HP MediaSmart Server EX490 / EX495 Hands On Review (Page 1 of 5)
Categories: HP MediaSmart Server
Thought you had to wait until sometime next year to get your mitts on a new HP MediaSmart Server?
HP's hitting the upcoming holiday season at full steam, armed with a third generation MediaSmart Server lineup to replace the relatively young EX-485 and EX-487.
Read the full press release here.
Some would say HP's 2nd generation MediaSmart Servers (The EX485 and EX487) were really intended to solve some severe hardware deficiencies plaguing the first generation models. Moving from AMD's aged Sempron line to Intel's Celeron stepped up the performance while keeping power consumption low, and a significant addition to the onboard system memory made it feel less like a dog.
The software hadn't changed much at that time, sans some support for Macs, but the addition of some useful improvements like Media Collector, better media streaming, and power saving utilities rounded out the package nicely... even if some of those features were limited and didn't work as reliably as we would have liked.
Fast forward a bit, and HP's 2.5 update significantly changed the MediaSmart Server for the better. A major emphasis was placed on features to truly make the MediaSmart Server, well, Media 'Smart.' Seamless integration of video streaming to PCs and the iPhone, plus HP's Video Converter handling drag and drop conversion of video formats offered up a convenient encoding and streaming solution for digital media beginners who wouldn't know Handbrake from Gmail.
It hasn't all been teddy bears and fluffy bunnies. HP's focus on simplifying the MediaSmart Server has left enthusiasts, like me and others who read in-depth reviews of Home Servers, wanting more power, flexibility, and control over features like the Video Converter and Media Collector... without resorting to registry edits and other complex hacks.
Is it even possible to give power users the features they want without overwhelming the everyday user?
HP apparently thinks so, and their third generation MediaSmart Server intends to do just that and more. Is three times really the charm?
Out of the Box
I won't dwell on the packaging, but it was immediately apparent that HP is trying to improve the experience before you even lay hands on the product. While the previous generation servers were well protected by their box and foam, it was difficult to remove the Server from the box. HP's new box entire side flips open, making it much easier to get the server out of its protective shell.
I know it's a little thing, but the little things can mean all the difference.
MediaSmart Server veterans will notice the box contents don't differ from previous generations, but those opening up a server for the first time will appreciate the fact it ships with the necessary goods to get the server up and running.
- The HP MediaSmart Server EX490/EX-495
- One 1TB or 1.5TB hard drive (depending on model). The EX495 I received shipped with a single 1500GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 drive.
- Power cord
- 6ft Ethernet network cable
- Server Recovery Disc
- PC Restore Disc
- Software installation disc
- Setup poster
- Warranty and support guide
Other than the sticker on the front, the case and styling remains unchanged from the previous generation. That's hardly a bad thing in my opinion. The top and sides retain their elegant high-glass black finish, while the mesh metal front door conceals the excellent hard drive removable tray system the MediaSmart Server has been known for. Even the lights are the same light blue color.
Really, why mess with what looks good and works great? Besides, this time around it's what's on the inside that really matters. - Continued on page 2.