By Harry McCracken | Monday, April 13, 2009 at 11:33 pm
Microsoft’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:
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):
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.