At least to some extent, syncing is on its way out, and ZumoCast, which enters private beta today, offers an attractive alternative: turning your computer into a personal cloud and streaming video to iPads and iPhones instead of syncing it.
This isn't a new idea by any means. Apps like AirVideo and StreamToMe have shown that a good deal of the time, streaming video from another machine—dynamically transcoding file formats that iPad would normally stick its nose up at—saves time and effort.
Those apps, which have had the benefit of multiple revisions, are still the best bet for streaming video from your computer to your iDevice—compared to ZumoCast, their streaming video experience is more fluid and of higher quality.
But ZumoCast, which will remain free throughout the several month beta period, isn't just a server/client affair, and its idea of itself as something greater—a more holistic personal cloud—engenders some features that will really make it a killer app down the line.
For one, ZumoCast has a nice web-based interface, for watching your videos when you're not on your home network (ZumoCast's focused on the video experience at release, but will eventually add support for audio, documents, photos and the rest).
Another excellent planned feature is offline access, which would allow you to snag a file locally to your device from inside the app. Presumably the necessary conversion would happen quietly and as quickly as possible, and you'd end up with your video or audio content, cached and ready for your flight or car ride.
Though still in its early stages, ZumoCast has a lot of promise, reigning in that cloud magic for your own personal collection. If you want to get involved in the ZumoCast private beta, you can sign up over at [ZumoCast]