Manufacturer: HP Model: HP MediaSmart Server LX195
Price: $399 Web: http://www.hp.com


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I’m not sure what they call it in your neighbourhood, but round here it’s called the “credit crunch”. As the world economic crisis evolves from a slowdown into a recession we’re all feeling the pinch. Sales down, jobs lost, life for many is pretty gloomy right now. Which makes selling new, cutting edge tech digital home technology a real challenge – particularly when that digital home technology has competitors available at a greatly reduced price.

Welcome to the world of Windows Home Server in 2009 – a brilliant product no doubt, easily the best home backup and storage solution available on the market today, but it’s not exactly cheap. With family budgets splashed with red ink, and Linux-based NAS devices available at a much reduced cost, Windows Home Server sure could do with a cheaper, entry level product to tempt new users into the category.

Enter the new HP MediaSmart Server LX195. Codenamed “Boxster” (after the Porsche model) for those who want a clue as to how HP see this home server.

It’s a small footprint, cost-effective, single drive home server designed for those users who don’t need a huge 4 drive system, or are looking for a cheaper model and are happy to expand with external drives in the future. To get the price point down, HP will undoubtedly have to cut a few corners in comparison to the (now top of the range) EX48x models – but they could pull off a real trick and deliver more than you bargained for. Let’s take a look and see what’s in store.

What’s in the Box?

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As with previous HP MediaSmart Server models, the LX195 looks great in the box with branded messaging bringing the features of the product to life. Open it up and you’ll find the following:

  • HP MediaSmart Server LX195
  • Ethernet Cable
  • Power Cable
  • Installation CDs (Connector, PC Restore and Server Recovery)
  • Setup Poster
  • Warranty Details

The setup poster provides all you need to know to get up and running with the home server, but you won’t find a comprehensive user manual, so make sure you hit those help files (and sites like this one) if you need any help configuring the product.

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Note that the CDs/DVDs state “LX190 Series” – at this point, only the LX195 has been announced but I guess this gives HP leeway to introduce additional models into the range at a later date.

First Looks

Interestingly the LX195 breaks away from the MediaSmart design we’ve all come to know. Gone is the glossy piano black finish, to be replaced by a charcoal coloured matt plastic finish, and a slightly angled geometry. It’s a design that’s certainly more minimalist, humble and less flashy than the EX models. The chassis is certainly cheaper, both from a materials and engineering point of view – but the end result doesn’t necessarily look cheap, which is the important factor.

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The sides of the unit are ribbed, with ventilation punched into the left hand side of the chassis, behind which the system’s fan is located.

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The underside of the unit reveals that Microsoft have created a brand new, unannounced OEM SKU for Windows Home Server, called “Windows Home Server Single Disk” which marks a new stage in Redmond’s strategy to compete with Free (Linux). Whilst OEMs can work hard to reduce hardware costs, the software needs to be cost effective too –  Microsoft have created a specific, lower priced license for WHS which will be only sold to OEMs for use in single-drive, low cost systems. It’s the netbook strategy revisited.

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