Hey guys! So remember when yesterday, I wrote about some awesome new startup that raised some money but didn’t want to talk about the product it was building? Well, gather up close, ‘cuz I’m gonna tell you all about it.
The name of the startup is PLAiR, and it’s raised $2.1 million to roll out a new product to help users distribute content from over the Internet to their TVs. But we knew that already.
So what’s it building? When I asked the founder yesterday, he told me that the startup’s premise was to enable viewers to “watch anything, anytime, anywhere.” Well, thanks to a tipster, as well as a little bit of sleuthing on my own, I’ve got a few more details about the actual product. [Thanks, Asad!]
PLAiR is a dolphin fin-shaped USB dongle designed to connect to your TV and, through the power of wireless networking, will allow you to send photos or videos from your computer, tablet, or mobile phone directly to the big screen in your living room.
A source tells me that it’ll probably sell for less than $100, probably in the $59-$79 range, making it competitive with other streaming video devices like the Apple TV and the Roku. Difference is, while those devices are (mostly) constrained by the partnerships and apps that content owners have made for the devices, PLAiR is designed to unlock the entire world of web and mobile video content and send it to your TV.
“Basically, if you can find it online or play it on your mobile device, you can play it on TV,” says the PLAiR promotional video.
The product works like this: You buy the dongle, connect it to your TV’s USB port, and wait 30 seconds for it to get ready. Then, you launch the PLAiR mobile app, which scans for local devices. Once you’ve chosen the PLAiR device, you provide it with the WiFi network info and password through the app, and then it will use that hotspot to beam content to the TV. You then choose the TV brand that you have so that the device will know how to format content that users send over. Once that’s done, the videos will appear in the TV’s USB folder, where users can watch them at their leisure.
The company will roll out apps for iOS and Android devices that will allow users to easily beam videos they’re watching on those devices to the TV. It will also have a web page and browser extensions that will let users create and manage playlists of content. Once you beam videos to the TV, you can go back to browsing whatever you’re looking at on the web. Users can also hook up multiple devices and beam to more than one TV at the same time.
So PLAiR isn’t a new idea, and other startups have tried to do similar things — like for instance, Snapstick, which announced its product a year and a half ago. But its big competitor is Apple’s AirPlay. While you need multiple Apple device to make it work, Apple TV has already sold a ton of units, and it’s also sold a ton of iPads and iPhones. Oh, and let’s not forget that Mac OSX Mountain Lion also enables AirPlay Mirroring — basically letting anyone stream anything from their Mac to the Apple TV. So good luck, PLAiR!
Anyway, for some video captures of the product and screenshots from the website, check out the gallery below.