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Today’s Show:

Skifta – May your stuff be with you.

The concept of ‘cutting the cord’ is more than just dropping cable or satellite to get rid of a monthly bill. It’s also about the freedom and convenience of being able to access whatever content you want, whenever you want it, and on whatever device you’d like to play it back on. As smartphones and tablets continue to proliferate, we can only assume they’ll play a big role in that new world. Qualcomm hopes Skifta can help get you there.

What is it?

From the Skifta.com website:
Skifta is an easy way to control, play and enjoy your music, videos and photos at home and on the move. There’s no uploading to the web or syncing to your phone. In fact, you don’t copy or move your stuff at all. You just leave it where it is. Then, whether it’s somewhere on the Internet or on your computer at home you can access your stuff remotely using your smartphone or tablet.

And here’s the magic bit.
Not only can you access your digital media from anywhere, with your smartphone or tablet you can also stream it to DLNA-Certified™ and UPnP-compatible TVs, IP-connected stereos, PlayStation 3 game consoles, Windows 7 PCs thousands of other connected consumer electronics devices anywhere.

So, you can take your digital media with you, without actually taking it with you.

How it works

At its heart, Skifta is an Android app (Android 2.2 and above) for playing back and sharing media. Sorry Apple fans, no iPhone or iPad support yet. To be honest, Skifta probably butts heads with AirPlay, so there may never be support for it on Apple devices. The biggest difference is that Skifta is built on the DLNA and UPnP specifications, which should make it a bit more generally available outside the Apple ecosystem. The app can be a player, a server, or what you might call a “bridge” between a server and a player.

As a player the Skifta app can connect to DLNA servers and play the content directly on your phone or tablet. The server can be local using a wifi connection, or can be accessed remotely using a 3g or 4g connection if you install the Skifta desktop application and register for an account. The player itself relies on the codecs and playback functionality of your Android device, so not all file types will play on all phones.

As a server, you can use any DLNA player, like a PC or a PS3 or Xbox360, to view, watch or listen to the content from your phone or tablet. Did you take some great pictures you’d like to show your friends or family? If they have an Internet connected TV with a DLNA app, you can throw your photos up on their big screen in no time. Or you can share music at a party or movies for movie night. It’s very simple. Skifta is able to find some DLNA players on the network and push content directly to them. For others, like the PS3, you have to use the player itself to connect to Skifta on the phone to view or listen to the media.

But the real magic comes in what we call, for lack of a better term, “bridge” mode. This allows you to use your phone to connect a DLNA server, either local or remote, to a DLNA player. If you’ve installed the Skifta DLNA desktop app on your movie server, you can play your movie collection on any DLNA player, anywhere in the world where you can get 3g or 4g data. The folks at Skifta are also madly at work adding “channels” you can add to play back Internet content using the Skifta app. The selection is limited right now, but should grow over time.

Up next

As you can imagine, using your phone or tablet as the middle man between the server and the player is less than optimal. Ideally Skifta would simply connect the player to the server and remove itself from the equation altogether. Although we couldn’t find any definitive statements about this at the website, we did read some hints to this effect at some other sites. So if we’re thinking about it, and others are as well, you can imagine Qualcomm is too.

So that would leave us with a platform that allows you to connect any media server, be it your own collection of photos, movies or music, or an online content source, with any network connected player. Forget cable and satellite, guides and DVRs, movie and music servers. All you need is a tablet. Browse around on your tablet, find something you want to watch, and send it to your TV. Or if you want to watch it in multiple rooms or on multiple screens, send it to all of them. No more remote controls either, just a tablet and a screen. That’s it.


Download Episode #519

Posted by The HT Guys, February 23, 2012 10:21 PM

About The HT Guys

The HT Guys, Ara Derderian and Braden Russell, are Engineers who formerly worked for the Advanced Digital Systems Group (ADSG) of Sony Pictures Entertainment. ADSG was the R&D unit of the sound department producing products for movie theaters and movie studios.

Two of the products they worked on include the DCP-1000 and DADR-5000. The DCP is a digital cinema processor used in movie theaters around the world. The DADR-5000 is a disk-based audio dubber used on Hollywood sound stages.

ADSG was awarded a Technical Academy Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2000 for the development of the DADR-5000. Ara holds three patents for his development work in Digital Cinema and Digital Audio Recording.

Every week they put together a podcast about High Definition TV and Home Theater. Each episode brings news from the A/V world, helpful product reviews and insights and help in demystifying and simplifying HDTV and home theater.