CES 2016 featured a shiny new television or set top box on almost every square foot of the Las Vegas Convention Center. When you leave the event you'll long for a new crisp high definition television set of your own. Sadly, one of the biggest challenges on today's TVs is managing multiple inputs.
This problem is often compounded for telecommuters who want to take advantage of their large displays to connect their laptops and other devices for more screen real estate, to enable video conferencing, and more. At CES, I found a device that could help: Skreens.
At first glance, the Skreens hardware looks like yet another A/V switcher. Coupled with up to four HDMI ports, USB ports, Ethernet connectivity, WiFi , Bluetooth, and a chipset from Xilink, the Skreens A/V switcher allows multiple connections and output through one cable. Oh wait, that's what most A/V switchers do! The difference between Skreens and other switchers is that your single output allows you to simultaneously view all connected streams. This essentially turns your television into a desktop-like environment with window management.
We live in a world today where multitasking has become an unconscious habit. Most consumers can't sit down and enjoy a television show without having their hands on a smartphone or tablet, checking social media. Even while working on a project for the office, staff members tend to have multiple windows open on their computers—yet not all windows are related to the project at hand. There are always multiple threads running in our day-to-day life. We're not a single operation society anymore.
Having the Skreens switcher, you can connect any HDMI enabled device and set up window management to fit your needs. You want to review a budget analysis from the marketing department and compare it to the budget from IT... as well as keep the New York Stock Exchange ticker scrolling? You can connect your laptops via HDMI to view the different spreadsheets simultaneously without missing a beat on the volatility of the Dow.
No more trying to figure out which remote controls the television, the audio, or the cable service. Actually, no remote is needed at all. Skreens comes with an app to install on your mobile device of choice. Greg Johnson of Skreens said that a tablet device would be more ideal, as it has a larger screen. This allows for easier use when controlling window placement and sizing. If your computer is one of the connected devices, you can also use the web interface to control your Skreen. Both are user-friendly experiences.
Skreens' KickStarter was successfully funded November 2015 and is scheduled to ship in Q2 of this year. Pricing hasn't been specified for consumers, but the early backers have been told their products will ship in Q2. One could guess that the pricing will be competitive with other set top boxes and A/V switchers—even considering the impressive chipset the Skreens device has.
Other use cases?
What would be your use case for Skreens? As a telecommuter, I could use this device to study SQL scripts and listen to a movie on Netflix from the comfort of my recliner. I could also see this device used in the board rooms of the enterprise as attendees analyze the data at hand. Share your thoughts with fellow TechRepublic members.
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Ant Pruitt is an IT Support Professional with a passion for showing the non-geek how great technology can be. He writes for a variety of tech publications and hosts his own podcast. Ant is also an avid photographer and weight lifter.