STREAMING MEDIA PLAYER REVIEWS

Sort By: Post Date | Title | Publish Date
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.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 12, 2013 0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price $699

At A Glance
Plus: USB DAC built in • AirPlay, optional Bluetooth
Minus: Small font on display • No headphone output

The Verdict
This is a great-sounding way to add network audio features, especially the crucial USB DAC, to an existing system.

Have you watched in dismay as new features have left your old surround receiver or stereo preamp in the dust? Would you like to hang on to your old buddy but give it a new coat of paint? The Pioneer Elite N-50 bids to do just that, bringing a USB DAC, optional wireless connectivity, and other computer audio-related features into a rack-size component. It brings your existing equipment up to date for the second decade of the 21st century.

Barb Gonzalez Posted: Jul 31, 2013 1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $70 At a Glance: Mirrors or extends PC desktop using WiDi • USB connection and micro SD card slot • DLNA certified for streaming of home media libraries • Flingo App adds dozens of niche video channels

“What’s the best way to connect my PC to my TV?” is a question I am frequently asked. While many TVs have PC connections and many laptops have HDMI outputs, there’s still the issue of controlling the computer while sitting on the couch. The NTV-300SL (aka the NeoTV 300 Max) is a great, relatively inexpensive solution that lets you keep your laptop in your lap.

Barb Gonzalez Posted: May 02, 2013 0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Price: $40 (wireless pocket keyboard additional $40) At a Glance: Android operating system • HDMI Stick connects directly to TV • Potentially unlimited content • Best keyboard/mouse remote available for any media player

Favi’s SmartStick is not, as many call it, a Google TV. Instead, it is a dongle (stick) that connects to an HDMI input on your TV and runs the Android operating system. Typically, smartphones and tablets have Android, but this is the first streaming Android dongle for your TV. And herein lies the problem. While most Android apps made for tablets can be downloaded to the SmartStick, they are not designed for a TV streaming device, and they don’t work when you try to use them.

Barb Gonzalez Posted: Mar 22, 2013 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Price: $100 At a Glance: Small stick connects directly to HDMI input on TV • Same menus and channels as full-sized Roku Box • No additional power connection; requires MHL-enabled TV

That Roku box is shrinking…again. The Roku Stick looks like a thumb drive and is only about 3 inches long. For the most part, it provides the same experience as the standard Roku boxes—same menus, same performance. But to use one, you’ll need an MHL-enabled TV or other device.

Barb Gonzalez Posted: Mar 08, 2013 1 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $300 At a Glance: Stream 1080p live TV and recordings from your DVR • Complete control of your set-top box from any device • Displays photos and videos from smartphone on TV

While cable and satellite companies often tout their ability to let you start watching a recording in one room and finish it in another, you can forgo the cost of these multiroom systems with a Slingbox. The original TV place-shifter, Slingbox allows you to access your cable or satellite set-top box and all of its content from mobile devices, media players, and computers— from across the house or across the country—by using the SlingPlayer app. Hoping to save some money in box rentals, I was happy to test Sling Media’s first new consumer model in four years, the Slingbox 500 HD. There are a number of ways to watch TV on computers and mobile devices, but Slingbox is unique in providing remote access and control of your set-top box.

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: Dec 31, 2012 1 comments
Barb Gonzalez uses and abuses the Smart Hub streaming platform Samsung builds into many of its TVs and Blu-ray players. Just how smart is this hub and is it all that it's cracked up to be?
Barb Gonzalez Posted: Oct 26, 2012 1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $200 At A Glance: Bluetooth and IR universal remote control • Lighted extended keyboard • Access live TV and streaming sources in one place • Global search includes live TV

When I decided to review two Google TV media streamers back to back, I thought there would be little difference between them. After all, Google TVs run on an Android platform, and both the Sony Internet Player with Google TV and Vizio’s Co-Star would have most of the same apps— pre-loaded apps or those available through the Google Play Android Market. I was surprised to find that there was more difference than I had expected. Sony knows home theater, and as with its other media streaming devices, low-quality video appears nicely cleaned up for viewing on a big screen. I’ve been unable to get a straight answer from Sony on what’s under the hood that improves the picture. Still, picture quality of identical content is noticeably better with the NSZ-GS7 than its competition.

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.

Barb Gonzalez Posted: Aug 30, 2012 1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $180 At A Glance: Includes Web browser • Connect to Slingbox via the Slingbox app • Direct access to movies from the Web, Vudu, or your own digital collection

The Boxee Box is unlike any other media streamer or media player. From its cockeyed box shape that’s missing a corner and its froglike logo, to its menu organization and social video-sharing features, it’s easy to see that Boxee stands out.

Barb Gonzalez Posted: Jul 30, 2012 2 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.

Barb Gonzalez Posted: Jul 12, 2012 2 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.

Kim Wilson Posted: May 09, 2012 3 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $50 At a Glance: Streams a wide variety of content from various paid and free services • Easy setup • Built-in Wi-Fi • Small, compact form factor • Control device with free iPhone or Android app

With so many TVs and BD players offering streaming services these days, I didn’t think there would be a lot of demand for standalone units; yet, they keep coming, presumably for those still watching older equipment without this feature. When evaluating these units, the most important aspects are the services and channels provided, along with the user interface. The actual streaming quality is dependent on your Internet connection (which Netgear suggests should be no less than 3-4 Mbps for 720p, though I’d say 6 Mbps is safe for 1080p).

Barb Gonzalez Posted: Dec 16, 2011 9 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $99 At A Glance: Vastly improved picture quality • More responsive, motion-sensitive, Bluetooth remote • Tiny footprint • Wide variety of content providers

Roku has released its newest generation of media streamers, including the top-of-the-line Roku 2 XS player. Perhaps you haven't given Roku much thought as a serious addition to your home theater. Its earlier models gave more attention to the quantity of media-streaming partners than to the quality of the pictures they were streaming. The Roku 2 XS may change your mind as it changed mine.

Pages

X
Enter your Sound & Vision username.
Enter the password that accompanies your username.
Loading