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Hands-on with the Hava Gold HD

Monsoon Multimedia shows off its entry-level Slingbox competitor, the Hava Gold HD.

CNET Networks

It's been a year since we were first introduced to Monsoon Multimedia's Hava device, a placeshifting product that delivered a handful of features--Wi-Fi connectivity, multicast functionality, and Windows Media Center integration--not found on the category-leading Slingbox. Hava went on to release its flagship product in late 2006, and the company has since licensed the technology to Pinnacle, which sells a Hava clone called PCTV To Go.

Streaming Hava content to the 360 CNET Networks

At CES 2006, Hava was showing off a new entry-level product called the Hava Gold HD. It's housed in a different enclosure than the Hava Wireless HD, and it loses that device's Wi-Fi connectivity and built-in TV tuner, but it retains the same core functionality. The Hava Gold HD will retail for $129--about $20 less than the street price of its main rival, the Slingbox A/V.

Monsoon also disclosed that an upgrade of the PC viewing software that's expected to post later this week will add some custom remote skins (Comcast, Dish, DirecTV, Scientific Atlanta, and TiVo), which should help address a usability shortfall we found when reviewing the earlier product. Company reps also demonstrated the Xbox 360 working as a Media Center Extender for a PC streaming content from a Hava box.

Remote skins improve the user interface CNET Networks

While the capabilities of the Hava family of products remain impressive, the company will still need to continue improving the software and extending the number of compatible platforms in order to gain traction against rival Sling Media. Monsoon has pledged that a Windows Mobile Hava viewer will be ready "within weeks." That would be a nice addition, but it still leaves it lagging behind Sling's continually expanding list of compatible devices, including Macs, Windows Smart phones, Symbian smart phones, and--later in 2007--some Palm devices as well as the companion SlingCatcher box.