For a good example of what a Windows Home Server (WHS) appliance can be, take a look at the HP MediaSmart Server. The device, designed primarily for use as network-attached storage in homes, takes advantage of the capabilities of the OS, but it adds media-serving smarts of its own in the form of an iTunes server that creates a shared song library and automatically updates its playlist from the networked computers.
As with all WHS boxes, this one runs headless—without a display, keyboard, or mouse. You manage the NAS via a console app on any networked Windows machine or a browser using the Remote Access feature. The server’s four bays accept drives of any capacity (the EX470 I tested comes with one 500GB unit), but the capacities must match. External drives connect via USB ports (three on the front and one in back) or via an eSATA port in the back. They provide easy expandability and can vary in storage size.
Performance was fast on a home Gigabit network (123-MBps and 47.2-MBps write throughput with 32MB and 1GB files, respectively, and 56-MBps and 21.2-MBps read throughput). But a 100-Mbps network noticeably limits speed. I’d like to see wireless Ethernet and print- serving capability built in, but even without them the HP Media Smart Server’s ease of use, nice price, iTunes feature, and smart styling make it a good bet for most home networks that have at least one Windows PC.HP MediaSmart Server ReviewPrice Range:HP MediaSmart Server EX470: 599$HP MediaSmart Server EX475: 749$Check This Out:Maxtor OneTouch 4 Plus Review: Digital LifesaverWestern Digital My DVR Expander Review: Store More of Your Favorite ShowsUltra TravelDrive Review: Mini hard disk from Memorex