releasing a snap from inside the now-empty drive bay.   From the top, move the two blue levers to release the backplane with the drive connectors.  Then unplug the three cables and remove the backplane. Finally, unscrew the two screws that secure the power supply and PCB assembly and remove.  Figure 6 shows the component side of the PCB assembly.

Component side of the main PCB Assembly
Click to enlarge image

Figure 6: Component side of the main PCB Assembly

Under the large heat sink, you"ll discover that the MSS is powered by an Intel Celeron 440 processor running at 2 GHz.  On the right side of the PCB, there is a single 240 pin 2GB DDR2-800 DIMM.  Under the small heat sink, the Northbridge chipset is an Intel G33.  The Southbridge chipset, not covered by a heat sink is an Intel 82081.  The Samsung chip is 256 MB of flash. The marking on the Realtek gigabit Ethernet chip was difficult to read, but it is probably an RTL8111.

New Features

If the only upgrades were the addition of beefed up hardware, larger capacities, and a new user interface, the second generation MSS wouldn't be much of a story.  Fortunately, there are quite a few new features:

  • Media Collector (PC Only)
  • Power Management
  • MSS Control Center for Mac OS 10.5
  • Apple Time Machine data store
  • Remote Media Streaming
  • HP Photo Publisher
  • HP Photo Viewer
  • Server Online Backup

Media Collector

The Media Collector is part of the WHS Connector. It collects audio, photo and video files from each Windows computer that has the WHS Connector installed and copies the files to the appropriate share (Music, Photo, Video) on the server. Clicking on the Media Collector icon in the server console opens the configuration screen shown in Figure 7.

HP MediaSmart Media Collector
Click to enlarge image

Figure 7: HP MediaSmart Media Collector

The first tab selects the computers that participate in the media collection and the frequency of the media collection scan.  In the screenshot above, I was preparing to add "Toshiba" to the list of scanned computers.  The next three tabs control how photos, music and videos are collected.  Figure 8 shows the options available for collecting music.

Media Collector options for collecting music

Figure 8: Media Collector options for collecting music

While the Media Collector did successfully collect files from the configured computers, there is room for improvement.  First, both the general settings as well as the settings for each media type apply to all computers.  You can't, for example, change the music source for just one computer. 

Second, unlike the Linksys by Cisco Media Hub, which provides an Explorer-like tree for selecting directories for inclusion, your directory selection options are quite limited.  In fact, under Music, I made the mistake of clicking on "All Folders".  All folders, I learned, includes all folders on mapped network drives as well as local drives.  Since I had a copy of my iTunes library archived on another NAS with a mapped drive, the Media Collector grabbed my entire iTunes library using the PC folder structure! 

Finally, the UI on the computer doesn't show you that the file copy is active, or percentage that has been completed.  You also can't stop a collection session in progress. It would also be nice if a client could force a scan for media. But the client computer really has no control over the collection process.

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