Review and Giveaway: HP LX195 MediaSmart Home Server

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Short Version: The LX195 is great back-up solution for both PCs and Macs. It’s a tad overpriced and lacks expandability, but is still a solid Windows Home Server.

Oh, and there’s a contest.

Specs

  • 1.6GHz Intel Atom 230
  • 1GB of DDR2 RAM
  • 640GB 7200 RPM SATA HDD
  • 4 USB ports
  • 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet
  • MSRP of $399

Hardware

HP knows how to make quality PC cases and this one is no different. It looks great – very monolithic. It’s not as small as I expected as this server only holds one hard drive, but it’s still smaller than most other WHSs. An external power supply and low-power Atom CPU helps with this.

hp-server-014HP didn’t design the the LX195 to be expandable, but just four screws prevent users from accessing the insides. In fact, the hard drive and exhaust fan swings out on one of the side panels, revealing the motherboard. (more pics below) I don’t see why you couldn’t add a larger hard drive as long as you can reinstall the OS.

The back panel has four USB ports, a Gigabit Ethernet jack, a locking port, and the power supply input along with the power button. Why HP insists on putting the power buttons for their WHS on the backside continues to annoy me. How hard would it be to put the button on the front panel?

Speaking of the front, there isn’t anything on it besides indicator light. That’s it. No I/O ports of any kind.

Performance

Even though an Atom CPU is running the server, it functions fine. I didn’t have any trouble at all running multiple apps at one time or unRARing files. Under normal operation, I had uTorrent running along with a TiVo media streamer called prTIVO in the background. I didn’t notice any difference between running WHS on this Atom CPU than on my custom Core 2 Duo Windows Home Server. This OS continues to impress me with the wide range of hardware it can efficiently run on.

Software suite

HP has been in the Windows Home Server game for a couple of years now and has shown considerable support for the platform. This model received the same Apple love as HPs EX line and is fully compatible with OS X’s Time Machine. This means that Mac users can utilize backup utility that’s built right into OS X. This is a huge plus in my book.

Windows systems are backed up through the Connector software package. The backup systems isn’t as robust as other programs, but it gets the job done just fine.

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The LX server however wasn’t blessed with some of the recent updates to the EX line including iPhone video streaming. But the system does have the rest of HPs software, which includes an iTunes server, TwonkyMedia streamer, online backup support, HP Media Collector, and the HP Photo Publisher.

The two big features are the HP Media Collector and Photo Publisher. The Media Collector continuously scans the network for new media. It then sorts and stores them on this server. When you download the latest music off of a site, it’ll copy it onto the server. You better be careful what directories it’s allowed to scan if some of your content isn’t kid (or wife) friendly…

The Photo Publisher makes it easy for users to upload pictures. Or, it also allows you to host your own photo sharing site through your Internet connection and personal URL that Windows Home Server sets up. These features are surprisingly easy to use and work well.

But…

This is a great server, but besides the the Time Machine support, I don’t see any reason to buy it. Acer just came out its own WHS that features a 1TB drive, is expandable to four total drives, and is only $399. (expect our review shortly, but it’s a great machine) The HP LX195 can be had for $374 on Amazon down from its $399 MSRP. Until HP drops the price of this unit or includes a larger hard drive, I highly doubt anyone besides homes with Macs will opt for the LX195 over the Acer easyStore.

But let me reiterate that there isn’t anything wrong with this server. It’s solid, but simply way overpriced.

UPDATE: HP sent over a promo code that will drop the price of the server by $75 to $325, which improves its chance in the market for sure. Nice, HP.

$100 off the EX485 or EX487: code AC8942
$75 off the LX195: code AC8371
Act fast, coupon codes are valid until July 14, 2009!

Product Page

Giveaway!

Alright, geeks and freaks, we’re giving this server away to a lucky commenter. Who cares about the high MSRP if it’s free? All that we ask you do is leave a comment below on why you need this server and we’ll pick the winner at random. It’s that easy.

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