Streaming TV programs, movies and other video has become a common practice in the last few years. The primary reason for increasing popularity of streaming media players has been additional features provided by most manufacturers of consumer-electronics equipment including Blu-Ray players, video game consoles, TVs, digital video recorders, digital media players and many more. Due to new features, it has become easier to watch internet video. However, choosing from a lot of different options can be a bit overwhelming. In this article, we will give you some basic information and tips that might help you choose a good streaming device.
Types of Streaming Media Players
Every streaming media player is different from another. While some good media players fit your personal needs, others may disappoint. In order to determine a good streaming device for your needs, you will have to get familiar with different types of streaming media players. Here is a basic overview of different streaming media players :
Streaming Media Consoles
First of all, there are basic streaming media consoles. The basic function of these media players is to stream media. They don’t have other important features or functions. However, if you are happy with your current home entertainment setup and don’t need additional streaming capabilities, a basic streaming media console may be your best choice.
Roku is one of the best and most popular consoles in this category. In fact, Roku is the first player to ever work with Netflix streaming service. Since then, it has come up with advanced models and offers a wide range of streaming services. Other boxes in this category include Apple TV, WD TV, Google TV and Boxee Box.
If you are a gamer of own a TiVo, you may already have a good streaming console. Besides recording features, TiVo can also stream Amazon, Hulu and Netflix content. Moreover, many other gaming consoles including XBox 360, Sony PS3 and Nintendo Wii can stream media. If you are looking for an additional excuse to buy a gaming console, streaming abilities may get you even more interested.
If you are not much interested in gaming, but still want an excellent streaming device in terms of versatility, DVD/Blu-Ray players offering streaming will be your perfect choice. In fact, many companies like Sony, LG, Samsung and Insignia offer Blu-Ray players, home theater systems and HDTVs with streaming functionality. Hence, if you were planning to enhance the capabilities of your current home entertainment center, considering DVD/Blu-Ray players with streaming capabilities will be a good choice.
Key Features to Look For in a Good Streaming Device
In order to choose a good streaming device, you need to look for some key features. It is important to understand that besides support for streaming services, there are also other specifications you need to consider while buying a streaming media player.
In case you have a 1080p HDTV, it will be better to find a streaming media player with 1080p output. For instance, many current Roku boxes support 720p HDTV. There are only some high-end models which support 1080p.
Wireless vs Wired
It is always better to buy a streaming media player with a wired connection to your home network. However, if you are on a tight budget, there are many economical streamers which only support WiFi.
If you are buying a streaming media player with WiFi, it will be better to buy one that supports 802.11n WiFi. It will be great if you can upgrade your home network to dual-band 802.11n. This can be easily done with a router supporting 2.4GHz and 5GHz operations. However, you will have to find a streaming media player with 5GHz support.
Most of the 802.11n networks employ 2.4GHz band because that’s what most of the older WiFi devices use. However, 2.4GHz can get crowded and therefore, you may experience stutter or complete shut down because of interference. On the other hand, 5GHz band is less crowded and supports more streams.
USB Ports & Built-in Storage
If you are interested in playing local media without running it through a network, you should look for a streaming media player with USB ports or hard drive. This way, you will be able to store local content on a USB drive or stick, transfer it via your network to the streamer’s hard drive. There will be no streaming involved during playback. An example of such a streamer is WDTV. It has a built-in hard drive and USB ports. However, you will have to make sure that the streaming media player supports the content on a DLNA server.
Tips for Buying a Good Streaming Device
When it comes to streaming media players, you can find a lot of options these days. However, you still have to consider some important things like additional functionality, services offered and price. It is true to say that you may not be able to find a perfect streaming media player. But you can still find a great streaming device as per your needs. Here are some important things you should consider:
Duplication of Services
In order to avoid unnecessary duplication of services, you need to check media streaming support you already have in some components of your home entertainment center. You don’t need to worry if your TV does not have network access. There are many DVRs and Blu-Ray players like TiVo which come with built-in support for various services like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu Plus, Blockbuster and YouTube.
Although the ticket price of a streaming media player is important, it’s not the only thing you need to consider. You also need to be aware of all the charges associated with commercial services and licensing limitations. It is important to understand that services like Netflix are not free.
This is another important consideration. In order to check a streaming media player’s usability, you should test its interface at a store. You can also use a friend’s streaming media player to know how it works. If you are planning to buy a gaming console, you should check it with a remote and not just check navigation on the screen.
With so many options to choose from, it is a perfect time to jump into the exciting world of streaming devices. However, until you have compared different brands and considered various features, you should not rush into a purchase. In order to choose the best, you need to take as much time as possible.