There are more NAS appliances on the market than you can shake a stick at but for the average home user many are either too expensive or overly heavy on the features. HP's Media Vault Pro aims to redress the balance as this compact desktop unit is a simple appliance that's easy to install, provides a central location for file sharing and PC backup and is friendly on the pocket.
Costing just a shade over £200, the mv5020 certainly looks good value as it comes with a single 500GB SATA hard disk. This is fixed behind the main air grille but you can add a second SATA drive via a removable tray above. This is entirely tool free as the tray has mounting pins in place and the new drive is slotted in place by flexing one side rail back slightly. Once powered up you can use the management interface to opt for a mirror for redundancy or a stripe for maximum space.
The mv5020 is nicely built and designed. It comes equipped with a basic Marvel SoC (system on chip) processor and 128MB of DDR2 memory which can't be upgraded. You get a Gigabit Ethernet network port and USB 2.0 ports fore and aft for adding extra external storage devices. Whereas HP's MediaSmart appliances run Windows Home Server (WHS), the mv5020 uses a custom Linux kernel. Installation is just as easy as you connect the appliance up to your DHCP enabled router and run the setup routine from the supplied CD-ROM. This loads a monitoring utility in the System Tray and HP's Control Center management tool.
The console interface opens with a bunch of chunky icons for easy access to each feature. The Main tab on the console offers icons for viewing folders for documents, music, photos and videos and one for accessing HP's Photo WebShare feature where you can make photos available to remote users allowing them to view your works of art and add their own pictures if allowed.