You’ve heard of second screen apps and devices, but the new SkreensTV set-top box crowdfunding project wants to turn your TV into five screens at once. The $399 device will can handle up to five separate HDMI signals and lay them out as a single image.
SkreensTV is scheduled for release in Winter 2015 and will eventually retail for $499.
If this project can deliver on its promises, it will be more than worth the price. While I have some reservations about the SkreensTV’s feasibility, I have seen a prototype in action. The box worked as expected, although the app remote’s interface was still at a very early stage.
You’ll have full flexibility to arrange each of the screens on the final output. The end results sometimes look strange with lots of empty black space, but you can save your settings if you find a combination that works.
In addition to the five HDMI inputs, you’ll also be able to install HTML5 apps and run a browser on SkreensTV. The device should appeal to sports fans who want to watch multiple events and gamers who like to watch Twitch or YouTube while playing. It’s also paradise for the consummate channel surfer.
One use case I’m interested in for SkreensTV would be for hosting a LAN party. You could have a friend bring over a PC or console and play together online, replicating the split-screen functionality that many modern games have abandoned.
Theoretically, your whole family could gather around the TV and all watch and play different content. Multiple audio signals can be routed to mobile devices over Bluetooth and WiFi, and you can pipe one source through to your entertainment center.
Hardware crowdfunding campaigns are often risky for backers, especially ones as ambitious as SkreensTV. When I asked Marc Todd, SkreensTV’s founder and CEO, about how confident he is about shipping on time, he said:
I feel very strong that I can deliver. I have a semiconductor partner. I’ve worked manufacturing this prototype, I have a game plan for bringing this to market. I’ve spent over two years putting this together to make sure that it all works.
The input situation for my TV is a mess. Bouncing between multiple consoles, set-top boxes and streaming sticks may be a first world problem, but it’s still a problem. SkreensTV offers hope for a better TV experience, but you’ll have to take a risk with it.
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