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STREAMING MEDIA PLAYER REVIEWS

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John Sciacca Posted: Jun 05, 2012 0 comments

Elite is Pioneer’s premier home audio line, much like Lexus is to Toyota. That means you can expect better build quality, a longer warranty, step-up features, and premium performance. New to Elite this year are two network audio players, the N-30 and N-50, that stream audio (including high-rez files up to 192-kHz/24-bit) from a computer, play Internet radio, and use Apple’s AirPlay for easy wireless networking with iOS devices. When it comes to basic features, the two are essentially the same. But there are several key performance differences between the players that make it easy to argue the case for the N-50’s $200 price premium.

Michael Berk Posted: Jul 20, 2011 0 comments

Always looking for new ways to make good on their promise to let users stream all the music on earth in any room, Sonos today announces a new player - the Play:3 - and a new naming scheme for their product line.

Leslie Shapiro Posted: Dec 29, 2011 0 comments

As entertainment options become more and more plentiful, so do the variety of ways to access and enjoy them. Even without cable, the possibilities seem practically endless. Could there be one box that takes all these options and makes it simple, easy and fun to access it all?

Al Griffin Posted: Mar 21, 2014 2 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $599

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Slick, speedy interface
3-TB hard disk for seemingly limitless recording
TiVo iOS app streams content in or away from home
Minus
Primitive Amazon Instant Video app

THE VERDICT
TiVo’s next-generation DVR makes TV watching a truly connected experience.

Last summer, after a nearly nine-year relationship, I showed my cable company–supplied DVR the door. Our life together had become increasingly untenable. My main gripe was that its limited-capacity hard drive put me in the constant position of having to delete old recordings to make room for new ones. It also had no connection options to link to a wired or wireless home network. These days, any component that can’t link to the Internet and communicate with computers, phones, and tablets is as good as junk. (We’ll give turntables a pass—for now.) Furthermore, my old DVR whirred and wheezed like the geezer it was, often emitting its loudest groans during music-listening sessions where I had no choice but to pull the plug.

Barb Gonzalez Posted: Feb 13, 2013 0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: Included with Toshiba HDTVs At a Glance: Netflix, Vudu, Cinema Now apps stream most available TV shows and movies • Complete Web browser

At first, it seemed like the Toshiba 47L7200U smart TV I sampled to check out its streaming options offered only the bare bones. When I opened the ePortal app home page, there were only the basic media streaming apps like Netflix and Vudu. Unlike Samsung or LG, Toshiba doesn’t have an app store. Also, it can only play a few basic digital file formats. But its Web browser goes beyond the basics.

Barb Gonzalez Posted: Oct 19, 2012 0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Price: $100 At A Glance: Bluetooth-enabled for pairing with remote control and headphones • Access live TV and streaming sources in one place • Global search includes live TV • Universal remote with touchpad mouse and QWERTY keyboard

Two years ago, the initial launch of Google TV on the Sony TV and Logitech Revue media streamers was a real disappointment. I was excited to try out the first of the new generation of Google TV devices, but found them plagued by a preponderance of blocked content and haphazard navigation. Vizio's Co-Star media streamer is among a couple of products (along with Sony’s NSG-GS7) now taking the lead as the Google TV platform inches closer to Google's goal of pulling together content from online, home media libraries, and live TV in a single device.

uavKim Wilson Posted: Mar 13, 2009 0 comments
Online video delivery is supposed to be the Next Big Thing, leaving physical media in the dust. Among the early content providers in this brave new world is Vudu, which offers one of the best options for renting movies on-demand that I have experienced. The Vudu BX100 plays Internet-delivered movies and TV shows at resolutions up to 1080p. Most similar to Apple TV with respect to features and price, the Vudu has some clear advantages.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Jun 02, 2008 0 comments
Fill it up with movies, not pins.

Regular readers of Home Theater might know that I also write the “Top 100 DVDs of All Time” article each year, which means that I have at least 8.3-dozen discs at home. And those discs tend to pile up. But how else is a cinephile supposed to build an impressive video library? Kaleidescape is too rich for my blood, DVD jukeboxes are too difficult to manage, and downloading movies to my computer isn’t really a living-room experience. So there’s the Apple TV, which recently began high-def movie rentals, not purchases, from major studios directly to the box. The Xbox 360 also allows paid download-to-own TV shows, some in high def, although all movies are rental only. And then there’s VUDU. The VUDU box is essentially a movie machine, a library on a hard disk drive inside a box. It’s an entertainment portal that sits quietly next to the TV until called into action.

Barb Gonzalez Posted: Jul 12, 2012 1 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $99 At A Glance: Great picture and sound quality • Wi-Fi-enabled • Clean, easy-to-use menus • Variety of streaming content services • Quirky difficulties with file indexing

The WD TV Live streaming media player has much in common with its predecessor, the WD TV Live Hub. When the WD TV Live Hub came out, I thought it was the best network media player and streamer on the market. It has a clean menu system; can play movies, music, and photos on my home network, and simply works.

Barb Gonzalez Posted: Oct 03, 2013 1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $70

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent sound and picture quality
Unit powers on whole home theater and switches inputs
Easy direct-access buttons on remote for Netflix, Hulu, Vudu
Minus
No Amazon VOD app
Poorly executed Facebook app

THE VERDICT
As long as it supports all the services you use, you’ll find the WD TV Play will deliver consistently high video and audio quality and a nice user experience at a very good price.

With all the media players available to me, a Western Digital player has always been my go-to streamer. I know the quality will be good and that I can connect it and be ready to go in minutes. The newest model, the WD TV Play, offers the quality and usability of its predecessors at a lower price. Although Western Digital chose the WD TV Play name to distinguish it from earlier models, little else has changed besides the home screen, and perhaps an increase in audio and video performance.

Michael Berk Posted: Oct 13, 2011 0 comments

Legrand - a leader in residential wiring and custom install components - in something of a surprise move announced the airQast wireless music system at this year's CEDIA Expo.

Barb Gonzalez Posted: Jul 30, 2012 1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $300-$400 At a Glance: Streams from online providers and networked home computers • Kinect voice and gesture command work well • Excellent video and audio quality

Unless you've been living in an isolated compound in Abadabad, Pakistan—and perhaps even if you have—you know that the Microsoft Xbox 360 is a top-ranked video-game console. However, you might not know that it's also a media streamer with access to oodles of online content. In fact, with all the streaming devices, TVs, and connected Blu-ray players I have in my house at any given time, my first go-to player is the Xbox 360. Not only does it have all my favorite streaming services, its Kinect voice and gesture control appeals to my tendency to be lazy.

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