SkipJam Simplifies the Electronic House

Over the last few years, we've heard a lot about the "electronic house," an application that will seamlessly integrate personal computers and home entertainment systems throughout an entire household. If customers have been slow to adopt this concept, it may be because the existing options have tended to be complicated to use and install—not to mention expensive. SkipJam may have a solution for all three objections.

The Port Chester, NY–based manufacturer of home media networking hardware and software has announced the impending arrival of SkipJam iMedia, which the company describes as "the first ever Network Attached Media solution." SkipJam iMedia is designed to offer a "high-fidelity, all-digital integrated home entertainment system . . . [combining] whole-house audio and video distribution with digital recording and home control."

Designed to work over any wired or wireless home network, the SkipJam system consists of the SkipJam iMedia Center ($499), which is a media switcher that sends and receives audio and video, and several SkipJam iMedia audio and video players, which can receive but not send video and audio. The company notes that the system can be expanded by adding components as needed.

There are three iMedia players:

1) The iMedia Player ($499), which has audio and video outputs, but no inputs, provides audio and video access to any type of media attached to the network (any digital or analog device connected to a SkipJam iMedia Center, as well as Internet-based streaming content or any digital media stored on any locally connected storage device such as a network attached server (NAS) or PC hard drive). The SkipJam iMedia Player includes outputs for analog video (TV) and analog and PCM (optical and coaxial) digital audio.

2) The SkipJam iMedia Audio Player ($299), which has audio output only, provides audio access to any network attached audio media. The iMedia Audio Player includes analog and PCM (optical and coaxial) audio outputs.

3) The SkipJam iMedia Audio Player Pro ($499) is designed for in-wall installation in whole-house audio applications and includes a complete SkipJam iMedia Audio Player as well as powerline networking, a stereo 30Wpc Class-T amplifier, and connections for a pair of loudspeakers.

Since the iMedia Player doesn't house a hard drive itself (it utilizes the storage resident in other components within the network), noise-sensitive HT fans can keep the hard drives in remote locations where they don't interfere with enjoyment of the program material. The iMedia products employ MPEG-4 compression, which increases the storage capacity of the network's drives.

The following list of features comes from SkipJam's product announcement:

• High-end audio and video for superior digital audio and video reproduction (eg 24-bit 192Khz DAC/ADCs with 114db dynamic range)

• Personal Video Recorder using MPEG-4 for complete networked multi-tuner recording of favorite shows to any networked hard drive

• Universal whole-house remote control of any device from anywhere, even while away from home

• Live media streaming allows consumers to move any A/V source "live" to any other room, wired or wireless

• Digital Video Recorder records DVD, VHS, and music (even radio) to any networked hard drive to watch any time

• No PC required#151;consumers can network AV devices and digital media (MP3, MPEG-1/2/4 etc), even without a home PC

• TV to PC connectivity allows consumers to play MPEG-1/2/4, MP3, WMA, WAV, Ogg, JPG, and more

• PC to TV connectivity accesses PC desktop screen on the TV, allowing consumers to check email or run any PC software from remote TV screens

• Home Intercom allows consumers to use any stereo/TV as a paging speaker or speakerphone

• Comprehensive—includes 32/64-bit superscalar MIPS architecture CPU with separate DSP processors for audio and video, dual PCI buses, and dual Ethernet ports, integrated TV and FM tuner

• Flexibility—four analog video inputs, six analog audio inputs, four PCM digital inputs (optical and coaxial inputs and outputs), Firewire, USB 2.0, three IR output ports, IR Blaster LEDs, RS232 control

If SkipJam can actually bring these products to market at the prices predicted, the age of the electronic house may finally be upon us.