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Skreens Could Change The Way You Consume Digital Media

Four new devices from a company called Skreens popped up on Kickstarter this week, and it could very well change the way you consume your digital media.

The base models, the NexusTwo and NexusFour, are powerful little devices that let you display multiple video sources onto one display, at the same time. They let you resize windows on-the-fly and can support up to four HDMI sources at one time. For example, the NexusTwo and NexusFour will let you play a video game while watching a TV show or movie. You could even have a web browser or chat window open, too.

Skreens is releasing four variants of its screen-sharing devices. The NexusTwo and NexusFour are the basic units that have two and four HDMI ports, respectively. The basic models can share screens, but lack many of the features that the Pro models have.

Skreens NexusTwo and NexusFour will let you resize windows and position them any place you would like on the display, and the device will save the layout so you don't have to configure it every time. The company sees this as a great fit for streamers who can play a game in one pane, and have the Twitch chat screen off to the side, and even view their own broadcast while doing it. What streamers use multiple displays for now can be done with one panel using screens.

In addition to having multiple video sources, the Skreens Nexus Pro devices have support for transparency, allowing for overlapping panes. They also support chroma key, so you could overlay yourself in a broadcast without the need for a PC to do the work. This will be especially handy for those streaming console games. Cropping of video sources is also supported, which will allow for very unique viewing setups.

The Skreens NexusTwoPro and NexusFourPro devices are able to handle audio for all inputs, though it will only output one through the HDMI port or optical S/PDIF port to the stereo. Using the associated smartphone application, the primary audio source can be selected, and all other audio channels are broadcast through Wi-Fi. Using a tablet or smartphone, users can listen to the additional channels. Thus, you could have someone listening to one thing on headphones while the main source comes through the stereo. The standard Nexus models do not have the capability to broadcast the other audio channels.

Screen configuration for the device is controlled by a smartphone application. The app is available for Android and iOS devices and enables the ability to resize windows using the pinch gesture and drag panes into place using the touch screen. Changes are applied in real time to Skreens, making it simple to configure it exactly as you'd like. The Pro versions of the devices add universal remote control support to the application.

Skreens is running a Kickstarter campaign to get the Nexus devices to market, and so far it is going very well for the company. The initial goal of $25,000 has been shattered, with the company raising over $100,000 in the first 24 hours and more than double that amount so far.

The NexusTwo can be had for as little as $179. The pro version is going for $299. The four-port NexusFour starts at $325, and the Pro version is $450. Skreens is also offering a "Professional Streamer" streamer package that includes two NexusFourPros that can be daisy chained together for a total of seven usable inputs.

Skreens NexusTwoSkreens NexusFour
1" tall, 4.75" long and 3" deep1" tall, 4.75" long and 3" deep
Kintex®-7 Field Programmable Gate array with Dual ARM® Cortex™-A9 MPCore™ with CoreSight™ (Over 1M ASIC Gates)Kintex®-7 Field Programmable Gate array with Dual ARM® Cortex™-A9 MPCore™ with CoreSight™ (Over 4M ASIC Gates)
NEON™ & Single / Double Precision Floating Point for each processor, 1GHz eachNEON™ & Single / Double Precision Floating Point for each processor, >1GHz each
802.1 b/g/n Wi-Fi/BT802.1 b/g/n Wi-Fi/BT
Dual USB 2.0 (for Skreens approved peripherals)Dual USB 2.0 (for Skreens approved peripherals)
Dual independent HDMI 1.4 up to 1080p/60Quad independent HDMI 1.4 up to 1080p/60
Single HDMI 1.4 output 1080p/60Single HDMI 1.4 output 1080p/60
Skreens OSSkreens OS

Skreens said that backers will start receiving their devices in March of next year.

Follow Kevin Carbotte @pumcypuhoy. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

Kevin Carbotte is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He writes news and reviews of graphics cards and virtual reality hardware.
  • voljin
    So like having multiple monitors but not as good?
    Reply
  • zahoome
    I wonder how long before they need to change their product names away from Nexus?

    I agree, voljin. I can see this being useful for a TV in the living room (where PIP on TVs seems to have fallen out of favour), but I would prefer having multiple monitors for a computer. I suppose if desk real estate was an issue, this could be useful, but then you only get a fraction of the screen size for each window.
    Reply
  • Solandri
    16719562 said:
    I wonder how long before they need to change their product names away from Nexus?
    Nexus (as a name) comes from the movie Blade Runner, where the androids are Nexus 6 models. I'm not sure if Google bought the rights to the name from Ridley Scott.

    I agree, voljin. I can see this being useful for a TV in the living room (where PIP on TVs seems to have fallen out of favour), but I would prefer having multiple monitors for a computer. I suppose if desk real estate was an issue, this could be useful, but then you only get a fraction of the screen size for each window.
    This is one piece of the puzzle to harmonize all your devices into one virtual operating space. That eliminates annoyances like having to transfer data between devices if you want to, say, play a movie on your tablet which is physically stored on your PC. As well as allows you to do things like work on a document on your PC, then switch to working on it on your tablet while you sit on the toilet.

    Unfortunately, it's just a small piece of the puzzle. The biggest impediment right now is Microsoft and Apple jealously guarding their OS fiefdoms. Google is doing this sorta right, in that your data is tied to an app (like the Chrome browser) instead of an OS. And the app is available for all OSes. Where they're blowing it is they're insisting you store the data on Google's cloud servers, instead of giving you the option to store it on your devices at home or a different cloud service.
    Reply
  • Achoo22
    Unless they open up the source for their smartphone application, I am not interested in the product. The vast majority of smartphone applications have integrated telemetry, and I am absolutely disinterested in pinging some third party every time I change channels or resize my screen.
    Reply
  • techguy911
    I have a 4k Asus PB287Q monitor i can watch a 1080p movie on left side and play a game on right side in 1080p without buying anything it has picture by picture built in hardware.
    What is funny i can't buy a 4k movie STILL?? the 4k blu-ray format is still not available yet yet they are pushing 4k tv's for 2 years.

    Reply
  • jaber2
    so like what I am doing now?
    Reply
  • RedJaron
    16719692 said:
    16719562 said:
    I wonder how long before they need to change their product names away from Nexus?
    Nexus (as a name) comes from the movie Blade Runner, where the androids are Nexus 6 models. I'm not sure if Google bought the rights to the name from Ridley Scott.
    Incorrect. Nexus is a Latin root word that means a link or connection, typically talking about a central area where many things come together. Ford and Toyota are limited in how they can sue companies for using "mustang" and "corolla" because they can't charge people for talking about horses and flowers. Conversely, "Camry" and "droid" are specific made up words, thus Motorola and others pay LucasFilm ( now Disney ) royalties.
    Reply
  • AnimeMania
    Am I understanding this right, this device takes four 1080p screens and displays them on one 1080p screen. It seems that they could have been a little more ambitious and displayed the four 1080p screens on a 4K display maybe through HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort.
    Reply
  • CaedenV
    Am I understanding this right, this device takes four 1080p screens and displays them on one 1080p screen. It seems that they could have been a little more ambitious and displayed the four 1080p screens on a 4K display maybe through HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort.
    Well, they need to have a v2 to sell you in a year or two.
    Reply
  • adamboy64
    Seems like a neat idea for where you need to have say, 4 devices, but don't necessarily have the space for 4 screens.

    I like it.
    Reply