Tech Preview: Zaggbox - The Digital Everything Device

Like others, I was highly interested in checking out the latest developments in 3D-TV at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, a topic I'll have much to say about over the coming months, but I also spent a good portion of time on the show floor seeking out new and interesting gadgets coming in 2010. One of the more unique devices I saw was called Zaggbox, a new product from Zagg that can only be described as a Swiss Army knife of digital goodness.

Yep, you heard that right - Zagg, the one and same that makes little plastic screen protectors for cell phones. As unlikely as it may seem, Zagg's first foray into consumer electronics is a big one, in both scope, and as it turns out, price.  

So what is Zaggbox?


Zagg bills it as a "Media Aggregator and Personal Media Server," though If I had to describe it, I'd say it's a DVR, Slingbox, Neuros OSD, video switch, and set-top streamer all slammed into one truly unique product. Sure, the concepts aren't original, but dare I say there's no single device on earth that can do everything the Zaggbox can.

To give an example of what this thing can do, you can plug in the component output from a Blu-Ray player, and (on the fly) capture and record the playback of a disc onto the internal 1TB hard drive. In that respect, it's a lot like the Neuros OSD, but only HD capable and to an internal hard drive. Then, once that content is on the hard drive, you can stream it over the Internet to a compatible mobile device. It would be more accurate to relate it to Orb than Slingbox, because unlike Slingbox, you can't plug in a cable box and stream something live. Everything must be recorded to the hard drive first (or so I was told).

To round out the feature set, Zagg also includes the ability to stream a wide variety of digital audio and video files from network shares, making it a competitor to a number of set-top network receivers. Oddly, there's no interconnectivity with online content providers. So if you're hoping to stream content from YouTube, Hulu, or anywhere else, this isn't the place to look right now.

In a way, Zaggbox acts as a new front end to your connected devices... meaning you control the Zaggbox, which then controls your devices. It's also worthwhile to point out that Zaggbox comes with two distinct forms of control. For starters, there's the integrated hard button "slider" remote control, but also an iPhone remote app to control it using the iPhone. Pretty slick. 

The interface seemed intuitive and easy to navigate, though could certainly use a bit more polish given its high price tag.

On the backside, you'll find input connections for 4 different devices, 3 using HD component video with digital audio, and 1 analog. No HDMI in obviously, HDCP would prohibit recording from HDMI.  On the output side, you have composite, component and HDMI, along with digital audio connections.  There's also 1 composite/S-video input on the front, a flash card reader, and additional USB input.

Since the show, Zaggbox has announced they are accepting pre-orders, albeit at a "sticker shock" price of $799. I really hope that's a "worst case scenario" price... meaning what they'll charge if they can't manage to attract many initial buyers. Even given its unique abilities, $799 seems too expensive for a set-top box not made of solid gold in this market, so assuming they can get enough orders, I'd expect to see it actually launch at a lower price. Here's hoping anyway.

Whatever the case, I'll be watching Zaggbox with great interest.


Hard Disk
    100 Base-T
    802.11b/g/n; Ad-Hoc Open with WEP or Infrastructure Open with WEP, WPA-PSK with TKIP or AES
    SMB (Microsoft Windows share) or UPnP
Audio ADC
    MP3, AAC, M4A
Video Decoder
    MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG4.2, WMV9, VC-1, MPEG4.10(H.264)/AVC, DivX®, Xvid
HD Encoder
    10X compression for HD .mov files; 50X-100X compression for iPhone platform
    3 component, 2 composite video/S-Video, 5 USB 2.0, 8-1 Multi ready (SD, Xd, MMC) SD card reader



What I hope is that in being able to do lots of things, that it does all of them well, rather than getting "watered down." I love the video switching functionality and how it's rolled into the other features; it would feel right at home in my setup - too bad I don't have a spare $800 clams...

This thing is incredible, it's like an overall gadget to me, it supports blu-ray and i hope it supports all type of video file extensions.

EHR Software Developer

I am impressed of your specifications. Very detailed and very reliable. I have to consider this product for my materials.


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