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In-depth review of the HP MediaSmart Server LX195 Windows Home Server

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There have been rumours floating around for the last few weeks about a new HP MediaSmart Server, known as the LX195. Well, these rumours are true. HP today announced the impending release of their next HP MediaSmart Server, and yes, it’s called the LX195, which is a departure from the EX series that are currently available.

The specification of the LX195 is a little different to that of any of the EX series. For a start, you will notice that it is visibly smaller. This is partly because it only contains a single hard drive, and doesn’t have the capability to add additional internal hard drives, but also because there is an external power supply, compared to the built-in power supply on the EX series.

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Also, you will notice that is doesn’t have the sleek shiny black surface that the EX series had, but instead it has a series of ridges which help with the cooling, and the box itself is a dark gray. Below is a picture of the 3 different HP MediaSmart Servers – from left to right, the EX475, the EX487 and now the LX195.

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SPECIFICATION

The actual specification of the LX195 is as follows:

PROCESSOR Intel Atom 1.6 GHz Processor 230
MEMORY 1GB of DDR2 DRAM
NETWORK SUPPORT Built in 10/100/1000 RJ45 Ethernet
INTERFACES 4 USB 2.0 ports (on the back)
INTERNAL HARD DRIVES 1 SATA 7200 RPM 640 GB drive

So HP have decided for this smaller variant to go with the Intel Atom processor. And yes, there is only room for a single built-in hard drive in the chassis, which is a definite departure from the EX series. However there are 4 USB 2.0 ports on the back of the LX195 which you can use to connect external hard drives to (make sure that the minimum size drive you connect is 100 GB though as anything less is not supported).

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Those of you reading this who know Windows Home Server will immediately realise that with just a single drive you cannot have Folder Duplication enabled. So, the first thing you will want to do is get yourself a decent external hard drive if you want your shared files protected.

UNPACKING AND CONNECTING

The box itself is quite small with everything coming very well packaged inside.

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The contents of the box include the LX195 itself, the power cable and power supply (a change to the previous models), an Ethernet cable, some software CDs, a warranty book and the setup poster.

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Plugging it in all shouldn’t take more than a few moments, now it’s time to switch it on and get it working.

INSTALLING AND CONFIGURING

There is not manual as such with the LX195, but when you run the installation CD you are given some online instructions, and you also have the now familiar HP MediaSmart Server Setup Poster to help guide you through what needs to be done.

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The first thing that needs to be done after you have connected up the LX195 to both the power and your home network, and switched it on, is to install the Client software on one of your computers. This performs two functions, the first of which is install the Windows Home Server Connector software on your computer but also to enable you to configure your new Windows Home Server, with details such as the server name and admin password (but more on that in a moment).

After you pop the Software Installation CD in the drive, you then follow the usual steps to install the Windows Home Server Connector software. I won’t walk through all those steps again in this article, but I have included the screenshots for those of you who might be interested. Note the LX195 image on the installer.

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So once you have go to this stage, then its time to configure the Windows Home Server itself. You have to do it via this method because there is no facilities available on the LX195 for you to plug in a mouse, monitor and keyboard.

Again, I won’t bother with going through each and every step, although again I have included the screenshots, but the one interesting thing to point out though which is a change from HP’s other models is that the server name is already entered as HPSERVERLX instead of the usual HPSERVER. You can of course change this if you so wish.

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Once you have completed these steps then you can log in to the Windows Home Server Console as normal.

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Before you can access the Console though, you are prompted to perform a check to see if there are any HP MediaSmart software updates available.

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At the time of writing, the version of the software that comes preinstalled, 2.1.1.25860 is the latest version to work on the LX195, so before anyone asks, the 2.5 Update for the EX485 and EX487 is not found and installed for you.

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USING THE LX195

One thing you will notice, or rather you won’t notice is the noise. The LX195 is extremely quiet, in fact it is so quiet you will barely hear it, which cannot really be said about the EX series, although to be fair, the EX series had more hard drives and different power requirements. And the EX series wasn’t really that loud either!

Having a look around the LX195 version of the Windows Home Server Console, you will see the MediaSmart Server tab, with specific additions provided by HP, including an update Welcome screen.

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By clicking on the Server Summary button you can see at a glance the status of your server.

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Those of you familiar with the HP MediaSmart Servers will know that they come with additional software, and the LX195 is no exception.

You basically get the same software you did with the pre 2.5 Updated EX485 and EX487 series, so that is:

HP Photo Publisher which enables you to publish your photos to various online photo sharing sites.

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HP Media Collector which automatically copies and organises media files from any of your computers.

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Features for Mac, which basically includes support to use Apple’s Time Machine to backup files on your Apple Mac to your Windows Home Server and also to access shared folders from your Windows Home Server on your Mac.

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Server for iTunes which enables you to store and publish your iTunes library and playlists on your network.

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HP MediaSmart Server Online Backup which enables you to use an Amazon S3 account to backup your data outside of your home or office. But for this you do need an Amazon S3 account, so it is not free.

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TwonkyMedia is used to stream your digital media on your home network to devices such as an Xbox 360 and also to provide remote streaming.

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All of these additional features can be enabled or disabled depending on your own needs.

Having a look at the Shared Folders tab and the Server Storage tab reminds you that you only have one hard drive out of the box, which means no Folder Duplication, so maybe now is a good time to plug in that external drive you have available?

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There are also the usual settings tabs for various HP specific options.

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The LX195 also comes preinstalled with two add-ins – the TwonkyMedia add-in as mentioned earlier, and also the HP MediaSmart Online Backup add-in, again, as mentioned earlier.

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There is also an add-in available to install that is not installed by default – the McAfee Total Protection Service. So if you want to be protected by Antivirus you can easily install this add-in or use one of your own choosing.

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As the LX195 comes preinstalled with Windows Home Server Power Pack 1, you will need to update to Power Pack 2 before doing much else.

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Just go to the Settings tab, and click on Update Now to retrieve that, and any other updates that are available.

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CONCLUSION

It is very interesting to see a single drive Windows Home Server, mainly because you don’t have the ability to enable Folder Duplication out of the box. However it is very easy to add a USB drive to enable this. I think that more and more people want a cheap, simple solution just to back up their computers and may not want to share their content, in which case a single drive Windows Home Server is just fine.

The price point for the LX195 is $399 which is very good, and obviously is the cheapest of the HP MediaSmart Server series. The next current model up, the EX485 retails at $599 before rebates and other discounts, although you can get it at least $50 less at the time of writing from the HP Store, and possibly cheaper if you search around online. So the question is really is it worth paying that little bit more to get a more internally expandable server, and also one with the new 2.5 Update software for video conversion and support for iPhones? Well that is a question that only you can answer. Do you need those additions, or do you want a cheap and cheerful Windows Home Server?

I have to say I really like the LX195, it’s small, quiet and cheap. It does everything I need to do within the confines of it’s hardware. If I want to do more, then I have the option of buying a bigger Windows Home Server. The only thing I would add though is that I think HP should have shipped it with 2GB of RAM instead of 1GB, but that is easily resolved!

The other point to note is that Acer are currently launching their Acer Aspire easyStore Windows Home Server, that will also retail for $399, but includes double the amount of storage, with the ability to add more internal storage as well. So which will do better? Frankly I think it is a great thing that the price of Windows Home Server’s are coming down and that the choice of hardware is increasing, well done!

The HP MediaSmart Server LX195 Windows Home Server will be released next week (1st week of May) in the US for $399. Once again, no word on a European release so watch this space.

Andrew Edneyhttps://moviesgamesandtech.com
I am the owner and editor of this site. I have been interested in gadgets and tech since I was a little kid. I have also written a number of books on various tech subjects. I also blog for The Huffington Post and for FHM. And I am honoured to be a Microsoft MVP since January 2008 - again this year as an Xbox MVP.

29 COMMENTS

  1. How did McAfee perform on the LX195? Is 1GB of RAM enough?

    Have you tried to remote in and does it perform as expected?

    This seems like a great starting system for the general public. It is simple and easy plus most people can add a USB drive without issues if they need to expand. It looks like I found my sisters Christmas present.

    I hope HP does a big push in nationwide retailers for this system and would offer some early discounts.

    • Tim – regarding the RAM, I dont think 1GB is enough for anything anymore 🙂 Its very easy and cheap to upgrade the RAM and so really should be considered. The 1GB does the job but the more you want to do with this WHS, the better off you would be replacing the RAM. As for the remote access features, they worked perfectly well without any problems, as expected.

  2. Can you get in to the LX195 case easily to access the RAM? Maybe that should be left for day two?

    • yep, two screws on the back and the side slides off, then two screws inside and the side plate comes off giving full access to the memory and drive.

  3. HomeServerHacks has a How To – Replace the ram. With photos, Like Andrews says, very quick. A lot easier than the EX series.

  4. Sorry, it was on WeGotServed,

    The underside of the unit reveals that Microsoft have created a brand new, unannounced OEM SKU for Windows Home Server, called

    • When you add an external USB you get the usual PP2 options of either adding the drive to the storage pool or using it for WHS backups – nothing has changed. I cannot see anything different with the single drive SKU. My "guess" would be that it is a slightly cheaper licencing option for OEMs who want to release a single drive box.

      • I have now spoken with Microsoft about the "Single Disk" sku – it is NOT a new or different version of Windows Home Server, it is purely for licensing identification purposes for OEMs.

    • It's correct – you can slide off the side of the LX195, open it up, pull out the single hard drive that is already there, pop in a new one and then reinstall WHS on it.

    • I'll be honest I didnt notice much of a performance issue during the review. I plan on doing an update after using it for a few weeks. As for transfer speed, again I didnt notice anything differnt and it would probably be down to my network setup anyway rather than the box itself.

  5. Andrew,

    I found the LX195 for $250. Would you still recommend it or should I pony up more money. I just built a system for work and now contemplating using this for home. Home is actually more media intense than work.

    I am new to WHS only for the last week but I am very deep into it and have learned a lot.

    Thank you for all your help.

    Todd

    • Hi Todd

      If you are going to be doing media intense stuff, I would recommend going for one of the EX series, plus you have more internal drive options then.

      Andrew

        • Hi Todd

          Yeah, the EX490 looks like being a good machine, I have a 495 here to review when I can find some time.

          There are some good deals to be had on the 490 – check out the Amazon link on the top right.

          Andrew

  6. Thank you. I might be interested in posting on your blog to help you. I do not know how to do the images and such.

  7. I purchased an LX195 and upgraded the drive to a 2TB Western Digital drive, and so far so good. The server reinstall was a little hairy, I needed to format the drive first on my PC, then the server restore went as planned.

    I made a mistake of uninstalling the HP add-in that provides online storage, and now the console does not work well .. So I need to address that issue, which I fear may require another server restore! 🙁

    All in all I like the box, I got for $195 shipped. Once I am over the console issue, I should be good to go.

    • FradicalOne said:

      "I purchased an LX195 and upgraded the drive to a 2TB Western Digital drive, and so far so good. The server reinstall was a little hairy, I needed to format the drive first on my PC, then the server restore went as planned."

      Do you have an more detail about this upgrade? I used Acronis True Image to make an image of the OEM drive (a WD Caviar Blue 640GB) onto a WD Green (1.5TB), but when I mount the new drive in the server machine, the hard drive indicator light on the front panel stays dark. What exactly did you do about formatting the new drive?

  8. Can you mount an external USB CD rom and access it from desktop? Also, has anyone had success in using this with a corporate box that is tied to a domain?

    • Chuck

      Yes, you can connect an external device to the LX195 and you can access it from the LX195 desktop.

      Joining a WHS to a domain is not supported but I remember reading somewhere that it can be done.

      Have a look on google as I cant remember where it was I saw it!

      Andrew

  9. I did pick this up on Newegg for $199 free shipping. Great box for simple backup and iTunes sharing at home. Has anyone used the iTunes server? Should I upgrade memory for this?

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