Pros Easy, Fast, Expandable, Strong HP add-on Software
Cons Can always be less expensive. Limited Mac support
Summary I am fortunate to have a shipping version of the ex475 now. After only a couple weeks of use, it has delivered everything promised.
PRO's: Setup was easy. 1TB is enough initial storage, with lots of expansion options. HP Support was great with my two questions. Warranty is good. Looks good, although I have it stored next to my router in the basement. HP add-on software really differentiates this solutions vs any other Microsoft Home Server solution.
CON's: $749 list price may be $100 too high, but not bad given the easy of use vs. competition. No support for automatic backup for my Macbook Pro. (Everything else is supported.)
I bought this to take advantage of all the key selling points, (backup, photo-sharing, file-sharing, iTunes centralization, etc.). However, one of the best side benefits has been the ability to leverage this with a new HP 47" 1080P LCD HDTV with MediaSmart. I can now access all our videos, photos, and music directly from the TV. Prior to having the server, I had to stream music or photos from specific PC's located throughout the house. This server eliminates that requirement and give me "wire speed" access to ALL media files. Very nice.
HP seems to be ahead of the field currently. Others are sure to ship solutions over the next few months, but this will win the holiday shoppers wallet for 2007.
Finally, the tweaks made to this software by Microsoft, with input from HP, were worth the extra 60 day wait. Microsoft may have actually provided a solid product right out of the gate.
Pros The HP hardware is very good
Cons The WHS software should NOT have been released
Summary The WHS software is so buggy that Medion, a major German OEM has refused to allow their brand of a WHS server onto the market yet. It's to HP's discredit that they launched their version and that they continue to promote it.
1 -- The data-corruption bug is a show stopper, and MS announced today, March 11, that they'll probably not have a fix for it before June. It's true that it does not happen on one-drive servers, but without at least one more drive, data duplication cannot be enabled, defeating the purpose of such a device. MS originally stated that only files being opened from the server could be corrupted, but it's been shown that even read-only files can be corrupted.
2 -- The backup system is simply buggy. There are many reports of users not being able to restore failed computers and therefore losing lots of data.
3 -- Many users are frequently seeing "Health Notifications" that the SYS drive in the MediaSmart is failing. This means that it must be "Repaired," a WHS function that supposedly repairs corruption of backup indexes or something. It usually works, but could anyone be inspired by seeing a message that his WHS drives are "failing" all the time??
4 -- The backups cannot be validated, either manually or automatically, meaning that a backup can be corrupted and useless for months while the user is never notified. The user can find out about the corruption only by opening a backup. This means that if you want to rely on the WHS as a backup device, you have to try to open a backup almost every day. This is not a bug, just a show-stopping, deal-busting omission. I'd ask if anyone has EVER heard of ANY backup program that does not allow validation of its backups?
5 -- There is currently no way to backup the WHS, itself. Because of the Drive Extender technology, not even third-party programs can be used for this purpose. This is another show-stopping omission because if something happens to the C: drive in the WHS, the OS must be reinstalled. It preserves the data files, but it results in losing ALL the backups stored to that point. Many users have been forced to reinstall WHS: Bye-bye backups, start over. (This functionality may be added to WHS by the Power Pack due by July.)
The MediaSmart server is a very nice and reasonably-priced piece of hardware, but Microsoft's WHS software was released, IMHO at least 8 months too early. I'd advise that NO ONE buy any WHS software or hardware until MS proves that they've corrected the data-corruption bug -- i.e., not before mid-summer of 2008. Even then, it will probably be impossible to fully trust WHS backups, meaning that the MAIN REASON for the software's existence has not been met.
Pros Plenty of power and ease of use for a home sever
Cons small amount of add ons currently.
Summary Vista 64 support will come soon. Since each connection requires client software, the Vista 64 version is not yet ready. Keep in mind that Vista 64 support for the Zune came out two months after it shipped (works great for me now). Also, Bunny questioned storage and called it built in obsolence. Just about every IT department is struggling with data storage issues. Given that you can put in additional internal drivers, and add external storage, this platform is super flexible. Remember, hard drives have gained storage capacity but the form factor hasn't changed for years. So 5 years down the road, you'll probably be able to plug in a 2tb drive into 1 of those slots or connect it externally.
Pros Great backup and shared file capabilities
Cons The title says it all
Summary This is really about the WHS software, not HP's product.
Potential buyers should note that the client software will *not* run on 64-bit operating systems, including Vista.
Rumor has it MSFT is working on a 64-bit client but no release date has been set.
"Buyer Beware!!!"on by k-kevrom
Pros It looks like it can do a lot.
Cons As a media server, after hours and hours and...hours working on my own and with HP tech support it didn't do what it was fundamentally supposed to do.
Summary I purchased an HP MediaSmart Server almost a year ago. My initial thought is ?Smart? should be taken out of the name because ?Smart? is not a word that comes to mind based on my experience. The HP MediaSmart Server was plenty easy to set up ? maybe that?s where HP gets the confidence to call this ?Smart? ? but that?s when my nightmare began. Since that time I?ve repeatedly been on the phone and online (as if THAT ever worked) and emailing trying to get HP MediaSmart Server to simply to the things it?s supposed to do and do them consistently. MANY ?case numbers? (I can even tell you how tech support creates case numbers?I?m that good now!) and hours and hours of effort, both on my own and with HP MediaSmart Server tech support and I?m STILL where I was roughly 12 months ago. The device looks slick, but STYLE should never trump SUBSTANCE, and on the latter there is little to be found here.
Here are some issues I?ve been struggling with interminably:
- Fundamentally, the HP MediaSmart Server is supposed to find music files on various computers and save new content, automatically, to the server, but that works intermittently at best.
- The HP MediaSmart Server does stream media, but, for example it streams songs in duplicate and triplicate making playback via stereo excruciatingly painful for various reasons.
- The McAfee software that comes preloaded ?causes problems? (HP MediaSmart Server tech support speak) and doesn?t work the way it?s supposed to.
- The HP MediaSmart Server is supposed allow you to access content remote via the internet. That worked for a few months, but no longer does. Searching online it seems based on one site or another that feature is no longer supported by HP.
- I?ve recently encountered another problem that just came out of nowhere ? when the Server Console opens it is all black. One big blacked out screen, so the entire system ? computer, console and server itself, must all be rebooted.
- Won?t back up a second computer in the house. HP MediaSmart Server tech support said that computer?s hard disk was going bad and that I?d have to replace it. I did that, at MY cost, only to be told by another HP MediaSmart Server tech support guy later, ?Dude, you didn?t need to do that?You should insist at a minimum on a longer warranty period to compensate you for the time and cost??
I could go on and on, but you get the point. Several others such as Western Digital make ?media servers.? I?d look elsewhere unless you enjoy and have the time to spend hours on the phone with HP MediaSmart Server tech support people. Generally, none of them have been able to help anyway. Caveat Emptor!