At CES 2007, HP announced its MediaSmart server, a centralized media and data storage and server solution for the home. It has four drive bays and the unit will ship with only one or two SATA drives, allowing you to fill the remaining bays with your choice of SATA I or II drives. Additionally, it sports four USB 2.0 ports so you can add USB hard drives for expanded capacity. The total supported capacity is 6TB. You can also use the USB ports and built-in print server to network up to four USB printers. A Gigabit Ethernet port lets you push content back and forth quickly.
The centralized repository lets you back up all the PCs on your network and restore lost or corrupt files or a PC. The server organizes your files by file type, so you can see all of the photos from all of your home PCs without having to search each PC individually. On the flip side, you can push content to your home entertainment system or access files on one PC from another.
The MediaSmart server also lets you or others access your files remotely. If you want to share photos with family or friends, you can use HP Photo Webshare. Simply select the folder you want to share, enter the email addresses of those with whom you want to share, and they'll receive an email with a link back to your MediaSmart server. While this option is great, we prefer the way Maxtor implemented the share feature on its Maxtor Fusion drive. Maxtor's drive lets you choose particular photos within a folder and the addressee will only be able to see those photos. With HP's product, once you invite someone to see a photo in a folder, that person can see all the contents of that folder. You'll have to create a new folder for each person if you don't want everyone to have access to the same content.