HP Media Vault mv2120 Linux Server Reviewed: One Kick-Ass Little Penguin

Illustration for article titled HP Media Vault mv2120 Linux Server Reviewed: One Kick-Ass Little Penguin

Click to viewWhy, in the midst of a major Windows Home Server push, would HP introduce a little Linux-based NAS at half the price? And why would HP make the $300 Media Vault mv2120 so full featured and easy that its $600-and-up MediaSmart Servers look

A) too bulky

B) too expensive

C) too overloaded

D) all of the above?

Is HP telling Microsoft there's no need for Windows Home Server, especially in light of its recent troubles? Or is HP saying that WHS is nice, but it'd be nicer if it was actually priced as an accessory? Whether the new Media Vault is a lurch away from Microsoft's gravitational pull, or whether it's a placeholder until Redmond can come up with a formula for $300 WHS boxes, it's a pretty cool little machine.

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See, one of the reasons I liked Windows Home Server so much is that after dealing with many NAS products from the storage companies and networking hardware makers, the MediaSmart server was easier to setup and had a lot of useful apps ready to go at the start. Maybe you like a clean drive, an empty warehouse on your network, but it's nice when some of the initiative is taken for you.

That's why I was relieved (though a bit startled) that the 500GB Media Vault—again half the price of the 500GB MediaSmart Server—was ready to do so much right out of the box.

I plugged it in, ran the Windows-only set up, and was immediately able to back stuff up, either using the super-simple screen for music, movies, etc., or the more comprehensive tool, where you can tell it what you want to back up and when you want it done.

Illustration for article titled HP Media Vault mv2120 Linux Server Reviewed: One Kick-Ass Little Penguin

I did it on both Vista and XP machines, and was happy to be able to check out my contents afterwards on the PCs and even on my Mac. (WHS only lets you see your backups via a tedious drive emulator, one that obviously doesn't run on Macs.)

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Illustration for article titled HP Media Vault mv2120 Linux Server Reviewed: One Kick-Ass Little Penguin

Even though the $299 version comes with just one fixed 500GB drive, it also has a bay so you can add another 3.5" SATA drive.

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Illustration for article titled HP Media Vault mv2120 Linux Server Reviewed: One Kick-Ass Little Penguin

I powered down the unit, dropped in a 500GB on that I had lying around, and fired it up again. The LED went purple to show that it saw the drive but needed a format. I went to the Media Vault control center, picked the drive, formatted it (as a RAID 1 mirror of the first drive) and voila, in minutes, we were set and, on the unit itself, Drive 2's LED had turned blue.

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Illustration for article titled HP Media Vault mv2120 Linux Server Reviewed: One Kick-Ass Little Penguin

I haven't done any HD video streaming or anything like that yet, but with a gigabit ethernet connection, I don't think I'll have a problem. In fact, though HP says that the Media Vault can't do multiple simultaneous video streams like the WHS, I can't really figure out what I, personally, would miss if I kissed the WHS goodbye and stuck with the Media Vault. (Update: Contrary to original comments, HP now says you can do multiple video streams, so one less advantage for WHS.) Here's how the comparison plays out:

What's not as good as MediaSmart Windows Home Server:

Won't do multiple streams of video like WHS

• Only two drive bays (a fixed and a spare) instead of four

• Lets you backup multiple PCs, but only one at at time from the PC itself, not through a WHS-style master control

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What's the same as MediaSmart Windows Home Server:

• iTunes music aggregation

&bull Photo webshare

• Remote access and web-based file browsing (1-year free)

• Connect via Mac for basic use as a shared drive

What's better than MediaSmart Windows Home Server:

• Web-based remote controls work great on Macs

• Quieter, with less drive noise on a regular basis

• Easy to back-up the server itself to a USB drive

• Easier to access Windows backups, especially from a Mac

• Probably does not share the same data corruption bug as WHS

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In the end, this product isn't just another NAS, but a bold statement that HP is making, that it doesn't have to be saddled by the rough riders of Redmond when it can build (license?) its own practically identical box at a lower cost. Now I know that there are some things that you can only do with a PC-like server running a full OS, but honestly, what are they? I mean, do most people, even die-hard server-needers, give a crap? I want to know from you folks: Why bother with Windows Home Server when the Linux-based alternatives are on the surface equally friendly, equally powerful and—oh yeah—half the cost? [HP]

DISCUSSION

soldstatic
soldstatic

As for the xbox streaming from this linux box, guys chill, it will be no problem. Straight out of the box at this moment, it might be. But if they just include the simple UPnP functionality, which ANY operating system (including some phones [symbian on the n95 like i have for instance]), then many kinds of devices can access the media no problem for streaming.

the 360 has essentially two ways to stream media to it from networked files. Media center extender (which you get to by going down to the "media center" button on the media tab on the 360) requires a windows media center pc running the extender. The only great thing here, that I can see, is that you can supposedly do television tivo stuff as well as listen to am/fm radio (assuming you have the right cards plugged into your media center pc). The other way is by going to pictures/video/music on the media screen where you select the location. It uses UPnP for this. Most WMP11 installations make it extremely easy to share your media with the UPnP, and I use this much more than the "media center" extender thing cause it is faster (much bulkier program to do all that than just UPnP).

So essentially, if the Giz or sites like it have ANY pull in the market (which they certainly do) than the big honchos over at HP would be well advised to put UPnP in here. It'd be something easy to set up for users (you could fashion it after the WMP11 library sharing setups). Then my phone, my pda, other pcs of any OS, and the 360 (and i'm 90% sure the play stations as well, oh and the wii) could access the media with zero config / set up on the client side.

HP: Put UPnP on this. Add some USB ports or firewire ports so that the capacity can be upgraded further (or build in 4 bays (or do both)). I would certainly purchase this item, in an instant. Hands down for sure would buy this.

I don't see the point in getting this though, with less than a TB of storage. Not a big deal since they want to market half the price, and maybe some people don't need that much, but now that video is becoming so much more prevelent (and taking up so much more space than mp3s), it would be useless w/o min 1TB. Maybe have that as an option?

GET UPNP PLEASE