We are living in a time when everything is connected and the content needs to be shared across devices. However, many of our gadgets are still not network enabled, or do not have a WiFi adapter included. I am talking about the last generations TV units, photo frames, receivers, DVD players, boom boxes, stereos, etc. Most of our readers have at least a computer that can share media, some even a dedicated server or NAS (network attached storage) units. How do we get that content to our gadgets that don’t support wireless sharing? HSTI, a Canadian technology company has a simple answer: Wireless Media Stick, a small USB device that connects to your wireless network, can access network shares and mount all the content available as a normal USB memory stick. We were provided with a sample and after extensive testing, our experience is summarized in this review. Read More…
This is probably the cheapest media streamer on the market to date – Roku just released a new member of the Roku 2 family, called Roku 2 LT. The miniature box features all the features of its big (and more expensive brothers) like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Video on Demand, Pandora, Facebook, Tweeter, Revision 3, HBO Go and hundreds of other installable channels but no gaming capabilities (sorry Angry Birds), no Bluetooth and no wired Ethernet, but it does include WiFi. The max resolution is capped at 720p, which is fine of you are limited by the TV anyway. The price? $49 which makes it really budget friendly and no excuse not to add it behind every TV in your house.
Beside the limited resolution, LT is remarkable through its purple case. As we mentioned, the software capability is similar with the rest of Roku 2 family and you can read a full review of Roku 2 XS right here.
Miramax signed a deal recently with Netflix to bring many of their movies to your instant queue and today they announced a second partner for streaming – Hulu. Many quality movies in the collection including Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Clerks, Sling Blade, The English Patient, Trainspotting, Good Will Hunting and Amelie are available on Hulu Plus starting today. Regular Hulu service which is free will not have the new package available.
What is really interesting and a radical departure from the standard Hulu Plus experience is that the new Miramax movies will stream ad-free (and HD). I wonder if this is a sign that Hulu is trying to be more competitive against Read More…
VUDU, a streaming company well knows for its rental services of new movies in very high quality (up to 1080p and Dolby Digital surround sound, if your Internet connection is up to par) is looking to conquer more territory and starts renting TV shows. This move puts it in direct competition with Amazon Video on Demand and Apple’s iTunes, so it will be interesting to know how it will work out.
The TV shows streaming deal covers episodes from ABC, HDNet, Starz, 20th Century Fox and FOX, Lionsgate and Showtime, Anchor Bay Entertainment and AMC and includes popular shows like Glee, Modern Family, Nurse Jackie, Weeds, Bones, Gossip Girl, The Walking Dead, etc. New episodes will be available one day after they air, similar with Hulu Plus offering. Unlike Hulu though ,with VUDU you will be able to buy the shows, including one season at a time Read More…
Until now, in my opinion, due to its limited capabilities in terms of media streaming, at least compared with other boxes like Boxee Box and WD TV Live Plus, Apple TV was interesting only because of its manufacturer. I was actually amazed it supports Netflix, considering Apple’s reluctance to support anything else other than iTunes.
Well, it seems like Apple is pumping some extra content providers in it and with its latest update, the little box got some love for NBA League Pass and MLB.TV along with AirPlay compatibility for the latest iOS 4.3 update and Netflix Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, a capability currently only implemented by Netflix.
The new content isn’t free and is in line with the provider’s current prices (we don’t know if they need to pay Apple 30% of the dough though). NBA Leagues Pass has one unlimited streaming option for $100 and another $65 option that includes your 7 favorite teams. MLB.TV has one $120 pass offering multi-zone broadcasts, multiple camera angles and DVR while the cheaper $100 subscription offers just standard streaming.
Beside the new content, Apple TV’s new update also gets various fixes, better on-screen keyboard, new slide-show modes and a bunch of security fixes.
Boxee Box is without question one of the most awaited media streamers for this year. The reason? The way things look right now, it might well be the only box that actually can successfully replace a home theater PC in both CODEC support and extensibility. Promising a full range of audio/video codecs, media library with automatic artwork downloading and also web clients for popular services as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pandora, VUDU and even Netflix, combined with an open development platform supporting Adobe Flash 10.1, a Webkit based browser and QWERTY remote control, many feel that boxee Box is currently the media streamer to beat, not Google TV or Apple TV. For a long time, there has been an uncertainty about the capability to stream Netflix but yesterday the people from D-Link confirmed Netflix support to come sometime by the end of the year, so I won’t touch this issue until the next firmware release.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge gadget lover and I actually own and use every piece of equipment that I reviewed on this website, however I don’t like the idea of turning my PS3 to watch Netflix, XBOX 360 for a nice Twitter of Facebook client, my HTPC for some exotic codec that nobody else supports, etc. I think everybody keeps waiting for the mystical “do it all” box (aside from a beefy HTPC that needs its own power plant) and the open nature of Boxee Box might help it become that box.
2. Boxee Box Unpacking Read More…
This ($99) is probably the lowest price I have ever seen on the very popular Western Digital WD TV Live Plus HD Media Player / Streamer (WDBABX0000NBK-NESN ). The Amazon cannot advertise directly such a low price so you’ll have to click and see the discounted price.
I got one myself (full review here) and it works extremely well. The interface could use some tweaks because is rather simple, but no other players beat WD TV Live Plus HD (a mouthful) in terms of video CODEC compatibility. It supports both DLNA client and PC network shares access, a complete codec support including MKV, DIVX, XVID, MPEG 2 and 4, DBD ISO images, it even supports DVD menus from ISO images and folder rips. Everything up to 1080p.
WD TV Live Plus HD also supports a variety of popular web clients including Netflix (the new interface with categories), Pandora, YouTube, Flickr, etc.
Video Codecs – AVI (Xvid, AVC, MPEG1/2/4), MPG/MPEG, VOB, MKV (h.264, x.264, AVC, MPEG1/2/4, VC-1), TS/TP/M2T (MPEG1/2/4, AVC, VC-1), MP4/MOV (MPEG4, h.264), M2TS, WMV9
Subtitles – SRT, ASS, SSA, SUB, SMI
Audio Codecs – MP3, WAV/PCM/LPCM, WMA, AAC, FLAC, MKA, AIF/AIFF, OGG, Dolby Digital, DTS Read More…
Launched for now in Europe, Acer Aspire RevoView is yet another media streamer box claiming to offer the best entertainment system for your TV. The unit features 1080p HD playback, dual USB slots and a 3.5″ SATA bay accepting up to 2TB hard drives, an Ethernet port for network streaming and HDMI 1.3a plus S/PDIF outputs and a memory reader is included as well.
CODEC-wise, RevoView plays the traditional set of popular codecs including MKV, DVD ISOs, MP4, h264, M2TS, VOB, XVID, RM, RMVB, multiple subtitles like SRT, SMI, SSA, IDX and SUB. The projected price is to be around $200 (£119.99) when it starts shipping on November 8.
The only issue is: RevoView just doesn’t bring anything new to the table and there are so many other media streamer boxes available for much lower prices – WD TV Live Plus comes into mind, as well as the soon to be launched Boxee Box, both offering additional web clients like Netflix, VUDU, Amazon Video on Demand, YouTube, Pandora, etc. It just doesn’t make sense to release media streamer without them, especially for almost $200 (not to mention the recently launched Google TV devices).
Check after the break for the image gallery, press release and full specs. Read More…
In a response to Apple TV announcement, Boxee’s Avner Ronen tried to make a case of why we need to send our money to him instead of Steve, and also let it slip that the box will ship in November for $200. Among the arguments, the strongest one seems to be the openness of the Boxee Box, presumably everybody will have access to the source code and be able to write applications. If this is true remains to be seen, but I was using Boxee (the software version) for quite a while and it is gorgeous, simple and usable. It has way more applications available than Apple TV and very important for some, it plays everything available on your home network. At least for me, having Pandora, Digg, Revision 3, Last.fm and MKV/DIVX support over the network more than makes up for the price difference. And let’s not forget the keyboard remote and 1080p support (Apple TV is limited at 720p)