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Summary:

Although I rely so much on the cloud, I’m tempted from time to time by the HP MediaSmart devices. These function as home servers that backup data on PCs and Macs, make it easy to share files and serve up media: essentially, they’re half of the […]

hp-mediasmartAlthough I rely so much on the cloud, I’m tempted from time to time by the HP MediaSmart devices. These function as home servers that backup data on PCs and Macs, make it easy to share files and serve up media: essentially, they’re half of the “personal cloud” I keep thinking about. The other half would entail running applications on the server at home and using those apps in a browser while on the road.

That may be too much to ask right now, but that doesn’t mean the MediaSmart servers are stagnant by any means. Engadget says HP has announced a whopper of a firmware upgrade for the ex485 and ex487 models available before the end of this month. Among the features is automatic video transcoding, which is done at a low priority so your server doesn’t get caught up converting a movie when you need it to be backing up key data. I remember what a chore this was when converting files for use on Windows Mobile or Zune device, so this is a welcome addition.

Of course, once you get those files converted, you’ll want to watch them, right? HP has an iPhone application called iStream that’s due to go live shortly in the iTunes App Store. Anyone care to guess what it does? Yup, you can use it to stream video from your MediaSmart server at home to your iPhone or iPod Touch. I’m assuming (but could be wrong) that even without this application, you should be able to watch vids from a Windows Mobile phone pretty natively. Any MediaSmart owners care to chime in on that?

As far as file support, the transcoding will take AVI, MOV, DVR-MS, MPEG-2, MP4, MPEG-4, WMV and unprotected DVD VOB files. I’m thrilled to see the DVR-MS file format: that’s what a Windows Media Center device uses when recording live television. You could always hit Hulu or Joost for content, but the ability to record live television at home and stream it to a wireless handset is pretty appealing.

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  1. There’s never been any need to encode video for Windows Mobile (unless you’re ripping DVDs) with software like TCPMP which includes most of the major codecs.

    As for DVR-MS that was the file format used by Media Center up until the release of the TV Pack last year. Media Center now records to .wtv files if you have the TV Pack or Windows 7 installed.

    Gizmodo mention that the video can be streamed to a PSP but don’t include any details.

    1. Kevin C. Tofel Jake Monday, April 13, 2009

      Thanks Jake. I was mainly transcoding from DVDs to my handheld back in the day. I also retired my WMCE desktop about 1.5 to 2 years ago, so I’ve missed out on any updates on codecs / formats. Good to know!

    2. I think I tried ripping a DVD for a Pocket PC once before deciding that it was far too much hassle :) Since then I’ve found other, better sources for my video that come in friendlier formats.

    3. Kevin C. Tofel Jake Monday, April 13, 2009

      I hear you. It’s been a good two years since I was ripping DVDs to Windows Mobile and back then there weren’t many other good substitutes for video content. My how times have changed for the better. :)

  2. For this, I may need to upgrade.

  3. My MediaSmart server arrived on Friday. It’s going back today. :( It’s got tons of cool features. However that Mac ‘Time Machine integration’ is somewhat of an incomplete statement since it doesn’t provide full recoveries. Found that out the hard way. I’m surprised Apple hasn’t told them to stop advertising Time Machine support.

    1. I sympathise with your situation and wish that HP would leave stuff like Time Machine and iTunes integration out of their Home Servers as well. I don’t own Macs or iTunes and the extra software they include is nothing more than crapware to me.

      I love my MediaSmart server (I have the original version) but really wish HP wouldn’t include software that can’t be easily uninstalled. I don’t see why it’s necessary for HP to market these at Mac users anyway when there are so few of them. Surely there are enough Windows users out there who need a simple backup solution and Mac users can stick to their Apple-provided solutions.

    2. I’m still looking for that perfect multi-OS solution. We’ve got several computers, half are OS X half are Vista. (Not to mention my XP and Ubuntu VMs, but those aren’t critical, need-to-be-recovered stuff.) Was looking forward to getting Sage up on the server. But I feel so stung, I just don’t want anything to do with it at the moment. Maybe I’ll feel better next week. ;)

  4. Kevin,
    Windows home server is based on Windows Server 2003. You can install Outlook and remote in. The new feature pack 2 allows for playback of H.2gd over your xbox360 and the new extenders. The green Button and other web sites are taking the home server to new levels. Paul Thurrots winsuper site has a lot of info on Windows Home server.

    Thanks,

    Josh Hall

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