iPhone 4 App of the Week – ZumoCast

By on October 3, 2010
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The ultimate media streaming app for your iPhone & iPad. Dreams DO come true!

You ever dreamed of having the ability to stream ALL of your movies, music, pictures and documents stored on your PC or MAC onto your iPhone or iPad? But of course you have. However, you thought there would be issues with converting your videos to an iOS compatible format and that’s going to take ages and then it will get streamed and the picture or audio quality probably isn’t up to par, so you never really bothered.

Now it’s time to believe. ZumoCast is your one stop app for all your streaming needs. Here’s how it works: you install the app on your iPhone or iPad and then the client (from zumocast.com) onto your PC or MAC. Install the client on your PC/MAC, create an account and select specific folders or entire hard drives that you want to share. Start the ZumoCast app on your iPhone/iPad, log in to your account and all of your shared folders and everything in it will be available for your viewing and listening pleasure. Select the file you want, and you’re good to go.

So before any of you skeptics write this one off as just another gimmick, let me finish. ZumoCast essentially turns your computer into a cloud computing machine. Everything that’s stored on your computer (which you have allowed access to be shared to) will be available on your iPhone. You can stream all of your movies (in pretty much any format, even .mkv) and your music and pictures of all shapes and sizes as well as MS Office docs and .txt files onto your iPhone from your computer directly. What happens is that ZumoCast automatically converts the files in an iOS compatible format on the fly while it’s being streamed onto your iPhone.  Contrary to what you may think, this process takes mere seconds.

The conversion basically means that your iPhone isn’t doing all the legwork of running extremely high bitrate content, so battery isn’t going to be drained dead within minutes. That said, streaming a movie in particular, whether over Wi-Fi or 3G, will still consume a lot of battery, much like watching videos continuously on YouTube. One of the main downsides of this is that the conversion bitrate is completely automatic, so you may end up with a video quality not quite up to your standards in some cases, regardless of whether the source file is a normal Standard Definition file of full on 1080p recording. Also, any subtitles in .mkv file formats will not show up unless they’re hardcoded onto the video itself.

Another thing to keep in mind is that ZumoCast uses your computer for cloud storage, i.e. I can access the 2.5TB of storage I have on my home PC anywhere with a Wi-Fi or 3G connection, which also means that my PC needs to be turned on all the time. This is not a problem for me as my home machine runs 24/7, but for many, this could be a potential issue. Perhaps in a later update one can turn on the computer from a Sleep state, but for the time being, your computer just needs to be running for you to access the files stored on it.

Streaming files is not an issue if your connection is fast enough. So my personal experience of streaming videos and music over my home Wi-Fi and the Tbreak office Wi-Fi as well as 3G has been almost flawless. Over both 3G and Wi-Fi, the program takes about 5 to 8 seconds to start streaming your movie or song, with maybe another pause after a minute, again for a couple of seconds. But after those initial pause(s), it’s smooth sailing from there on.

Browsing your library is also as simple as checking it out on a computer. Files can either be browsed via 3 categories (Files, Music & Videos) or just folder by folder. While browsing files through the categories, ZumoCast will just take a small snap of a video file (again, doesn’t matter what format it’s in) and present it along with the file name and size.

ZumoCast also has the option to download any file type directly onto your iPhone. Obviously movie files will be converted before being transferred. These files, however, can only be seen within ZumoCast itself, i.e. any songs or videos you download will not show up on the iPod app.

Yes, there are other apps that have attempted to do the same in the past, but none that do the transcoding so quickly, none that buffers your audio and video files as smoothly and definitely none that are as reasonably priced as ZumoCast. It’s free. Trust me, there’s nothing better than walking in the mall or just cruising down the highway with your entire media library at your fingertips being streamed from your home computer straight to your iPhone 4. The future is now!

You can check out ZumoCast on iTunes and the official homepage.


About

From auditing to editing, I now test and analyze the latest gadgets and games instead of the latest financial statements. Both jobs are equally intense and rewarding. When I'm not burning up hardware in the name of science, you'll find me nuking in DOTA 2 or engineering in TF2.

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