Monsoon Announces Vulkano “God Box”

Dave Zatz —  January 7, 2010 — 12 Comments

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Monsoon Multimedia, makers of the HAVA placeshifting line (a Slingbox competitor), are prepping a new placeshifting device for launch in March. In addition to the remote streaming services Monsoon hardware currently provides, the new “Volcano” box (prototype pictured) takes it to high def – pushing video at up to 720p. Also, Android and Blackberry clients will be joining the existing lineup of  PC, Mac OS X, iPhone, Symbian, and Windows Mobile software with new integrated EPG functionality.

But the Volcano line is more than just a placeshifter, with actual video input and television out capabilities. For playback of local media (USB or eSATA storage, UPnP, DLNA) or a variety of web content, starting with YouTube streaming and CinemaNow video on demand downloads. Additionally, video from an attached set-top box can be offloaded onto attached or (later) integrated storage. For local or remote playback which can be streamed… or copied (think TiVoToGo) for subway or air travel.

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But wait, there’s more. Each Volcano device can stream to any other within the home via UPnP. Initially, this feature will be limited to files. Followed shortly thereafter by the ability stream live content from an attached set-top box. Meaning potentially one less cable STB in the home. A little bit down the road, the Volcano will offer true SlingCatcher capabilities in streaming live (or recorded) content beyond the home. A combined Slingbox+SlingCatcher device, along with the other DMA capabilities, like this is something we once referred to as a “God Box.”

The current pre-release Volcano UI is rough around the edges, although a Cover Flow-eque media interface looks promising. Aside from the remote, the hardware is by far the most attractive box Monsoon has produced. And, given the functionality along with integrated 802.11n, they’re launching at a very competitive $200 in March. A higher end unit, trading 4GB of flash memory for a 250GB hard drive, will also be available for $300. Stay tuned, as you know I’ll putting this through its paces later this spring.

12 responses to Monsoon Announces Vulkano “God Box”

  1. OTA HD antenna input would be nice. Perhaps clear QAM, too, but I think clear QAM will be come less useful as cable co’s begin encrypting more and more. But imagine if you could use that HD HomeRun cable card unit as a tuner!?!

  2. They’ve got some other tricks up their sleeve… we’ll see how it all plays out.

  3. Hava does not currently have a Mac client. I am salivating for the Android client though.

  4. Will this take component out of a STB to record 720p somewhere else without encryption, like the HDPVR? The Monsoon Platinum had Media Center drivers so it could be used as a networked tuner. A networked tuner for Media Center that could exploit the analog hole would be great. And the ability to have more than one on the same network is even better.

  5. Petey, good catch, my bad. I know there was a Mac SDK and then what I assumed would have been a launch a few months back. Not sure what happened. But a OS X client was definitely mentioned today, so it’s coming for Volcano. As an aside, Volcano is the working name. We can probably assume it will launch as something else.

    Ian, it’s my understanding you can hang a hard drive off this and record anything that passes through at 720p. Media Center didn’t come up, so I’m not sure if they’re retaining that linkage or how it’d work.

  6. So is there component-in? I hope so, but I can’t tell for certain from the port layout.

    Like the RCA input/output port groups, the component ports do have alternating, um, semi-sausages, but there’s no dedicated audio. And I’m not sure what’s going on with the port group labeled “C1″.

    Fingers crossed. If they do this right it will be a lot simpler than the Hauppauge/EyeTV/Slingbox cable nightmare I have…

  7. johhyO, The labeling may not be final, as I know the plastics aren’t. (There will be vents on top as part of the hatchwork surface.) Here’s a full size pic of the ports:
    http://www.zatznotfunny.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/volcano-ports.jpg

    I believe there are two sets of component input ports, including stereo audio input and one digital audio via RCA.

    To answer some questions from the forum, it’s likely the “HAVA” brand name will be retired and the unit records as MPEG2 and/or MPEG4. Could be more options, too – seems like a powerful processor/chipset with many tricks up its sleeve. I’m hopeful they can pull together the experience and messaging.

  8. I can tell you the mac sdk was horribad, first the interfaces were poorly documented and everything you did with it was an utter crap shoot if it would work. Once you finally did get video out of it the quality was absolutely terrible highly compressed 320×240 with no way to make it any better. They sent out a precompiled library and it just didn’t work right. The interface was clumsy too and lacked the straight forward options you would expect in a library like this. It was like someone said we need this and they took their existing code base refactored it into a module and left all the interfaces exactly like their refactoring tool left them and handed it over. Way back there was talk of gpling the code which would have meant clients everywhere but I was just checking the status of this today and no dice.

  9. Yeah… Monsoon has been promising us Mac kids (hell, even us linux kids) a player for a long, long time. (Like since 2006).

    The reason the Mac SDK looked terrible is because they took it from the mobile player and jumbled it together and emailed it to the SDK guys, hence the 320×240. (they do have an iPhone player…)

    Don’t get me wrong the 320×240 looks excellent on my iPhone, but on my computer, I would like a LITTLE better resolution

  10. Save your money. Why would you even considering buying from Monsoon after the lies of the past four years? For four years, they make us wait for Mac support and then release this saying oh this has Mac support. What about the rest of the $200 boxes we all have sitting here with no Mac support?

    Are Monsoon going to fix them for the Mac? Of course not they will say buy this new one. They strung us all along for four years just to basically get us to buy this. Now our Platinum boxes are all obsolete, no one will buy them from us and we will all be $200+ down expected to buy this crap.

    Sorry but it is not so much the device but more who you give the money to. Any company that can lie through its teeth for four years and then drop this does not deserve a penny.

  11. Buy a real computer… problem solved.

  12. Keep your Mac not worth switching to a dreadful Win OS for this.

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