Zagg has made a big jump into the home convergence & placeshifting set top box market, from their typical line-up of cell phone screen protectors. Enter the ZaGGbox…
The device acts as a central hub for your various home TV devices (Xbox, Blu-ray player, PS3, DVR, cable box etc.), a way to watch media from devices on your home network as well as a Slingbox style placeshifter.
A neat feature of the Zaggbox, which is largely absent from other media streaming hubs, is the fact it has a truly universal remote.
You can control any device hooked up to the device with the remote (pictured below) or with the iPhone/iPod touch app. Remote control apps for other smart-phones are also due to be released.
I got to check out the Zaggbox at this year’s CES and it does have an easy-to-use onscreen interface. So using the universal remote to manage your integrated home media equipment from one convenient control is pretty easy.
Record from any Device
You can record from any device that is hooked up to the Zaggbox too onto its internal 1TB drive. This gives it basic DVR functionality as well as creating an easy way to record of gaming consoles or any other set top box.
When recording the ZAGGbox automatically reads and transcodes any video codec into two formats at one time; one for television viewing and a separate version optimized for the Apple iPhone/iPod family.
It’s video compression ability makes for high quality placeshifting if you want to view your home TV content on a computer or iPhone with an internet connection.
Stream Within & Beyond the Home
Media stored on the ZAGGbox can be broadcast within the home or beyond the home (like the Slingbox) via a browser or cell phone client.
The media content streams through UPnP, Video Podcasting, or a built-in web server. You can also share media with friends but the Zaggbox will screen the videos your share for copyright and may restrict what you can share.
In addition, the ZAGGbox has the ability to aggregate the video from compatible security cameras, which can be viewed on a live stream with a mobile Internet device. It makes sense that the Zaggbox could also be used as a live broadcaster – aka slingcatcher.
Being internet enabled it would have been a sweet bonus to have access to online video, but that could be cheaply achieved with a PopBox.
The ZAGGbox allows for home automation. Utilizing the Z-Wave system, it will be compatible with security systems, HVAC systems, door locks, or lighting. This feature set will be available shortly after launch.
- True Universal Remote
- 3 HD inputs & 2 SD inputs
- 1TB internal hard drive.
- 4 USB ports for expandable storage
- UPnP and DLNA support
- iPhone/Ipod remote control Apps
- Stream media from devices on home network
- Watch home recordings on any internet/3G/wi-fi connected iPhone or computer
- Home automation functions.
- Hard Disk – 1Terabyte
- Network – 100 Base-T
- Wireless – 802.11b/g/n; Ad-Hoc Open with WEP or Infrastructure Open with WEP, WPA-PSK with TKIP or AES
- Connectivity – SMB (Microsoft Windows share) or UPnP
- HDMi Output – v1.1
- Audio ADC – MP3, AAC, M4A
- Video Decoder – MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG4.2, WMV9, VC-1, MPEG4.10(H.264)/AVC, DivX®, Xvid
- HD Encoder – 10X compression for HD .mov files; 50X-100X compression for iPhone platform
- Inputs – 3 component, 2 composite video/S-Video, 5 USB 2.0, 8-1 Multi ready (SD, Xd, MMC) SD card reader. No HDMI Inputs?
- Parental Controls – USA TV/Movie, Canadian English/French rating levels, user-defined ratings, channel block, front panel control lock
- Closed captioning – Analog and digital closed captions with customizable colors, fonts, and backgrounds. Single-button CC on/off.
- True universal remote
- Plenty of inputs
- Aggregate home network onto the TV set
- Works great with iPhone
- Healthy 1TB internal hard drive & USB ports for more
- Access home media from anywhere
- No access to online TV channels
- Small monthly subscription fee
- No HDMI inputs
The Bottom Line
Priced at a whopping $999 (with a $799 pre-order option) this is an expensive device. If you have a bunch of black TV gadget boxes in your front room then this is a great device to bring them all together and make them accessible from one remote and allow online access. As a home media convergence device it does the job well, but still costly.
However, I can’t understand why there are no HDMI inputs. If you want to access all your home media devices via the Zaggbox interface then some of those will connect via HDMI, but you would have to settle for an SD composite connection unless they can stream over the home network.
Zagg did also mention a small monthly subscription fee (about $5/mo) which appears to be for the ability to stream your media beyond the home.
It is available for pre-order from the Zagg website, and any eBay deals will appear below when available:
No eBay items currently available.
- The Monsoon Volcano – Another home convergence device (which is cheaper)
- More internet TV set top boxes on WebTVWire
- HDMI cables on eBay
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