Top 10 Video Streaming : D-Link Boxee Box, Sony SMP-N200, Western Digital WD TV Live, Roku 2 NX

10/18/2012 3:36:32 PM

Price: $210.5

For those who want one device to play not only their own files but also the best of the web, nothing beats the Boxee. The way it sniffs out your own networked media and turns all of those messy files into a glorious, fully-artworked music and video library is the stuff of dreams, and the addition of on-demand content from the likes of BBC iPlayer and Spotify means you’ll never run our of things to watch and listen to. There’s a brilliant smartphone app and the remote is genius, too – its QWERTY keyboard is small but easy to use and it doesn’t need line of sight to work. A lack of Netflix or Lovefilm is the only black mark.


D-Link Boxee Box

Killer feature: Massive format support, including MKVs, Bly-ray IOSs – even 3D

Stuff says 5/5 stars

Want to mix your own files with the very best of the web? Then this is the streamer for you

Sony SMP-N200

Price: $121.5

Value: 5/5

This very affordable Sony unit concentrates on getting you the best of the web, iPlayer, Netflix, Lovefilm and Sony’s own excellent Video Unlimited service are all on board, but it could be surpassed by Sony’s own Google TV box, which we’re reviewing imminently.


Sony SMP-N200

Microsoft Xbox 360

Price: $226.9

Value: 5/5

Like Sony, Microsoft has repositioned its console as an all-in-one entertainment device. To that end it’s now got reasonable file streaming, Sky (live and Anytime), Lovefilm (now in HD), Netflix, iPlayer, and 1080p on-demand movies from Zune

Description: Microsoft Xbox 360

Sony Play Station 3

Price: $291.9

Valu: 5/5

As well as being a superb games machine and very respectable Blu-ray player, the PS3 is also a great streamer. It doesn’t support every format but it’s not far off and it’s got abundant on-demand services. This 320GB red model will set you back $388.9

Description: Sony Play Station 3

Apple TV

Price: $129.5

Value: 5/5

The new Apple TV may not have made as many headlines as the new iPad, but with 1080p streaming and iCloud skills now on board, it’s exciting enough to warrant mention. Combine it with an iOS device and it’s a neat, dual-screen games machine

Description: Apple TV

Western Digital WD TV Live

Price: $121.5

Value: 5/5

Already superb value at the official price $178, the WD TV Live can be had for a steal if you shop around. It lacks the HDD of the Live Hub at No.8, but it has awesome format support for your own files and now boasts Acetrax alongside Netflix, iPlayer and Spotify

Description: Western Digital WD TV Live

Western Digital WD TV Live

Popcorn Hour A-300

Price: $291.9

Value: 4/5

Yes, we know it’s got all of the aesthetic appeal of a particularly dull brick, but the Popcorn Hour A-300 is something of a cult favorite in streaming circles, thanks to its unrivalled format support, mass of connections and hard drive bay

Description: Popcorn Hour A-300

Western Digital WD TV Live Hub

Price: $251

Value: 4/5

Maximizing a video streamer usually involves partnering it with NAS, but thanks to a built-in 1TB drive, the WD TV Live hub is both. It’s compact and quiet, and at under $324 a bargain, especially as it now has on-demand video from iPlayer and Acetrax

Description: Western Digital WD TV Live Hub

Iomega TV with Boxee + Network Storage

Price: $243

Value: 4/5

A unit that combines Boxee’s brilliant features and interface with an HDD for local storage sounds like something of a streaming Holy Grail, but with a weaker remote and its lack of apps, it’s not quite there – at least not yet. But a hefty price cut helps

Description: Iomega TV with Boxee + Network Storage

Roku 2 NX

Price: $162

Value: 3/5

It doesn’t have built-in DLNA, but Roku’s dinky box of tricks does give you access to the likes of Netflix and iPlayer through a neat interface. Its motion-sensing remote means you can play Wii-style games on your TV, and it can also play some files via USB

Description: Roku 2 NX

Instant expert

Tom Parsons Vanilla ISO

If you don’t want your telly looking like cable-tentacled octopus (and honestly, who does?) then the ZyXEL WHD6215 AeroBeam wireless HDMI streamer ($283.5, is just the ticket for your wiring woes. A transmitter with support for up to four HDMI inputs can beam full HD 3D content across cavernous living rooms for clutter-free movie and gaming sessions, and its 60GHz frequency should also avoid airwave battles with 2.4GHz microwaves and routers, resulting in a more stable steaming experience. And as for fancy configuration and settings? Forget it. As long as you’re capable of plugging in a few cables (and can decide what you want to watch/play), you’re golden. Television octopuses (octopi?) are stuff of the past.

“The AeroBeam Wi-Fi streamer is the ticket for your wiring woes”

What look for

1.    Format mad

Fancy converting all of your tunes and movies? Us neither. So make sure the streamer you buy can play the formats you’ve go whether AVI, MKV or more exotic fare

2.    Web content

From Spotify to Lovefilm to Sony of services for steaming media from the net. Do your research, decide which you want, and buy a streamer that will bring them to you

3.    Serving

Home streaming relies on having a server, normally a PC. If you want an always-on system, network-attached storage (NAS) drives make more serving sense, as they consume little power and can be configured to auto-backup all of your digital goodies

4.    Wired or wireless?

Wires are a pain, but Wi-Fi isn’t always up to the demands of streaming. Ethernet-over-mains products such as Devolo’s dLAN make for a good alternative

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