I’ll tell you why most people don’t throw parties — it’s because they don’t want to have to play the host and run around making sure everybody is having a good time, which means they themselves rarely do. So it might have seemed that I’d be stuck moving around the crowd playing the music on my iPhone or iPad and — if I wanted to run any videos — I’d be forced to have to hold it while people crowded around or, more likely got bored real fast. That would have been the case if I was using some media server other than IOGEAR’s MediaShair Hub, but one of its strengths is that it can stream content to up to 7 devices at once — and yeah that doesn’t mean just iOS but Android fans as well.
The MediaShair app lets you view videos and photos and listen to music, so it’s not outrageous that it has a standard-type player built-in, along with search functionality and support for file lists and thumbnail icons of what is to be viewed. The formats accepted and approved for iOS also allows for text and document files to be viewed as well. But it also can do things that other video player apps can’t: you can delete files from storage on MediaShair directly and copy files from MediaShair to the app. This opens up not having to be concerned with storage space on the smartphone, as well as transferring content you have to MediaShair so that it can be shared with others directly.
I was planning to have a few friends over to barbecue during the weekend and was mulling over what to do about the music and if I wanted to play any videos. — the grilling/patio area of the building I am now in doesn’t let you bring a TV or audio system with you and besides there’s no AC outlets. So I had to get creative and that’s where the MediaShare Hub came in. I pre-loaded an SD card with music, video and photos that I wanted to share and charged up the MediaShair so that it had plenty of juice for running the WiFi network it creates (no need for a home network/router and besides it wouldn’t be portable then). And while I had no need of it, had I wanted to use it as an access point for my home network, I could have done it.
I placed the MediaShair out of the way on a table where it wouldn’t be disturbed and pressed the “On” tab for 5 seconds. I then brought up the app on my iPhone, selected wireless access, chose the Hub’s name to be my network and inputted the password provided in the manual (for those who never read instructions, it was 12345678). I also called to make sure 4 of my more tech-savvy friends had loaded in the app before they came, and reminded each once they arrived to pair with the MediaShair’s network. I then told them all to select the same song (Springstein’s Rosalita) and start it playing. Voila — instant surround speakers, or to be more accurate, 5 different speakers each blaring out audio not from any fixed points, but instead moving across the grilling/patio area. It made the ambiance a lot more unique and yeah it was cool to do, especially since we weren’t perfectly synced. But as big fans of Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa, that was ok.
Later I wanted to show a video stored on the MediaShair that I had taken using the Looxcie LX2 wearable video cam. I had no trouble pulling it up on my iPhone while others were still playing music. The video ran fine — no glitching or interruptions — which showed that the MediaShair could handle the strain of streaming different types of content (music and video) to more than one device at a time. IOGEAR says it can handle up to 7 devices, but I didn’t want to push my luck, especially as the battery looked to be used up more quickly (I used a USB charging hub to give it a boost about halfway through the night just to be safe).
Bottom line: The IOGEAR MediaShair Hub works effectively as a media server; one that provides its own wireless network so that there’s true portability. It sets up easy, works easy and best of all, can handle streaming to multiple devices simultaneously. $99 buys you all this and even a cigarette lighter charger for juicing up while on-the-go.
USB inputs can be used to charge devices, LED indicators for charging and functions, Works with web browsers, Functions as SD card reader
Can only play iOS approved audio/video formats (if using iPhone/iPad)
Marshal Rosenthal is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and journalist specializing in technology, consumer electronics and pop culture.