The next big thing in home computing could actually be very small. Imagine a high-tech compact box of tricks is not higher than Harry Potter hardback not contain nearly the same magic.
Picture it as a hub for your home network – hooked up to a desktop and laptop computers, gaming consoles, maybe even your home theater system, but certainly to the internet.
Now throw in the wish-list of expectations. Automatic back-up of your PC. The ability to store and share digital library of music and videos, so you can listen to your favorite iTunes playlist while someone else watches movies through their Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3.
Let everyone share the printer over the network. Being able to create an online photo album that is password protected, which family and friends can browse at their leisure.
The box can do all that and more. It is called the home server. So here’s the mystery. If the home server pack so many benefits to the pint-sized box, why they do not become the must-have accessory for the digital home?
“Most people would almost certainly have a need for a home server, but they just do not realize it yet. They may not know that a home server,” said Brett Chenoweth, chief executive of Gizmo, which helps consumers organize and make the most of their PCs.
“This is definitely one of those ‘Wow!’ opportunities where you really can see how it will change everything. Early adopters are only beginning to take on a home server, but in five or 10 years into the future, they will truly mass market. ”
The first hurdle could explain what a home server, let alone what it does.
“Consumers do not know or care about the server,” says Chenoweth. ” ‘Server’ Words do not mean anything to most consumers.”
David Hancock, of home technology services help Australia Geeks2U, said he went even deeper.
“There’s a bit of the fear factor; the word ‘server’ tends to scare people,” he said. “But when they know what they do, they are very enthusiastic about having one box with all of their files, photos and music all of them.”
Maybe it wise, then, that Linksys chose a little friendlier name of Network Media Hub for home servers, which was launched recently.
Like most home servers, representations photos do not do justice to their compact size – they will be dwarfed by the huge bucket of popcorn. But both NMH305 entry-level (A $ 649) and upscale NMH405 (A $ 699) pack a 500GB drive, with room for a second drive, which you can add as needed.
The second drive can be used to increase overall hub capacity so you can store more stuff, or it can automatically duplicate the contents of the first drive for a “belt and braces” approach.
Network Media Hub is designed more to manage all media that circulate in your home network and is locked on individual devices.
“Everybody’s got a PC, everyone has an iPod and a mobile phone and digital camera, so that everyone’s juggling digital content,” explains the director of Linksys Australia and New Zealand, Graeme Reardon.
“Network Media Hub looks across your network – Windows and Mac computers, iPhone, and even music and photos on your phone if it is connected to a wireless network -. And bring all the content together”
A customized web-like program used to browse photos and play music and video, including the popular internet video formats DivX and Xvid.
Of course, not alone in hoping Linksys home server will be the Next Big Thing on the home PC landscape. Netgear ReadyNAS family of bookend-sized servers proved their mettle in the business arena requires a long time before moving into the consumer market with the ReadyNAS Duo (ranging from $ 950 for 500GB).
While the ReadyNAS Duo has the same core features as Linksys Network Media Hub – such as file and printer sharing, remote internet access and act as an iTunes music and video library – do not bother trying to herd your digital content in one place. The ReadyNAS Duo maintains the integrity of backing up your data and store your belongings.
“People mostly get the importance of backing up their desktop or laptop to a USB hard drive,” said the director of Netgear Australia, Ryan Parker. “Now it’s only going one step further, to have a server that each PC can go back to and all people can access.”
The inbuilt software allows the ReadyNAS Duo Download file around the clock using the BitTorrent network and share photos via the internet straight from the server. “Instead of sending the e-mail that contains a lot of great photos, you can send them a link to a secure web page on your home server so that they can browse the photo album for themselves,” said Parker.
hard-drive maker Western Digital also has jumped into the home-server space with the drive My Book World Edition. At only A $ 399 for 1 terabyte of storage, it’s an absolute bargain.
Given the desire for a home server to always be on, it was the same they are designed to run quietly and consumes little power – about 30 watts, less than bedside lamps average.
Microsoft is also staking a claim for a piece of the action but its products have more zero than hero.
While the product is excellent in itself and is highly respected among the elite addict, Windows Home Server has failed to ignite public interest.
“If you have broadband in your home and you have more than one PC in your home, then you need a home server,” said the expert server with Microsoft Australia, Jeff Alexander.
“People have all these things on their PCs – documents, music, photos, home movies – but they tend to have difficulty backing up all things Many people I know do not have a hard copy of the photo, it is all digital. Today.
“You have to ask yourself what would happen if you lost all the photos. What if you have a home server to support them every night, automatically?”
Poster child for Windows Home Server is the HP MediaSmart – style, fat, black piano Unit stands just 25 centimeters high. Alexander said Microsoft is “working with HP to launch possible” from the MediaSmart here. This could provide a kick just needs a home server.
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