HP's MediaSmart Servers to Crunch Video, Stream to iPhones

By  |  Monday, April 13, 2009 at 11:33 pm

HP LogoMicrosoft’s Windows Home Server platform has only one major booster among PC manufacturers, but it’s a doozy: HP, whose MediaSmart Servers pack sizable quantities of redundant storage, Microsoft’s software for backing up, restoring, and sharing data, and HP’s own tweaks and additions, such as support for Macs. And today HP announced a software update for its EX 485 and EX 487 models with two significant new features: automatic conversion of videos for streaming and viewing on computers and mobile devices, and a new app called iStream that gives iPhones and iPods Touch remote access to the videos, music, and video you have stored on the server.

The software update, which HP plans to release late this month, can automatically generate high-resolution and low-resolution MPEG4 H.264 video files from multiple formats (including unprotected DVDs–but not, of course, copy-protected ones). I’ve spent enough time tending to computers that were slowly crunching away at video files to find the idea of a sever silently doing it in background mighty appealing.

The high-res videos that the new software creates are for viewing on PCs, Macs, Xbox 360s, and PlayStation 3s; the low-res ones can be downloaded to iPods, iPhones, PSPs, and other portable devices, and streamed to any iPhone or iPod Touch that has an Internet connection.

Here’s a peek at the MediaSmart video conversion control panel:

HP Video Conversion

And here are some images of the iStream app (which looks very much like Apple’s own media apps for the iPhone and Touch, which is presumably kind of the idea):

HP iStream

iStream

iStream

At $600 for a 750GB model and $750 for a 1.5TB one, the MediaSmarts cost far more than more basic networked storage products. The more features HP adds, the clearer it is why you might at least consider paying that premium. (Related side note: frequent Technologizer commenter Dave Zatz has an eye-opening post up in which he says that the MediaSmarts’ support for Apple’s Time Machine backup utility doesn’t extend to letting you do a full restore–only file-by-file recovery. Which, uh, sounds like a major omission.)

I’ve been working on a review of the MediaSmart which I need to wrap up and post–but I’ll try to get my hands on the software update before I do.

 
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5 Comments For This Post

  1. DaveZatz Says:

    Yeah, I’m super bummed. I had such high hopes, thought this was the be all, end all of home servers with that ‘Mac support’. It still has tons of useful features (WHS + all the HP enhancements), but I’m feeling burned and skittish at the moment.

  2. paul Says:

    How’s that relationship with HP doing?

  3. Ed Oswald Says:

    Paul: I am not sure if you are referring to our Digital Media Central sponsorship, but if you are you can be assured that relationship status is completely independent of any reporting we do here :)

  4. Harry McCracken Says:

    HP is an advertiser on Technologizer (along with lots of other companies we write about) but that will never impact our coverage of them; it’s way, way easier to find advertisers than to get your reputation back once you sell out. Note that our post, unlike most which talk about the update, mentioned the issues with Time Machine support…

    –Harry

  5. colmob Says:

    Beware that the iStream app does not install on the 1st Gen iPod Touch, for no good reason that I can see. A very disappointed recent purchaser of an EX485 – though to be fair to the unit itself, it hasn’t arrived to me. Shipping delays.

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