HP LX195 MediaSmart Server full review

There was a buzz earlier this year about the HP LX195 MediaSmart Server, a network-attached storage (NAS) device you can use to store music, videos, and more on your home network.

Its intuitive interface, well-thought-out instructions and setup process, and user-friendly controls make the HP LX195 MediaSmart Server an enticing model for consumers in mixed computer settings.

The HP LX195 MediaSmart Server requires Windows to set up. This inability to work with the Mac for setup will be a deal breaker for some Mac-only users. They'll need to use Windows anytime you want to alter the settings for many of the LX195's main features including Time Machine, remote access, iTunes sharing, and streaming through a DLNA player. Once the HP LX195 MediaSmart Server is set up, however, Macs can access the files on the LX195 easily.

The HP LX195 MediaSmart Server uses the Windows Home Server Console for administration: controls are varied, intuitive, and beautifully laid out. Colorful tabs greet you on the left; when you first open the console, you see tabs where you can set up the key features: Remote Access, Features For Mac, Server For iTunes, Server Online Backup, and HP's Photo Publisher all get individual tabs. A help menu is ever present and easy to read. Intuitively designed icons tell you how the device has been configured, what updates are available, and more.

Home entertainment reviews and buying advice

If you're looking for a place to centrally store your media files and share them with everyone on your network, the HP LX195 MediaSmart Server is an intriguing option. Of course, the LX195 required lots of administrator authentication to allow the user to share media. But afterwards it's a snap to share folders or stream media to a DLNA player such as a Playstation 3. The LX195 even includes a server for iTunes for streaming over the network.

The HP LX195 MediaSmart Server offers remote access services, allowing you to access your data from any location that has internet. This is great for traveling users who don't want to lug around an external hard drive but want to show videos or photos to relatives they're visiting. The multistep process can be daunting, but HP does a good job of walking you through it.

For those that want to use the HP LX195 MediaSmart Server as a centralised backup unit for a group of computers, the server also works with Time Machine.

If you're not content with the 640GB capacity, the HP LX195 MediaSmart Server has four USB ports to further expand the storage capacity (though the drives need to be formatted using FAT32).

The HP LX195 MediaSmart Server makes setting up the various features of the unit easy. A red/yellow/green system indicates which elements of the unit haven't been calibrated yet and guides you through the setup process slowly and with great ease. Unfortunately, as robust as the features are, there are some absent elements that would round out the unit nicely.

The HP LX195 MediaSmart Server currently doesn't offer any BitTorrent download support; many other home media servers come equipped with BitTorrent protocols that enable the units to help shoulder the download burden and thereby make the process faster and more efficient.

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HP LX195 MediaSmart Server: Specs

  • Capacity: 640GB
  • Drive Speed: 7200rpm
  • 1.6GHz Intel Atom Processor 230
  • Interface: 1x 10/100/1000Mbps Gigabit Ethernet (RJ-45)
  • 4x USB 2.0
  • AC: 120VAC
  • 99x208x203mm