Media entertainment tends to be more fun when experienced with friends and family, but it's not always convenient if those people live far away. A new device by Genii is designed to diminish the limitations of distance by livestreaming games, movies, or shows to anyone in the world. The Cast Hub allows up to six mobile devices to watch the same content, offering users the ability to enjoy and interact with each other in real time, as if on a virtual couch.
Those who own and use Google's Chromecast (or similar products) may be familiar with mirroring from a mobile device to a nearby TV. But instead of a single screen, the Genii Cast Hub takes mirroring one step further by letting the primary user create sessions to share media with up to five others devices. All that is required for each is a 4G/Wi-Fi connection and the Cast app, which is available for free on iOS and Android. The dome-shaped Cast Hub is completely wireless, so the only cable involved is the one for power.
The app works as the remote for navigating channels and selecting what to share, but it also offers users a way to communicate with each other without having to constantly switch to another app. Those in the same sessions can post instant messages and photos to each other while the main content plays. The Cast app keeps mobile in mind, so devices in landscape has the chatter on top as an overlay while portrait orientation keeps it below separately.
The Genii Cast Hub packs graphics and processor hardware that's designed to be capable of seamlessly receiving, mixing, and managing multiple HD streams and media sources. In addition to the standard Wi-Fi (b/g/n/ac) for connecting to the local network, the Cast Hub features a second Wi-Fi (n/ac) antenna that's dedicated to all of the video and audio traffic. This way, content can be shared without taking up all the normal Wi-Fi bandwidth. And when paired with a compatible HDMI stick, the Cast Hub can send the video to a nearby TV.
Unlike Periscope, which drew much attention earlier this year, the Cast app has limits to how it can share. This is good news for those who may be concerned about the type of streaming/sharing and potential repercussions. A Cast Hub is required in order for one to create a session, and the experience is limited to a total of six devices at any given time. There is no input for cable TV, so paid content (e.g. HBO, Netflix, sports channels, Amazon, etc.) will have to be available through a browser in order to be shared, and the broadcaster will be required to enter the proper credentials or login information.
The Genii Cast Hub is currently funding on Kickstarter, having raised 215 percent of its US$50,000 goal in 20 days, with another 40 days left to go. A pledge of $129 sets you up for one Cast Hub, saving $170 off the planned retail price. Those who want a Wi-Fi Cast Cam and/or Cast HDMI stick can add another $99 and $49, respectively.
If manufacturing, assembly, and shipping go according to plan, backers can expect shipments of the Genii Cast to start sometime September, 2016.
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