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Updated 5/13/2009: Changing RAM and drive will not void warranty.

HP MediaSmart LX Series Server

At a Glance
Product HP MediaSmart Server LX Series (LX195)
Summary Single drive version of HP's Windows Home Server based NAS with 1.6 GHz Intel Atom CPU, 1 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
• No eSATA port
• Jumbo frames not supported from HP interface
• Limited backup options
• No media import or setup support for Mac OS

I became less skeptical of Windows Home Server as a network storage platform with the reduced Windows-centric approach taken by HP's second-generation, Intel-based EX485/487 MediaSmart Server. WHS isn't for everyone, especially those who are accustomed to RAID-based systems and like to be able to control precisely where their data and backups are stored.

But for folks who want easily-expandable storage and automatic backup of both clients and the NAS itself, WHS can be an attractive solution. Apparently, HP thinks so too and has decided to lower the entry price point for all its MediaSmart / WHS goodness by introducing the single (internal) drive MediaSmart LX series.

The LX includes all the features of its larger "EX" series siblings, except support for the iStream feature that streams photo, music and video libraries to an iPhone or iPod touch. Check the EX485/487 review if you want a walk-through of what the new MediaSmart can do, because I won't be repeating it here.

I have also seen references to the LX not supporting the HP Video Converter program, but didn't confirm this and it's not indicated in the spec comparison table in Figure 1.

LX195 spec comparison

Figure 1: LX195 size comparison

Figure 2 shows the LX195 isn't exactly tiny, standing taller than the four-drive QNAP TS-439 Pro directly to its right, but not quite as tall as the rightmost five-drive QNAP TS-509 Pro. (I'm comparing the QNAPs because I happened to have them on my bench.)

LX195 size comparison

Figure 2: LX195 size comparison

The 195's design is pretty simple. The front panel has Power, Hard Drive and Health lights, but continues the MediaSmart tradition of no network activity light and not having the Hard Drive light blink to indicate drive activity. The rear panel (Figure 3) has just a power jack, four USB 2.0 ports and a 10/100/1000 Ethernet port, but sadly no eSATA port. However, I think this is a key mistake for users who will outgrow the approximately 575 GB of storage left after 20 GB is devoted to the system volume (more on that later).

LX195 rear panel

Figure 3: LX195 rear panel

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