HP MediaSmart Gets Smarter: Transcodes and Pipes Video to iPhone

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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