We played with the new HP MediaSmart Server this morning, and amazingly we didn't have to stifle a single yawn. That's because it's aimed at Joe Public, and not those.
Here's how it works: connect it to your home LAN, install the accompanying Microsoft Windows Home Server software (it'll work with Macs and Linux too), backup all your data to the internal 500GB or 1TB hard drive -- then sit back smugly, knowing you can access that data from any PC, anywhere in the known universe.
All your family and friends can access it too -- provided you give them permission. All they have to do is enter the appropriate Home Server URL (http://smithfamily.homeserver.com, for example), enter their username and password, and hey presto -- they're browsing all the files, photos and multimedia you give them permission to. The best part is the software. Windows Home Server is pretty intuitive, so it takes just a few minutes to set up and personalise.
The HP MediaSmart Server can accept up to four 3.5-inch hard drives, and up to five external drives via USB or e-SATA. It'll happily cope with up to 9TB of storage, which is great for anyone who regularly downloads video from the Web. A 500GB version of the MediaSmart Server can be yours for £399, while the 1TB version will set you back £499. They're available from 1 December. -Rory Reid
The MediaSmart Server comes with either a 500GB or 1TB hard drive. You can also add your own 3.5-inch drive to one of the three vacant drive bays. Cup of coffee not included.
You can add up to five external hard drives to the various ports scattered around the device. There are four USB ports and one e-SATA port to choose from.
The MediaSmart Server connects via wired LAN only, but you can hook it up to your wireless router for cable-free fun. 10/100/1000Mbps networks are all supported.