Despite being showcased at a number of trade events earlier in the year, detailed information on Samsung’s new Personal Cloud device – HomeSync – is thin on the ground, particularly with regard to price and availability. However, a recent blog post on the company’s Developer site and video posted on YouTube reveals more about the device and its capabilities.
We know that the device offers 1TB of internal storage, and connects via HDMI to your big screen TV, with a low profile metal chassis designed to fit and look good in your TV cabinet. A front facing LED provide status updates with four colour-coded conditions – Blue for normal operation, Green for an event in progress, Yellow as a warning that your HomeSync is not connected to the network and Red denoting a problem.
On the right hand side of the device you’ll find a Power and Function button – the latter is designed to connect the HomeSync to smartphones and other devices which do not have NFC (Near Field Communication) capability. Those that do have NFC can connect to HomeSync instantly via an NFC tag positioned on the top of the device.
The first time you tag your smartphone, you’ll automatically be taken to the Google Play Store to download the HomeSync smartphone app.
The rear of the device has seven ports – Power, MicroUSB, HDMI, twin USB 3.0, S/PDIF (Optical Audio) and Ethernet. The USB ports can be used to connect a mouse for controlling the HomeSync if desired.
HomeSync runs on Google’s Android 4.2 ”Jelly Bean” operating system and those of you who have used another Samsung Android device – smartphone or tablet, will find the user interface familiar, with a Gallery app for photo viewing, Video Player, Internet Browser, YouTub app, Google’s Play Store as well as Samsung’s own App Store.
Once installed, the HomeSync smartphone app allows you to connect to the device and view the Photos, Documents, Music and Video stored on the HomeSync – at home as well as remotely. Samsung have to to share whether the HomeSync can automatically configure the necessary ports on your router to open up remote access – I’d assume it’ll have a go, but manual configuration may be needed.
As with other Samsung Link-enabled devices, content can be viewed on the TV via a Smartphone command – however, this can be done directly from the HomeSync app.
Just three default folders are enabled on the HomeSync – Shared, Personal and a Private, password-protected folder. Photo, Documents and Video sub-folders are also enabled by default.
The Smartphone can also be used to control the HomeSync via a number of touch and gesture-based controls, called Mirror Mouse, Remote Mouse, Touchpad and QWERTY Keyboard. Mirror Mouse, which mirrors the HomeSync display on the smartphone, is only available on the Samsung Galaxy S4 at launch, with more devices to follow. Remote Mouse turns your Smartphone into a moveable mouse pointer – as you move the phone around, the HomeSync’s on screen mouse moves with it – much like LG’s Magic Remote. Touchpad controls on the Smartphone app allow you to zoom and and out of photos via pinch, as well as control the onscreen mouse with your finger – much like a laptop control pad.
Remote Mouse: Senses the movement of a device through its geomagnetic sensor and accelerometer sensor, and controls the cursor on the screen. (Phone-type devices supported)
Touch Pad: A control method similar to the touch pad of a laptop. Touch the screen of a device to control the cursor on the screen. (Phone and tablet-type devices supported)
Mirror Mouse: Controls by mirroring the TV screen on the device. (Planned to be supported in the Galaxy S III, Galaxy Note II, Galaxy S IV, and later models)
QWERTY Mode: Lets you enter text on the TV screen with a QWERTY keyboard that automatically appears on the device control screen.
An auto-upload setting on your Smartphone allows photos and videos to be automatically uploaded from remote locations to your HomeSync over Wi-Fi or mobile connections, allowing you to easily backup and view your content on the TV. If you prefer to do this manually, you can upload a wider range of file formats to the HomeSync. Likewise, content can be downloaded from the HomeSync to the smartphone using the app.