In December of 2008 HP released the MediaSmart EX485/487 Servers. Since than many reviewers and customers have had time to play with them and offer lots of suggestions. HP is not one to reject good suggestions, so they have been busy improving the software, and they just released the update.
When the new MediaSmart Servers were released in December they came with many new features. I did a review of the MediaSmart EX487 just last month, and I was very impressed with all the features. However, I made several suggestions, including the ability to stream video, and expanding the remote desktop functionality. I am happy to say that at least one of my suggestions will make a showing in this update.
The feature I am referring to is the ability to stream video over the internet. To help facilitate this the HP MediaSmart update also adds the ability to convert almost any video to a mobile format, MPEG4 (H.264), that is easier to stream. The formats that can be converted are AVI (DivX, Xvid, MJPEG), MOV (MJPEG), DVR-MS (MPEG-2), MP4 (MPEG4), WMV and unprotected DVD VOB. A high resolution version, also MPEG4 (H.264), of the file is also kept and will be used when streaming to the local network. The Video converter runs at the lowest priority on the CPU so that it will not interfere with the Home Servers other duties.
In addition HP has developed an iPhone app called iStream. This app give you full access to your media library. The iStream app will be available through the iTunes App Store.
One of the new features that is included in the original EX485/487 software is the ability to backup an Apple machine. This update includes an enhancement to the Apple Time Machine configuration. The enhancement includes the ability to change the size of the Time Machine backup volume, and delete it if you want.
Unfortunately, for users of the older EX475/478 MediaSmart servers this update is not compatible. I was told this is because those servers do not have enough processing power or memory to handle the additional load that streaming and converting video will place on the server.
So what exactly can this new hardware do? According to HP they were able to get 5 simultaneous streams using a Gigabit network connection without maxing out the CPU. Since none of us are going to get speeds like that over our Internet connection we probably won’t get that many streams. If you are using the iPhone HP recommends that you get connected via 3G or WiFi so the video is not choppy.
The last new feature has to do with the photo sharing app in the Home Server. The update gives users the ability to create private albums so that only authorized users can see your photos.
I am very excited about these updates. I only wish I hadn’t returned the MediaSmart EX487 so I could try them out. For those of you that do have a new MediaSmart I woud be very interested in your feedback. Please leave comments and let us know how they workout.