TiVo <--> Windows Home Server options

Discussion in 'TiVo Home Media Features & TiVoToGo' started by tluxon, Jun 8, 2010.

  1. Jun 8, 2010 #1 of 10
    tluxon

    tluxon Member

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    Feb 28, 2002
    Kirkland, WA

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    The kids have been complaining about how many shows I have marked "Keep Until I Delete" on our two 750GB TiVoHD's, as it is limiting their flexibility. To offload as much content as possible, I've just kept adding 1TB HDDs (started out as 500GB HDDs) to my PC until I couldn't really add any more.

    Meanwhile, the kids have complained that all our music is scattered about on 4 different PC's and my wife's been on me about not getting all our photos where she can easily find them. So this is coming to a head.

    For some reason, I was unaware of inexpensive alternatives other than buying enclosures and putting large drives in them and having a PC with numerous drive bays. I had just assumed a server would be out of the question because many years ago when I was quite involved with setting them up their cost was out of reach for a typical home user.

    A couple days ago I came across a deal on dealnews.com for a NAS. As I came to understand what a NAS did and how inexpensive they could be, I felt it was the solution to my issues. But first, I wanted to make sure there wouldn't be any problem viewing NAS-based videos in real-time on the TiVoHDs. I came back here to see what I could learn and came across the thread on the HP MediaSmart Expander for TiVo. This was my first exposure to Windows Home Server, and it didn't take much to convince me that a WHS would likely be a better solution for me than a NAS.

    Last night, as I started to look for other WHS's to compare to the HP MediaSmart, I came across a very big discount on dealnews for the Lenovo IdeaCenter D400-3013AU Home Storage Server. Lenovo had the price marked down to $469 from the original list of $499, but a coupon code lowered the price to only $319 with free shipping.

    With the price being so much lower than the other WHS's I found, I went ahead and ordered one at the greatly discounted price. My concerns are that the D400 uses a slower 1.6GHz Atom 230 processor and comes with only 1GB of RAM (expandable to 2GB), but reviews say that transfer rates are surprisingly good, noting that read access is very fast on these units. Another concern is that the D400 is only expandable to 8TB, while the EX490/EX495 is expandable to 15TB/17TB. With my history of "filling up the garage", I'm concerned that the 8TB limitation may be an issue. Also, one of my boys wants to be able to convert numerous videos for his iPod Touch, and HP's flavor of WHS has converting built in.

    Could Lenovo's big discount on these indicate that they are being "dumped" to make room for a more robust unit that would better compete with HP?

    Hoping to avoid buyer's remorse, I nearly called Lenovo to ask to cancel the order, but I don't want to be too hasty with a deal that may be awfully hard to beat.

    What do you guys that have WHS's think? I really don't mind spending a couple hundred more to get the features of the MediaSmart EX490/EX495 if it's going to make a noticeable difference. How noticeable do you think it would be?

    What do you see as the tradeoffs?

    What kinds of tasks does processor speed impact most?

    Is the money better spent on additional drive(s)?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Jun 8, 2010 #2 of 10
    moolman

    moolman New Member

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    From the standpoint of ease of use. The HP mediasmart servers are the easiest because the Tivo software is automatically installed. I have an older HP mediasmart and I didn't have to do anything. The Tivo software is already installed on the HP WHS and you just transfer it.

    I don't know how you off load shows onto the WHS using a different software but it can't be easier than the HP WHS since it is built in.
     
  3. Jun 9, 2010 #3 of 10
    tluxon

    tluxon Member

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    Feb 28, 2002
    Kirkland, WA
    I notice the Lenovo D400 has a integrated Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950, while the HP MediaSmart does not. I'm wondering if this could have anything to do with Lenovo's choice of the lighter CPU.

    Can an integrated graphics chip actually take any load off the CPU during typical WHS operations? Could it come into play during video streaming? Anybody know?
     
  4. Jun 9, 2010 #4 of 10
    noseph

    noseph New Member

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    Oct 13, 2003
    MA
    The GPU should never come into play on a WHS system. They are meant to run "headless" and only accessed remotely.
     
  5. Jun 9, 2010 #5 of 10
    CuriousMark

    CuriousMark Forum Denizen

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    The Netgear NAS boxes will also do HMO and serve up music and photos to your TiVo DVRs. They may even serve up video, but that part I am not sure of.
     
  6. Jun 9, 2010 #6 of 10
    tluxon

    tluxon Member

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    Feb 28, 2002
    Kirkland, WA
    This is what I figured as well, but in one of the many reviews I came across regarding the nearly identical Acer Easystore H340, a guy mentioned something about the GPU helping out in some manner with video. I have no idea if that is even possible or not, so I was curious to know what others might think.
     
  7. Jun 9, 2010 #7 of 10
    MichaelK

    MichaelK Active Member

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    i have one of hte older HP's and it has a dog of an amd cpu- like the atom to save power. It only had 1g memory and it works just fine to transfer.

    i upped the memory to 2gb and it is more responsive in the UI but the transfers were always plenty fast so that it only matters to the few times when you actually have to use the UI on the thing.

    the only issue with the dog slow cpu's is if you want to transcode video on the WHS. I am not sure if you can transcode on the fly with one and keep up. I have dabbled in converting dvd's and tv content to portable files and it's not exactly fast. But i just set up batch jobs and let things do what they want.

    MAYBE the gpu helps transcoding? But beyond transcoding it doesn't seem to need more omph.

    It does sound like lenovo is dumping it- but there's ALWAYS going to be a bigger and better around the corner.So i'd buy the cheap one now and then in a couple years when you fill it up get the googlybyte version that exists then.

    And I'm curious- why is there a limit to size of either box- i dont think the WHS OS limits things? You can just add external drives to get more from any box- no?
     
  8. Jun 9, 2010 #8 of 10
    tluxon

    tluxon Member

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    Feb 28, 2002
    Kirkland, WA
    Thanks for the input. I think I'm going to go through with this deal and spend the money saved on a couple 2TB drives.

    I have no idea why they show a 8TB limit - I'm guessing somebody at Lenovo didn't put a whole lot of thought into it and based that number on each of the 4 bays being filled with a 2TB (largest current size SATA) drive. There's no obvious reason why they wouldn't figure on additional drive space connected by eSATA unless some of their own programming couldn't handle everything Windows Home Server could throw at it. I downloaded and browsed through the User's Guide and it didn't even address the eSATA, so I wouldn't know some the real limitations until trying to exceed them.
     
  9. Jun 9, 2010 #9 of 10
    MichaelK

    MichaelK Active Member

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    Jan 10, 2002
    NJ
    I think you are right-probably just figured largest drive * 4 bays.

    The eSATA ports seem to be limited by their chipset. For example the original HP boxes could only handle a 4 bay external enclosure- a 5 bay would only show 4 drives. No idea about other boxes.

    But usb seems you could go crazy with. cascade usb hubs and one could probably add hundreds of drives. Wouldn't exactly be highspeed at all times but most applications to just have data sitting around 'just in case' you want it- would probably work fine.

    One last bit- to start you can just chuck any old drive you have lying around in the things. it is ridiculously easy to take a drive out of the array and put in a larger one. I've upgraded drives like 3 times already. You can see right on the dashboard how full each drive is. When you see them starting to get full you just tell the box to take whatever drive you want out of service. It transfers all the data on that drive to other drives in the array (just make sure to make sure you always leave that much room). Then you pull it and put in the larger drive. Wait 6 months till you get close again- lather rinse repeat.

    good luck and enjoy!
     
  10. mezlo

    mezlo New Member

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    Jan 25, 2006
    Just FYI - there is a beta test out with the new WHS system - codenamed Vail (which is based on Server 2008 instead of 2003). I'm not sure when it will be released into new machines, but it is coming (likely next 6 months IMO).

    Also be aware you can build your own system with basically whatever hardware you wish - the retail software is available for purchase at places like newegg.com.
     

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