Traditionally when you think of a streaming USB or HDMI stick your brain defaults to the likes of Favi stick and other similar mini computers sporting a plethora of apps and services. We were graced with jak by bCODA during CES Unveiled. Looking at the box and taking note that it sounded great is about as far as we made it during the week. Tonight we broke into the box and started digging into the device a little and we were pretty impressed with what we discovered. The jak is a small USB thumb drive sized device. You simply plug it into any USB port on your PC, TV, XBox 360, PS3, Google TV box or even home stereo or car stereo and you are halfway done. You will need to install an easy to use Android app from the Play Store called Multishare Jak. It is free of course. The jak has a small WiFi module that receives signal from your device via the app and allows you to stream in full 1080p video. The app also lets you stream music and share your photos on the big screen at will, at any time, anywhere you happen to be. All of this is assuming you have something that will accept a USB drive and can actually read it. We have heard it works perfect on XBox 360 and PS3, but can’t confirm it ourselves. We imagine there shouldn’t be an issue. We tested it on a Logitech Revue Google TV and it was successful. We had to open the Logitech Media center, but were able to access all of our movies, music and photos for streaming. We have to say, streaming in 1080p worked like a charm. We also tested it out on a Windows XP netbook and Windows 7 Ultimate desktop. All worked without a hitch. Once plug-in, it prompted to open files and play. It did fail on the Wii, not all that surprising though, and also on our old Blu-Ray player. That thing doesn’t hardly work anyways. The app isn’t too terribly difficult to navigate. Once the jak is plugged in you open the app. For music files you need to set up a play list. For video, you open what ever app the input device utilizes or can utilize to play the files back. In most cases you don’t even use your phone or tablet, but the input devices controls to navigate to the file you want. I was personally surprised that I could go back to the homescreen and navigate my device and the movie kept playing. It had a hiccup or two, but it passed rather quickly.
All in all we were pretty impressed, but there are limitations to any device such as this. For instance, it doesn’t work with any other app. Meaning that all of your video, music and photos have to be local. As in, on your devices memory or SD card. You can’t hit up Netflix and then stream it through jak to your TV. It isn’t a screen share or mirroring type device. It does let you play back nearly any file type that the player you are plugged into supports. When connected, don’t expect to get any emails or GChat notifications. The app takes over your data connection to stream. That could be a deal breaker for some.
The images above obviously illustrate its use with a Google TV using a Logitech Revue and a Samsung Galaxy S III. Also the thumb drive is a Mimobot 8GB Darth Vader thumb drive to illustrate size. Yes, I got a pink one. Thought I’d be nice to David and let him have the green one.
As for pricing, well, that is a bit trickier. These devices aren’t out for mass consumption just yet. We are hearing a price tag of around $60. If you are a media junkie like I am, that price isn’t too terrible for something portable that allows you to connect up to 20 devices at once. We would love to see these hit the store shelves at around $35 or $40 though. As soon as we know the official pricing and where to buy them, we will let you all know.
[Update] bCODA has finally release jak for people to purchase. The USB streaming stick is available through NewEgg.com for $49.99. A little less than the rumor mill and a little more than we thought, but not by much. I personally still think it is a pretty great little device to have, even though it will only play local files to your screen or device of choice. Still, for its size and portability, it is a great item to have on your keychain. That is where I keep mine. I used it a few weeks ago at a birthday party to play back all the great moments of the event on the bigscreen tv. The family loved it.