Monsoon Multimedia, makers of the HAVA placeshifting line (a Slingbox competitor), are prepping a new placeshifting device for launch in March. In addition to the remote streaming services Monsoon hardware currently provides, the new “Volcano” box (prototype pictured) takes it to high def – pushing video at up to 720p. Also, Android and Blackberry clients will be joining the existing lineup of PC, Mac OS X, iPhone, Symbian, and Windows Mobile software with new integrated EPG functionality.
But the Volcano line is more than just a placeshifter, with actual video input and television out capabilities. For playback of local media (USB or eSATA storage, UPnP, DLNA) or a variety of web content, starting with YouTube streaming and CinemaNow video on demand downloads. Additionally, video from an attached set-top box can be offloaded onto attached or (later) integrated storage. For local or remote playback which can be streamed… or copied (think TiVoToGo) for subway or air travel.
But wait, there’s more. Each Volcano device can stream to any other within the home via UPnP. Initially, this feature will be limited to files. Followed shortly thereafter by the ability stream live content from an attached set-top box. Meaning potentially one less cable STB in the home. A little bit down the road, the Volcano will offer true SlingCatcher capabilities in streaming live (or recorded) content beyond the home. A combined Slingbox+SlingCatcher device, along with the other DMA capabilities, like this is something we once referred to as a “God Box.”
The current pre-release Volcano UI is rough around the edges, although a Cover Flow-eque media interface looks promising. Aside from the remote, the hardware is by far the most attractive box Monsoon has produced. And, given the functionality along with integrated 802.11n, they’re launching at a very competitive $200 in March. A higher end unit, trading 4GB of flash memory for a 250GB hard drive, will also be available for $300. Stay tuned, as you know I’ll putting this through its paces later this spring.