Skifta Review

Skifta Review

Aug 20, 2012

All of the digital media collected over time seems to end up sitting at home more than it should. On those nights out, there are times when a playlist from home might be just what the party needs. Skifta is an app for Android giving access to all of your digital media and the ability to stream it to a Wi-Fi device like a TV or PS3.

The way Skifta does it’s thing is not just through the Android app, there are other parts too it. An online account is needed as the “middle man” and an app is needed for the Windows computer at home to allow the connection. All of those can be downloaded for free here: http://www.skifta.com/getting-started

Once everything is downloaded, it’s a matter of connecting everything. The steps to make the connections are pretty are laid out pretty well on the Skifta site. One tip many people might overlook is to make sure the firewall on the home computer will allow Skifta to accept incoming requests. This may also need to be changes in the computer’s anti-virus program.

In testing, everything went great with streaming music. It pulled up my entire music library and streamed music I don’t have anywhere on my tablet. I have a few .avi files on my computer from screencasts. They played just fine but took a little longer to load than the music did.

When using a PS3 to stream to, there is an option for an unlisted player. This will let any device connected to the same Wi-Fi network find and stream from Skifta on the Android phone. Simply fire up the PS3 and go to the spot where the media servers show up.

Overall Skifta is pretty easy to use. Because there are not a lot of other free options that work this well, I have no real complaints on how it works.

VLC is Coming to Android – Try Out an Early Build Now

VLC is Coming to Android – Try Out an Early Build Now

May 21, 2012

VLC, the open-source cross-platform media player, is finally making its way to Android. While an official release is still in the distance, with the official VideoLAN website stating that VLC for Android is “in development,” impatient users who want to walk on the wild side can download an unofficial (as in, not released by VideoLAN themselves, although with code released under the GPL, anyone can compile the app) hourly build for Android. It comes in two flavors: a version that supports NEON-enabled processors, and a non-NEON version.

Really, the fact that VLC hasn’t been developed for Android before now is kind of baffling. VLC has been ported to iOS before, but DRM issues with distributing on the App Store shut it down. While an App Store-esque way of distributing apps exists on Android, it’s also easy to distribute a DRM-free app over the internet that would work on Android (itself an open-source OS). That daily releases are only now available seems odd, unless the technical hurdles have been that much greater.

Now, these are daily releases, so they have some instability and general bugginess , but the player works well enough for video playback of standard definition video on my Samsung Captivate, though that had no problem working through the built-in video app. My question was rather simple: would this work for high-definition video playback from a downloaded internet video? On a Tegra 2 device, it ran into issues, though performance was improved when hardware decoding was enabled. As well, some audio synchronization issues appeared.

While this isn’t as useful as the desktop version quite yet, and has performance issues to work out (compared to something like MX Player), the fact is that this app does exist, and given the desktop’s capabilities, this app could be something truly great. Just not today. However, this hourly version is a great start down the road to video playback freedom on Android.