While I’m usually say that store-bought Windows Home Servers are a bit of a waste… this new one has me questioning that.
The new line of MediaSmart ex485 & ex487 “Encore” servers offer a few features that are new. Now, MediaSmart servers have always had additional enhancements like built-in virus scanning and media encoding… but these new features aren’t merely trivial.
First, full support for Mac OS X Time Machine. It will be interesting to see how HP added that, considering the bugs I’ve seen with backing up to Windows shares. Next, iTunes server support. I do not know if this means they have a custom environment for iTunes to run in, or if it’s a shoehorned client running iTunes Sharing. And, PacketVideo’s encoder has been upgraded with DLNA, and Xbox 360 support.
Still, I have some reservations. HP’s Media Collector software is nice if you just like to turn on a vacuum cleaner and have it suck all the media off of all the hard drives in your house, and dump it on an un-backed-up Home Server. And, we’ll have to see if the Apple-targeted additions actually work.
But, there is one big problem, it’s still not a full-profile server. No video out, limited expandability. What I’d like to see, is HP offer up the software overlay that the MediaSmart uses. Bundle the Mac Time Machine and iTunes serving drivers, as well as DLNA support… and sell it for $50 or $60. While this might undercut some MediaSmart sales, it could also be attractive to a bunch of existing Home Server owners, who aren’t likely to upgrade any time soon.
And, if HP doesn’t… rest assured… hackers will do it for them.
But, most importantly: Will HP do the right thing and offer their existing MediaSmart owners an upgrade path?
Update: HP has said that existing MediaSmart servers will get Mac support, as well as Amazon S3 backup support. No word on the advanced streaming options as of yet.