If you want to add streaming internet to your TV (or switching altogether from cable or satellite) there are at least two units to consider. One is the AppleTV which is quite familiar to most while the other is Roku, a newer device which may be more suitable for many users. So we thought we'd take a moment to consider both.
Let's start first with WHY you might want to consider streaming TV. More and more, people no longer hurry to their TVs to catch their favorite program in real time. Instead, they will record the programming to view later at their convenience. VCRs and, later, DVRs made that possible and popular. Now however, with so many downloading their programming via streaming internet, the DVR may become less and less relevant.
Roku's head, Anthony Wood, forecasts, "Within four years I would say that the majority of TVs will stream over the Internet versus cable and satellite.... It is inevitable that all TV is going to be delivered over the Internet."
If that is true, then let's consider two such streaming devices currently making waves.
We'll start with AppleTV, an Editor's Choice from CNet.com. The Apple TV is a tiny streaming box for $99 that lets you stream all of the movies and TV shows available in the iTunes Store to your HDTV on a rental or purchase basis, with purchases stored in the cloud. Netflix, MLB.TV, Hulu Plus, and a handful of other online media services are available, plus music, videos, and photos can be streamed from iOS devices (iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch) using AirPlay. Those who've already invested in iTunes content and Apple hardware will find the Apple TV to be an indispensable living-room companion, and it's an excellent streaming-video box for non-Apple folks as well.
If you're NOT an Apple aficionado, however, you might want to consider the competition. That would be Roku LT priced at only $49 and is also an Editor's Choice from CNet.com for its second straight year. Roku LT is about the same size as an AppleTV and offers hundreds of streaming-video and -audio services, including Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, HBO Go, Vudu, Pandora, Mog, Rdio, and MLB.TV. Roku also offers cross-platform search, capable of finding content across major streaming services. And, quite notably, the LT also supports OLDER TVs via its analog video output. So if your works-just-fine-thankyou analog TV hasn't been replaced with a digital only version, you can still enjoy steaming Internet as well. At publication, Roku's HD version offers a $20 discount making it even less expensive than the LT!
We're not going to go tit for tat in comparing all their various features. The links imbedded earlier in this blog are to help you learn a bit more about each. And to help you with your purchasing selection here's CNet's comparison of the two.
These certainly aren't the only two streaming boxes on the market. But they do get high marks and help you establish what would ultimately be the features you most want.
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