Subscribe / Unsubscribe Enewsletters | Login | Register

Pencil Banner

SkreensTV promises to render picture-in-picture mode useful

Michael Brown | Nov. 14, 2014
Does your TV have picture-in-picture mode? I'll bet you a bowl of virtual popcorn you never use it. I don't use mine for a number of reasons. I don't get audio with the second video for one thing, but it also sits atop the primary video, I can't resize it, and switching between the two feeds (and there are only two) is a pain in the remote.

Does your TV have picture-in-picture mode? I'll bet you a bowl of virtual popcorn you never use it. I don't use mine for a number of reasons. I don't get audio with the second video for one thing, but it also sits atop the primary video, I can't resize it, and switching between the two feeds (and there are only two) is a pain in the remote.

So I'm positively giddy about the prospect of installing a SkreensTV box in my home theater. The only problem is that I'll have to wait 13 months to get my hands on one, and that's assuming the company enjoys a successful Indiegogo campaign (it aims to raise $200,000 by December 13). But when you hear what they're promising to deliver, I'm sure you'll agree that funding shouldn't be an obstacle.

SkreensTV is picture-in-picture on steroids. The box can put video feeds from your set-top box, Chromecast, gaming console, home-theater PC, webcam, Skype session, Blu-ray player, IP security cameras, and more into picture-in-picture windows on any TV with an HDMI input. You can resize and reposition each window using a smartphone or tablet app. What's even cooler is that you can not only switch which audio feed is live on your TV, but you can also stream discrete audio feeds from each input to individual mobile devices over Wi-Fi.

So if you want to watch a movie while your kids play a videogame on an Xbox or PlayStation, you can split the screen anyway you want and have the movie's soundtrack play through the TV while the game's soundtrack streams to their headphones via their own smartphone or tablet.

During those sports season overlaps, you can watch a football game in one window and a baseball game in another. You could watch your movie in one window, find other films by the same director by looking him up in IMDb on your home-theater PC, and monitor your Dropcam feed in a third. Kids can't decide between an Xbox and a PlayStation? Buy both and they can game on the same TV at the same time.

Unlimited PiP?

From what the folks at SkreensTV tell me, there's no virtually limit on the number of times you can divide your TV's screen. There are limits on where those feeds can come from, but five HDMI 1.4 inputs, gigabit ethernet, and two USB ports should accommodate just about anyone's needs. The box has a S/PDIF audio output, but it will also pass digital audio — including high-definition Dolby Pro HD and DTS HD Master Audio — through to an AV receiver that can decode them.

SkreensTV will be available with 4-, 32-, or 64GB of onboard storage, so you'll be able to store digital videos and photos right on the box. But I imagine most people will opt for the least-expensive model and rely on network storage (that's what I would do, although that device will need to have either an HDMI or an HTML user interface. Something like QNAP's TS-469 Pro would be ideal.

 

1  2  Next Page 

Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.