Network-attached storage with a twist
The Media Vault is a smart-looking silver-and-black minitower that closely resembles the chassis used on one of HP's compact PCs). In the PC World Test Center's evaluation, the mv2020 turned in middle-of-the-pack performance, taking 6 minutes, 6 seconds to complete our copy files test, and 4 minutes, 51 seconds to run our file search test. The mv2020 ships with a single 500GB fixed SATA drive, plus one removable expansion module that can accommodate the SATA hard drive of your choice (up to 750GB), for a total of 1.2TB of storage. HP sent us the mv2020 with a second 500GB SATA drive already installed in the expansion module.
At US$550 for the 500GB model, the mv2020 is a roomy network-attached storage drive with an attractive cost per gigabyte (US$0.55 per GB). HP also offers a 300GB mv2010 for US$350.
The mv2020 attaches to your network via its single gigabit ethernet port (in this regard, the MV200 actually outstrips the SLC3760N's 10/100 ethernet connection). The unit may be configured for access through the Web, through FTP, and through your network. You can grant access to the device for entire workgroups or single users.
Installation required only a bit of effort: The mv2020 shows up under Network Places; and in order to access it from within Windows Explorer, you'll have to map it to a drive letter. The unit's HTML setup app (accessible through your Web browser) doesn't specifically mention RAID, but it allows you to set up one drive to mirror another for redundancy -- a useful precaution against drive failure when you're backing up data.
By default, HP ships the unit with several preconfigured folders, including one for backups and another (titled MediaShare) for media that you intend to share on the network. To get you started with media sharing, HP has preloaded a copy of Universal's movie The Bourne Identity onto the unit in a folder titled CinemaNow (the company also supplies two free movie downloads at CinemaNow).
The mv2020 will functions as a print server if you attach a supported USB printer to one of its three USB 2.0 ports (two are rear-mounted and one is front-mounted). You may attach additional USB storage drives to expand the mv2020's storage capacity.
Based on what I've seen with the MediaSmart TV and the Media Vault storage device, HP understands consumer/PC convergence. Both of these devices are excellent choices for anyone who wants to set up a home multimedia network with minimal fuss.