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Samsung HomeSync is a media streamer with a huge hard drive (video hands-on)

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Gallery Photo: Samsung HomeSync hands-on
Gallery Photo: Samsung HomeSync hands-on

Is it a Google TV? Yes and no: Samsung's new HomeSync media streamer runs Android 4.2 and has access to the Google Play store, but you won't find a Google logo anywhere on the box — nor will you find a single mention of the actual "Google TV" brand anywhere in Samsung's literature. The company might just be trying to distance itself from a brand that hasn't really produced any blockbuster hits.

If you want a Google TV with a 1TB hard drive, this is a slam dunk

But make no mistake, the HomeSync feels like an Android device through and through. Playing with it on the MWC show floor today, I used a Galaxy Note II to control the box in one of two modes. In the first, the phone's screen acts as a touchpad (not unlike Apple's Remote app for Apple TV) that maps to a mouse pointer on the television screen. In the second, the phone itself acts as a pointing device — you just point it at the screen and tap to make selections. As far as I can tell, it operated using the accelerometers in the phone alone, and it worked surprisingly well... I could actually select icons accurately and with minimal fuss. Of course, the question remains why you have to precisely select icons clearly designed for a touchscreen device in the palm of your hand using a mouse pointer on your 50-inch TV. Why isn't there a custom interface that works better?

Apart from running Android apps, HomeSync can mirror your phone's display, acts as an AllShare client for viewing photos and movies on your devices, and has its own 1TB of storage — though between phones, the cloud, and fast landline internet connections, it's unclear how useful a full terabyte of local disk space really is these days.

Is it worth a look? Insomuch that a Google TV (in everything but name) with a huge hard drive and a trick Android-powered mouse pointer is worth a look, yes — but considering that you can already toss content from your Samsung phone to any DLNA-enabled TV, the magic is diminished just a bit.