LAS VEGAS - Your living room is about to get a big upgrade. MobiTV's Connect streaming stick, which is expected to launch in 2015, will turn your TV into a hub for gaming and smart home gadgets. Here at CES 2015, the company showed me a taste of what the Connect can do in a private demo, and I was blown away by its prowess.
Think of MobiTV as a beefed-up Chromecast. In addition to being able to stream content from apps such as Netflix and Crackle, the MobiTV Connect also offers access to live programming (with a subscription) and network DVR functions. This means you could potentially record TV shows on your streaming stick. The company is still working out the details with the DVR function, as there are many copyright regulations involved.
What I thought was the coolest part of the MobiTV was its ability to integrate with smart home devices. During my demo, the company had set up two Philips Hue light bulbs in its suite to dim when you started playing a video, and light up again when you hit pause. I watched in awe as this happened when we started and stopped the Bloomberg channel. There's more that can be done with integrated appliances, says MobiTV, and the light demonstration I saw was just an example. The actual applications available at launch will depend on what the company and developers can come up with.
I was also impressed that you can install any Android game on the MobiTV Connect to play on the big screen, turning it into a nifty little console. Using the Connect gaming app, you can download any game on the Play store and install it on the dongle, which has 2GB of storage dedicated to games. The app then turns your smartphone into a controller for that game.
I had so much fun owning at TurboFly HD on the Connect, wielding a Nexus 5 to navigate my flyer, that I stalled the demonstration by five minutes. The game ran smoothly, and there was no latency between the phone as a controller and the game onscreen.
Physically, the Connect that I saw is bigger than the Chromecast, but MobiTV says the device is still being finalized and that branding and logo images could still change. We'll have to wait to hear more about pricing and availability for the Connect, but the company says it will be competitively priced.