Device acts as Wi-Fi bubble, network storage hub, and portable streaming media player

Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KS:005930) is perhaps best known these days for its smartphones and tablets, but the company is seeking growth in other electronics sectors as well.  At the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the company spoke to us about their push to esablish dominance in the DVD-burner market.

While most of Samsung's lineup is built upon sleek, cheap, portable models like the SE-S084D Super-WriteMaster ($44 USD), at the top of the lineup is an odd $130 USD device called the SE-208BW "SmartHub".  

Acting something like an Apple TV (from Apple, Inc. (AAPL)), the device is capable of streaming video and audio content over the air to your iPad or iPhone (yes, Samsung supports the iPhone).  But the Samsung device is much broader in its support, offering Android, iOS, Kindle, and Windows support.  It connects to "smart TVs" via the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) connectivity standard.  And most important of all, it packs a DVD writer for content backup and storage.

Samung SmartHub
[Image Source: Samsung Electronics]

In that regard the device is a little bit like the Seagate Tech Plc (STX) GoFlex Satellite -- in fact Samsung mentioned that device as it chief competitor.  But Samsung considers its device superior, as it can maintain both internet and streaming video at the same time, where as Seagate's product can only do one.  Also, the device's DVD burner allows it effectively unlimited storage, where as the Seagate device has a static hard-drive based capacity.

The device supports connections to up to four simultaneous devices, connected by Wi-Fi within 100 feet.  USB storage devices can be connected, creating a rich pool of storage and network accessible storage (NAS) possibilities.

Samsung SmartHub
[Image Source: Samsung Electronics]

The software from Samsung supports pull files like pictures off your smartphone and tossing them either on connected USB storage, or burning them to a DVD.  Alternatively, you can use the file browser to burn content from connect USB storage to DVD.  When accessing a particular DVD for either storage or entertainment, the hub is able to simultaneously access two positions, allowing two tablets (or a tablet and a TV) to be watching two different parts of the same movie at once.

The SmartHub will be available in black and white.  It lands on and, Inc. (AMZN) on Mar. 23, with a preorder kicking off March 16.  The device is already on MicroCenter's webpage. 

Samsung SmartHub MicroCenter

Overall the device seemed pretty impressive, but there's also some concerns to consider.  Engadget and The Verge both were in unanimous agreement that the early software they tested [1][2] made installation a daunting exercise in networking, precluding less tech-savvy users.  Also, the lack of Blu-ray is disappointing.  Samsung reassures that the second generation model will have built-in Blu-ray writing capabilties.

That said, for now, if you think you can tackle the technical challenges, and want to wirelessly stream/backup content, there's really no device on the market that we know of that's quite as flexible as the SmartHub.

Source: Samsung

"Intel is investing heavily (think gazillions of dollars and bazillions of engineering man hours) in resources to create an Intel host controllers spec in order to speed time to market of the USB 3.0 technology." -- Intel blogger Nick Knupffer

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