A few people have asked me when they can expect to see a review of the HP MediaSmart Home Server on Giz AU recently. The answer is simple: when I can get the fracking thing to work.
I’m a pretty tech savvy guy. I know my way around gadgets. I’m not quite a command line kind of geek, but as a general rule I have no problems setting up, testing and using a gadget. But the Mediasmart is an entirely new beast altogether. My entire relationship with it is one filled with anger, bitterness and disappointment.
It started off exciting. After a few initial hiccups involving an incorrect power cord and a lack of software, I got the home server plugged in and installed. The thing I was most interested in testing was its apparent Mac friendliness, mostly because I use an iMac at home and a MacBook Pro in the office. But the term friendliness is misleading here, because even after weeks of trying off and on, I still can't get the two machines to talk to eachother. Mind you, I struggle to get a Windows 7 laptop to talk with the server as well, so it's not exactly an Apple thing.
For some reason, HP's media scanning software refused to work with the Mac. It would look at the relevant folders, note they were there, but would not do its job and copy them. For a week I tried every possible combination and permutation to get it to work but nothing succeeded. Then came a firmware update. I updated software on my iMac, but not the server itself, and things started happening. Suddenly my music and photos were migrating to the server. Success! Until I updated the server's firmware, which borked everything worse than ever.
So now, here I sit with a server at my feet that refuses to do its job. The latest update also borked the access software on the Mac, so I can no longer control the server via the Mac - there's a login screen that doesn't accept the password or login details. It's enough that I've wasted at least a full day and a half over the past 6 weeks or so trying to get it to work with extremely limited success.
So at this point, what would you do? Persevere, hoping that it's just a glitch in your own understanding of the tech, or give up casting the server back to the demons who crafted it in hell? Fortunately mine is a review unit and I'll just send it back when I'm done with it, but part of me really wants it to work. I want a home server for my media files and backups, and I love the idea of the HP. But until it's a simple solution that just works, I can't see the "home server" market taking off...