Back in August I posted a number of details about DirecTV’s then forthcoming Nomad place shifting product, and it is finally here for $149. It turns out that most of the info I had at the time was correct and, unfortunately, the rumors were generally confirmed. The Nomad is a copy-based device, similar to how TiVoToGo works, and not a streaming system like a Slingbox. So there is no real-time access to your content. You need to load everything onto your mobile device before you leave home. Which is admittedly useful for something like a plane where streaming generally isn’t an option, but if you’re away for an extended time you’ll probably still want a Slingbox to keep up with your shows from the road.
And speaking of mobile devices, right now your options are very limited. You can use a Windows PC, an iPhone 3GS or better, or an iPod Touch. That’s it. The Mac, iPad, and Android devices are all listed as ‘Coming Soon’. Though you can run the iPhone app on the iPad for now. As I previously reported, the Nomad communicates with DirecTV DVRs via Ethernet. Using DirecTV’s existing multi-room system, shows are streamed from the DVR to the Nomad. There they are transcoded to H.264 and saved for syncing with your device. One thing to note, Nomad is a ‘one size fits all’ system. Unlike TiVoToGo, which will transcode to different resolutions and bitrates for different devices, or Slingbox which can stream in anything from 320×240 up to 1920×1080 depending on the device and bandwidth, Nomad has one setting. It transcodes to 720×480 (which is DVD resolution). The bit rate varies, but seems to be around 1.5Mbps.
Up to five mobile devices are supported per account. You can set it up to auto-convert series, etc. Again, it seems to work very much like TiVoToGo, only in a dedicated HW box instead of software on a PC. Transfers from the DVR to the Nomad happen in real time. So a two hour movie takes two hours to stream and transcode. Fortunately, once transcoded and stored, copying to a device happens much faster, with about an hour of content transferred in ten minutes according to reports.
Oh, one thing to note, the player app will not work on any jail broken iOS devices.