The rumors of a new budget version of Hewlett-Packard’s MediaSmart home server were correct.
Photos, specs and a price surfaced today, in advance of a Thursday press briefing, spilling the beans on what looks to be a very cool home media storage solution.
The $390 LX195 comes with a single 640-gigabyte hard drive in a small box that looks a little bit like the Maxtor Central Axis network attached storage device.
At least that’s the product listed this afternoon at online retailer eCost.com.
But the HP model is a full server, running Intel’s Atom 230 processor. It has four USB 2.0 ports for adding external drives, and it’s designed so users can upgrade the internal drive to a higher capacity model.
It’s lacking the faster eSata connection on the higher end MediaSmart servers, which so far are the flagship consumer systems for Microsoft’s Windows Home Server software.
The key difference, though, is that the LX195 won’t provide the same level of redundant data protection out of the box since it only has a single drive. That won’t take advantage of the operating system’s fancy data mirroring system.
Yet home servers are facing tough competition from a flood of lower-priced, single-drive NAS devices starting around $180. At $390 for 640 gigs, the HP is at the extreme high end of this category, but its consumer-friendly software is way ahead of the pack.
This makes it an interesting experiment: Will people pay an extra $210 for a media storage and streaming device because of its superior software and applications? Even AppleTV struggled with this approach.
Maybe the market segment targeted by the LX195 is saying they are more interested in capable devices for collecting and sharing media on a home network but not willing to pay $600 to $800 for enterprise-grade residential backup systems.
For peace of mind, LX195 buyers could back up manually onto an external drive or pay to have the drive backed up to Amazon.com’s S3 storage service, which HP has added to the offerings bundled with the MediaSmart.