MWC (Mobile World Congress) 2013 has been a busy show so far and our friends at Samsung have been stealing some of the spotlight with a slew of new mobile products including a new 8-inch Galaxy Note tablet. But the Korean manufacturer is heavily invested in both home entertainment and mobile technology -- and the convergence of the two -- so the release of the HomeSync 1TB Android Media Box at one of the biggest mobile conferences in the world shouldn't cause too much confusion. Is it designed to work with your Samsung tablet or smart phone? Absolutely. Will it spend 100% of its time underneath your HDTV? Count on it.
The HomeSync blends in perfectly with Samsung's flat-panel HDTVs and we would not be surprised if it ends up getting bundled with some of Samsung's Ultra HD 4K models and their OLED HDTVs; if they ever actually show up.
The sleek silver box is powered by a dual-core 1.7GHz processor, and includes 1 HDMI 1.4 output, an optical digital output, 1GB of RAM, 8GB Flash memory, 1TB HDD, Bluetooth 4.0 compatibility, Gigabit Ethernet support, and 802.11n 2.4 and 5GHz Wi-Fi.
So what makes this media streamer different from Roku, Apple TV, Boxee and the rest? This one runs the Android operating system and has access to the Google Play Store app market. This is a switch for Samsung who have previously been touting only their own proprietary app market on their TVs. Have they drunk the Google/Android KoolAid or will both app markets coexist in Samsung's Smart TV ecosystem? Will they offer a gaming type of remote so I can play all those time-wasting Android apps on my big screen? Can I turn my home theater projection screen into a giant flashlight? These details remain to be seen but we'll follow up with Samsung once the smoke clears.
The HomeSync runs off Android Jelly Bean (Samsung has yet to specify which version), which means that you can stream apps, video, and photographs (and we'll assume music and movies) from your Galaxy Note or Tab to the TV. The 1TB of hard drive space is a nice option to have.
Samsung did not specify if access to Google Play also means Google TV so for now we'll assume that the answer is no. The HomeSync will send all of your content via the HDMI 1.4 output in 1080p resolution to your HDTV.
Another interesting feature is that the HomeSync will allow up to 8 different users to set-up password-protected encrypted accounts on the box; users will be allowed to share their content with the other 7 accounts.
There is still no word if the HomeSync will support WiDi or Miracast, but the word at the confernce is that the boxes will start showing up in April in specific countries; and that includes the United States. Price is still to be determined but we expect to see this between $150-$200 when it launches.
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