bCODA Multishare USB Jak

Print

Product: bCODA MultiShare USB Jak
Provided By: bCODA
Price: ~$49.99 Online at time of Publication

Introduction:

Today are taking a look at a product from a new company to us here at BCCHardware.  We've got the MultiShare USB Jak on our bench and are giving this little dongle the twice over.  The Jak plugs into the USB port on your TV, Stereo or PC and then allows you to stream music, movies and images from your device to whatever source the Jak is plugged into.  This sounds like a good idea and it helps make any Android phone or tablet integrate into your multimedia experience very easily.

Today we are going to take this product for a spin and find out if it works as well as bCODA claims and what you can expect from the user experience.  Before we get too involved with the Jak, let's take a quick look at bCODA and what they are about.

Package of Jak

About bCODA:

bCODA embodies our passionate drive toward creating new demand and value through innovative products.
It also serves as a constant reminder for us to look back on our humble beginnings. Embedded in the name is our commitment to accepting no complacency and mediocrity in any way, shape, or form.

When we first set out to produce wireless accessory devices for mobile phones, our primary focus was placed on creating consumer value through innovative products, simple in user interface and experience, yet powerful in performance. As our product lineup diversified, however, we found ourselves fixated on adding more functionality and complexity to the existing products. It could not be further away from our true spirit. It was about time we looked back on ourselves and returned to our original initiative of creating new demand and value through innovation. We have thus launched our new brand, bCODA, and it is the epitome of staying true to our commitment.

At Enustech, innovation is in our DNA. With bCODA’s spirit as a beacon, we will not hesitate to go back to basics and spur innovation. It is our pledge to the consumers that bCODA’s products will be of the highest quality in consumer value, bar none.

Jak in the Box

First Look:

The Jak comes is a nice and tidy package that houses the Jak itself as well as a quick install guide and brief user manual.  The truth is, once you install the App for the Jak, it's pretty straightforward.  The Jak itself is about the same size as many USB Flash drives on the market today and the casing is made entirely of plastic.

Jak Front
Jak Front

Jak Back
Jak Back

 

The Jak itself seems to be sturdy enough, but I don't think it will stand up to thousands of installs in different TVs.  Once you have it plugged into your favorite TV, stereo or PC - you'll probably leave it there most of the time.  That's what we did and we almost shipped it out when we returned a TV to the manufacturer.  Thankfully, we remembered it was stuck in the back and pulled it out so we could continue with this review.

Other than the all-plastic USB end of the Jak, the other thing worth noting is a LED at the opposite end that lights up to indicate power and flashes during file transfers.  This LED could get annoying if the Jak was plugged into the front of a device and used in a dark room, but when it is plugged in behind our TV, it goes unnoticed for the most part.

That's really all there is to the Jak, so before we share our experiences, we'll cover some of the features and specifications on the next page before we try it out.

 


Overview:

As we take a look at what the Jak promises and what it does, we will copy and paste information from the product page for your convenience.  As always, make sure to check out the manufacturer's site for all the updated information.  Below is just a brief overview to get you started.

 

Universal
Plug Jak into any USB-ready device, including HDTVs, PCs, projectors and more to stream content.
 
Plug and Play
Jak is easy-to-use. Download the Jak app for your Android phone, then use Jak through any USB-ready audio or video product.
 
Share
Connect to as many as 20 other smartphone devices for continuous streaming with no loss in quality.
 
Get More
Share content from your smartphone wirelessly.

Features:

 

Audio
  1. Unprecedented Connectivity
    As many as 20 smartphones can be linked with a single Jak simultaneously. Activate any one of them to play its content, and the rest of them are automatically put on a standby mode.
  2. Effortless Transition
    Switching between different smartphones that are linked to a single Jak is quick and easy. Simply activate the one you want to play.
  3. Unaltered Sound Quality
    Unlike the usual loss of sound quality you experience with a Bluetooth device, your content’s original sound quality is never compromised with Jak.
 
TV
Bigger, Smarter Viewing Experience
Simply plug Jak into a TV, and you can enjoy your smartphone content in Full HD (1080p). Hassle free and no setup required.
 
Security
  1. Privacy Guaranteed
    You have complete control over which content to select and play from your smartphone via Jak.
  2. Confidentiality Protected
    Jak never stores your smartphone content at any time. Even if you lose a Jak, you can be reassured your smartphone content is safe.
 
Mobility
You never have to carry around a USB drive or a laptop computer to access your content. With Jak, all you need is your smartphone. You can also use a cloud service such as Dropbox right from your smartphone and share your content via Jak.

Specification:

Specs

With all of that out of the way, let's take a look at the Jak in action on the next page.

 


Testing the Jak - Application:

As we get into the meat of the review we take a look at the application that you have to go and grab from the Google Play store.  This App worked great on both the Nexus 7 and Galaxy Nexus and I had no issues configuring it for streaming or creating custom playlists.  The Jak App allows you to connect your device to the Jak directly and also allows you to connect through your standard network.  Connecting through your network will enable you to use your device to access other network resources - including the internet, Dropbox and more.

Start Jak
Start Jak

Playlists
Playlists

Basic Info
Basic Info

I am quite pleased that bCODA seems dedicated to providing update for this device as I've done a couple of firmware updates to the device while we've been reviewing it.  This is a nice change as many other products that offer firmware updates aren't updated regularly.

Firmware Update
Firmware Update

Settings
Settings

The App experience is very smooth and simple.  Playlists can be created very easily and it just plain works.  I've nothing bad to say about the App at all.

In order to stream media to the Jak (and whatever it's plugged in to), you simply hit "Transmit" on the Playlists page.  That will stream everything in that playlist.  If you only want to allow some of the images, movies or music to appear on the media player, you'll need to create a different playlist and stream that.  Browse the files you want to add to the playlist by touching the "Latest music", "Latest photo" or "Latest video" links.  This will open a file browser where you can select items and add them to your new playlist.

Testing the Jak - TV:

On the TV, the Jak performs a little different that I had expected.  I guess what I expected with the Jak was the ability to use your Android device to control the content and to interact like a WiFi remote control.  What actually happens is that they you choose to stream content - whether it is music, movies, or images - you will then have to specify on the TV what content you want to stream.  At this point, the Jak shows up to the TV as a USB storage device - with your playlist on it.  

You're playlist is not actually transferred to the device - instead the index is available wirelessly and all of the content will be streamed on demand.  To do this, you'll have to use the remote for your TV (or other media device) and navigate to the file you want to play and then select it.  This works the same way for images, music and movies.

Images
Images

When streaming music or movies, the entire list shows up and it takes a couple of seconds to buffer the content before it starts to play.  When streaming movies, I had no issues streaming 720p content from my device without any lag or buffering issues.  The wireless signal was quite low to the Jak and if you have a USB extension cable to move the Jak from behind a metal TV to somewhere with less interference, I'm sure it would help.  We did have some buffering issues with 1080p content when streaming from my couch, but when the device was placed beside the TV - with better line of sight to the Jak, it worked flawlessly.

Movie
Movie Playback

Music
Music

To switch from media type to another - say from movies to music, you simply choose to stream a different playlist on your Android device.  At this point the Jak disconnects from the TV and you'll have to again select it from the list of inputs and choose the media type that you now want to play.

I can't help but think that this process could be a little more seamless, but I'm sure some of this limitation is due to the way TVs (at least those we tested) sort and play back media from USB devices.  I won't dock the Jak too much for this, but it would help create a better user experience if switching media types was a lot more seamless.

The Jak uses it's own wireless network to connect to the Android device and this way music isn't compressed and the sound quality is very good.  Overall, the experience is pretty decent with the Jak.

 


 

Final Thoughts:

I'd never heard much about bCODA before this review and I've got to say I'm a little impressed with the company.  If what they say is true - that they want to make powerful products that are super simple to use, they stand to become very popular down the road.  The Jak is the first product we've seen from them and while the experience isn't flawless, it's not that bad either.  Image and music playback is very good.

Movie playback is where things started to drop off a bit.  While 720p movies played back fine with the Jak plugged into the default location on any TV - the back, 1080p content would buffer quite frequently as the signal to the Jak was hampered by a steel and glass TV that has a lot of electrical interference pulsing through the wires.  When I moved my Android device closer it worked fine, but this is not what the Jak is designed to do.

In the end though, the Jak is not a bad product that I'm willing to recommend for almost anyone to try out.  The beauty of it is the price.  It sells for $50 online currently and a week or so ago, I saw it listed for ~$30 at one site on a promotion.  At that price, you really can't go wrong.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Plug and Play with Android
  • Create custom playlists
  • Streams music, movies and images
  • Frequent updates

 

Cons:

  • Switching media types isn't seamless
  • Wireless signal hampered by TVs
  • All plastic design may not stand up over time

While the Jak doesn't score absolute top marks because of a couple of issues that we felt impacted the overall experience of the device, it still scores pretty solid and is a recommended "Silver" product here at BCCHardware.com

BCCRating

Silver

 

I'd like to thank bCODA for sending over the Jak for us to review.  If you have any questions, comments or general feedback, please post it in the forum at the link below.