Finnish startup Linkotec is close to debuting the public beta version of dazzboard, a browser-based media manager that it says has all the goodness of iTunes but without the disadvantages of Apple’s closed environment.
Granted, we hear that a lot, but I’ve been invited to take an early peek at what they’ve been cooking and came away fairly impressed.
Dazzboard is currently invitation-only but is shooting for a Wednesday release of the public beta version. TechCrunch readers with limited patience (yes, you there) can already sign up to take it for a spin before that: 500 of you can register for an account right here. Note that the web application currently requires Windows – a Mac-compatible version is in the works – and works best when you’re using the latest Internet Explorer or Firefox browser.
With dazzboard, you can plug a wide range of mobile devices into your computer and easily transfer multimedia content like photos, videos and music to the web-based management interface, after which you can organize all your files and seamlessly share them through a variety of social networking services. It goes both ways: with the use of the ‘Dazz me’ bookmarklet you can download content from the Web to the media manager and distribute it to your favorite social network or your mobile device once it’s transferred to your account.
Dazzboard supports any portable device that can be used in mass storage or media transfer mode. The company divides the range of portable media players and mobile phones it supports into two groups: full supported devices (supported and maintained by the Dazzboard database, meaning no specific user action is required) and so-called generic devices (not fully supported by Dazzboard so handled as a generic media hub). In the latter case, it’s possible not all functionality of the media manager will work without any glitches.
All in all, dazzboard worked as advertised with the few portable devices I used to test it, and it does a great job syncing media content from and to social networks like YouTube, Flickr, etc. Of course, supporting ‘thousands of devices’ means that the company risks getting flooded with just as many device-specific support questions on a daily basis if it takes off. There’s a reason why closed platforms sometimes win.
Give it a whirl yourself and tell us what you think.