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HP launches new SmartMedia network storage servers

HP launches new home servers with larger storage, faster processors, and enhanced features for PCs and Macs.

The new SmartMedia EX495 from HP.
Dong Ngo/CNET

I reviewed the HP MediaSmart LX190 a while ago, and though I wished it had more storage, I still gave it the editors' choice award for its great performance. And now both the storage and performance have been increased.

HP launched Monday the two new models of the MediaSmart EX490 and MediaSmart EX495 Home Servers, offering increased capacity, high-performance processors, and more features.

Similar to previous models, both new servers are based on the Microsoft Windows Home Server platform. However, they both now have a refined user interface and a Web-based home page that further facilitates accessing and using the server.

The servers also come equipped with 2GB of RAM and faster processors. The EX495 sports an Intel Pentium Dual Core CPU, while the budget-line EX490 runs an Intel Celeron CPU.

The first of these two models' new feature is a Video Converter that automatically converts video libraries; including unprotected DVDs. Users then can stream the video, as well as other digital content, from within the home network or over the Internet.

The second new feature is the Media Collector, which allows users to collect media by computer, media type, or file location. This features enable the SmartMedia server to automatically collect and organize media files from across Macs and PCs and store them on the server for later streaming.

Other than that, both the EX490 and the EX495 offer additional features for Mac users, including administration, media collection, and a new disc recovery utility that provides complete recovery on a Mac using Time Machine.

iPod Touch and iPhone users can also download a free app called MediaSmart Server Stream from Apple's App Store to play digital media stored on a new SmartMedia server, be it music or photos or video.

Both new servers can support up to 4 SATA hard dives and a total of up to 7TB of internal storage, plus 10TB of storage via external hard drives (connected via USB and eSATA ports). They are, however, shipped with only one hard drive. The EX490 comes with 1TB of hard disk storage and costs $549, while the EX495 comes with 1.5TB and costs $699.

The servers don't support any RAID configuration but has a duplication feature that keeps data safe in case of hard-drive failure. The omission of RAID support also means you can use hard drives of different capacities with the new servers, without losing their storage space.

The new HP SmartMedia servers will be available by October, but you can preorder them starting today.