The Triumph of Streaming Media
That said, there are many big differences between the two servers we chose for this review. The HP EX475 MediaSmart comes in a mini-PC tower with two 500-GB drives (and includes empty bays for two more internal SATA 150 drives), uses a standard if low-powered PC CPU, offers numerous expansion ports and runs on Windows Home Server software. In addition to providing plenty of storage, shared media bins for photos, music, videos and automatic support for iTunes music files, the MediaSmart also offers ample SMB-based storage for files of all kinds, handles automated backup for Windows Vista and XP systems on your network and also monitors network health as well. It also costs $700 and up.
The LaCie Ethernet Disk mini – Home Edition is essentially a 500 GB external hard disk that includes a network interface, along with an embedded 900 MHz Marvell processor that runs Linux, and supports pretty comprehensive media management services (also including automatic support for iTunes). But there’s no client image-level backup nor network health (you can however, backup the whole server easily, and snapshot client directories), and no real expansion capability, either. But at prices ranging from $150 to $200, the Ethernet Disk mini may be a lot more affordable for many households.
The EX475 MediaSmart dwarfs the LaCie Ethernet Disk mini in size, capability and cost.
In the sections that follow next, we’ll cover these two media servers separately, starting with the HP EX475 MediaSmart, followed by the LaCie Ethernet Disk mini – Home Edition. At the end of this article, we’ll compare and contrast these two devices, and recommend situations for which each one may be suitable.