Ramblings of a Home Server User

November 23, 2007

Review – HP MediaSmart Server EX475

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 1:39 am

Ease of use, dependability, reliability, excellent feature set, secure, visually appealing. All words that describe one of what I would consider to be the best products of 2007. I’m talking about the HP MediaSmart Server powered by Microsoft Windows Home Server. While I am usually one of the last people to recommend HP products to friends and family, I am starting to put more faith in HP and the quality of the products they produce. Microsoft has also done a great job with the first version of Windows Home Server.

I recently received my MediaSmart Server EX475, and I was impressed the moment I opened the box. Right on top was an excellent setup poster that was very easy to read and follow. In a nutshell, all you have to do is take the server out of the box, plug it in to power and a wired network connection, and then press the power button on the back of the unit. When the server has started up, you install the Windows Home Server connector, and it will walk you through the initial setup of your MediaSmart server.

I can safely say that setting up this server is truly a “piece of cake.” It takes about 15-20 minutes to go from unboxing to first PC having the connector installed. HP has done an excellent job in helping the non-technical user through the setup process. They have a setup assistant that walks you through creation of the first user account, configuring your remote access website, configuring software updates, media sharing, and HP’s Photo sharing application, Photo Webshare.

There is an excellent feature set that HP has added to the already excellent Windows Home Server platform. HP has added photo sharing functionality, iTunes music library sharing, TZO dynamic DNS support to bring your own domain name to your server for Remote Access, and integrated hardware monitoring.

The photo sharing functionality is my favorite feature of the HP MediaSmart server. It includes the ability to add as many users as you wish, send e-mail notifications, gallery access restrictions based on user or group membership, slideshows, and you any member can send your photos to Snapfish, a service of HP, and have digital printed created and mailed to them.

iTunes music sharing has been integrated by using Firefly Media Server, and is a snap to setup. Turn it on, set the name of the library, password protection (optional), and how often you want the server to search for new music, and you’re all set. For those wondering if you can use your purchased music from iTunes with the MediaSmart Server iTunes music sharing feature, the answer to that question is yes, and all you will need to do is when you play the music on a home PC that has not seen that music before is authorize the machine with the Apple ID that you purchased the music with and you are all set.

My initial impressions of the HP MediaSmart Server are wonderful. If I was in charge of creating TIME’s top inventions of the year list, the HP MediaSmart Server would be at the top. HP did an excellent job of partnering with Microsoft from the very beginning, and it shows. The integration is amazing, and everything works right out of the box with no issues. For this holiday season, the MediaSmart Server is at the top of my list for technology gift recommendations.

Rating: 10 out of 10 – I love this product!!!

Check out screenshots and photos here

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2 Comments »

  1. Your experience is VERY different from mine. My MediaSmart Server has failed to connect, despite many hours of attempts. (This is on a recent Windows Vista Ultimate system, Linksys router… everything very vanilla.)

    The fact that this beast refuses to act like a simple NAS drive, but insists on being “a server,” has made things more difficult. It’s all or nothing… if the device works, I’m sure it’s easy! But if it doesn’t… all the security and server crap make it a nightmare to troubleshoot. And I’m a PC professional who’s fairly experienced with networking stuff. A home user would find the various troubleshooting “help” documents laughable. (Disable dynamic DNS??? Connect to the IP address??? Good luck!)

    I’m still working on getting the device to work, and I’m sure that when (if?) it does I’ll like it a lot better. But so far I’m at 0 out of 10. And counting…

    Comment by n0mad — December 7, 2007 @ 6:05 am

  2. Update: got it working, after much trial and error. The solution turned out to be fairly simple: I needed a full Windows Update on my installation of Windows Vista Ultimate. Don’t know why the setup software couldn’t have told me that, or supplied the updated component itself… The software footprint is fairly massive, so you’d expect it to be more bulletproof.

    Comment by n0mad — December 11, 2007 @ 4:35 pm


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