At first blush, the HipServ sounds like many of the other media and entertainment servers that you see from companies such as NetGear, D-Link, Slingbox, and countless others. But further investigation shows it has some very interesting capabilities, and is really best understood as a turnkey Linux-based software environment for managing and streaming media and entertainment. Though you can buy the HipServ from LaCie as an upgrade to its Ethernet Disk mini product, you can also buy a larger enclosure (with internal power supply and RAID array) that can accommodate between 0.5 and 2.0 TB of disk space, along with the varied and interesting software capabilities that make HipServ so interesting.
The HipServ can handle music and video files in many formats, but it can also accommodate lots of other files as well, including digital video formats from DVRs and PVRs, game files for all the big platforms (Wii, Sony, and Microsoft), and non-media files as well. Furthermore, HipServ comes with client software that lets it work with Windows, Mac OS and Linux PCs on a network, and communicate with DLNA compliant devices of any kind (including both servers and clients as well). It can even record video from camcorders and Webcams, and also offers a complete Windows based interface for configuration, control, and playback or recording activities.
The real eyeopener for HipServ is its ability to handle multiple media streams with considerable aplomb. I saw their demo system (an 0.5 TB self-powered enclosure, not the LaCie box) play back two HD movies, record input from a Webcam, and play back a TV show at the same time with excellent picture quality and no hiccups on any of them the whole time I watched. The LaCie version goes for around $200, and the self-powered enclosure versions go for $450 to $700 (for 0.5 to 2.0 TB), which makes this server not just a great performer, but also a great buy. Check the Hipserv out at its Axentra product page.