After Hours

Internet TV: Roku still trumps Apple, Google, and Boxee

The Internet TV market has gotten very crowded very quickly. For those who want to add an Internet-connected box to their entertainment center, here's a quick rundown of the four main options.

This has turned into the year of Internet TV, or at least the year of the Internet set-top box. Google has launched its TV play. Apple and Roku have updated their Internet STBs, and Boxee (a cult favorite among techies and hackers) has moved beyond just software and delivered its own hardware box as well.

For those who are ready to take the plunge and add an Internet-connected box to their entertainment center, it's suddenly become a crowded market and a tough choice.

I'm going to help simplify it. Here is a quick summary of what each of these Internet STBs have to offer and who they will appeal to. I have also ranked them from worst to best.

4. Google TV

Of these four, Google TV is by far the most ambitious. Unfortunately, it's also the most complicated, and that's its ultimate undoing. I tested the Logitech Revue ($299) along with its Mini Controller ($129) and TV Cam ($149). Even without the two extra accessories, this is the most expensive option of the four.

For that premium price, you get a system that integrates with your cable or satellite set-top box and gives you the ability to switch back and forth between your traditional TV experience and an Internet interface on your TV. The Google TV interface makes it easy to search the web for video clips (although it's skewed toward YouTube and Google video search) and then play those clips on your big screen. That's its greatest strength.

If you watch a lot of short web video clips from across the web and want to get them up on your flat-panel TV then the Google TV box is now the best and easiest way to find them and watch them. I think it's still easier and a better experience to watch this short stuff on a laptop or the iPad, but some people may disagree.

The most disappointing thing with the Google TV is that it doesn't have many apps yet. Watch out for apps. If big content companies (i.e. TV networks and production companies) start jumping on the app bandwagon they could create super-dynamic apps/channels that mix the power of web and multimedia interactivity with traditional cable channels. Google TV is best-positioned for that revolution if it were to happen.

3. Boxee Box

Boxee could eventually turn out to be the leader in the Internet set-top box space. It has the best UI of any of these devices. It has the best remote, hands down (you flip it over and it has a keyboard on the back). And, it is the only one that successfully integrates social networking into the experience.

The Boxee Box ($199) is easy and pleasant to use, but also attractive and powerful. And, make no mistake, software and UI are huge differentiators in this space. The Boxee user experience is much cleaner, smoother, and more intuitive than Google TV, and the two of them are natural competitors because they are both about bringing video clips from across the web to the TV screen. Boxee has a better UI, but Google makes a little easier to find good stuff. My biggest problem with Boxee is that I just never seem to find that much good content to watch.

Boxee also allows you to access any of your own personal video files or movies and make them part of the experience, which is a plus. But, its killer feature may turn out to be that it effectively integrates a social experience so that you can add your friends and see the videos that they are watching and recommending. That could become even more important in the future since there is likely to be more and more content to sort through.

Another great thing about Boxee is that the software is also available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, so you can download it for free and try it. If you like it you can run it on your own box connected to your TV or you can go out and buy the Boxee Box STB to simplify the process.

2. Apple TV

The new Apple TV update for 2010 ($99) has two things going for it: 1.) It is amazingly small, which makes it easy to add to any TV or entertainment system, and 2.) It has a ton of content available, especially if you're already entrenched in the Apple and iTunes ecosystem.

The new Apple TV also solves a number of the nagging problems from the original Apple TV. It doesn't overheat, it doesn't have the goofy local syncing with a Mac or PC, and it now integrates Netflix (the best Internet-enabled content library). Although Apple claims it has the best Netflix experience of any device, it still doesn't quite match the Roku for speed, navigation, and simplicity.

However, Apple does have a great library of new release movie rentals, easy access to lots of audio and video podcasts, and a great gallery of movie trailers (a feature that I surprisingly have turned out to use a lot). Apple also has an interesting scheme with AirPlay, which it intends to use to allow devices such as the iPhone and iPad to stream content over-the-air to Apple TV. Once this goes live, it will be interesting to see how well it works and how much it gets used.

Apple narrowly edges Boxee for second place for one reason: It is simply more useful, and that's mostly due to the fact that it has more and better content.

1. Roku Player

The thing about Roku is that its mission is simple: Take high-quality video content that is published over the Internet and deliver it to your HDTV in an ridiculously simple way. And, it absolutely nails that goal.

And, it's inexpensive. It offers three versions: the HD ($59), XD ($79), and XD|S ($99). For most buyers, the XD will make the most sense. You can even get the Roku XD through retail channels such as Best Buy now for $89, since Netgear sells it as the NTV250 (pictured above).

Roku started out primarily as a streaming box for Netflix on Demand -- a library of catalog movie titles and complete seasons of past TV shows that Netflix originally made available for streaming to PCs. In bringing this to the TV, Netflix has brought us closer than anyone else to the goal of eventually having the whole history of movies and television shows available on demand over the Internet and playable on any screen. And, as I mentioned above, Netflix still has the best and simplest Netflix experience of any of these STBs.

Roku has now expanded its content and offers lots of different channels and content options, from Amazon Video (which offers virtually all of the same movie rentals as Apple TV) to Major League Baseball to This Week in Tech (TWiT) to Revision3, and much more.

Roku does not have the ability to access web clips from across the Web the way you can with Google TV and Boxee. So, if you're looking for a box that will allow you to watch that 7-minute clip from historychannel.com on your big screen TV, then Roku is not the best choice.

However, I never have a hard time finding good stuff to watch on Roku and that -- combined with its simple setup and ease of use -- is why I rank it number one, even over its much larger competitors.

What's your vote?

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

68 comments
mike_buckley
mike_buckley

I have netflix streamed to my hd tv through my DVD and I can output the Internet based TV information in 1080P through one of the HDMI ports on my HD TV. I do not see why I need any of these tools mentioned in this review.

JamesTheFirst
JamesTheFirst

I am looking at buying a Roku and subscribing to the Hulu Plus channel option to watch entertainment (i.e. TV shows, movies) but find that the Sports selection on Hulu Plus isn't all that robust. There are events on Internet (free) ESPN3 that I would like to see. Is there a way to see these events using Roku or do I have to get an additional WiFi sender/receiver to see these events on my TV. One of the advantages of Roku is that it is hooked to the WiFi router and once set up, means I don't always have to have my PC running to watch TV programming. For certain events I would gladly crank up the PC if I could see the football game. I still have an older, non-WiFi capable TV. Any help out there?

jamie42069
jamie42069

There are so many other options out there for internet tv. My only ? about the internet tv set top boxes are do you have to pay for a monthly subscription? I currently Use this program that i got from http://www.tvon-yourpc.com . Basically you buy it one time and you can access thousands of channels all across the world. The only thing that you need is an active internet connection.

stuarthsmith
stuarthsmith

Now that Roku can connect to the PlayOn server software, you DO have access to all those internet channels. Hands down the leader now that this functionality is there. If you have not tried PlayOn, give it a 14-day trial and, like me, you will probably be purchasing it. Great product. Better than Tversity by far. Tons of plugins available for any internet stream you can find. I watch shows from The CW, NFL channel, ESPN3, you name it. If there is web content, someone has made a PlayOn plugin.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Really? Is that the name the industry is going to go with for these things? I'm going to feel like I should go to the clinic and get a shot every time I watch a show on the TV. :)

rcaraway
rcaraway

Haven't seen it myself, but a colleague swears by "Popcorn Hour" system. Is this comparable?

jhamby479
jhamby479

The promotional price on the TiVo Premiere makes it great for adding NetFlix, YouTube, Pandora, Amazon Video On Demand, and more to your TV. Oh, and it's the best DVR out there.

ben_j_dover
ben_j_dover

It seems to me to be an excellent way to bust through the cable industries artificial internet utilization limits. As I key this Comcast (aka CumCrud) had a 250GB per month bandwidth limit. Bust it and get tossed as I read their policy - and there is no rollover either. So using the net to watch television programming is DOA until someone turns a bright light on the archaic business model of Cumcrud and other ISP with limits on usage. Sheesh - no wonder the USA is lagging way behind other more adept and rational nations. Then again they probably do not die by the maximum profit for the least possible service that USA industry has embraced.

ag691234
ag691234

What about MythTV. Not to be ignored.

bobdurai
bobdurai

Your write up on Roku has a picture of Netgear!!!

bwexler
bwexler

Which one would you recommend for use on a Verizon Wireless account, with a 5 GB monthly limit and variable bandwidth?

Zzyzyx
Zzyzyx

I haven't tried any of these devices, but what about the ASUS O!Play or the Patriot Box Office. These are titled "Media Players" but how do they factor into the STB market? Are they completely separate? Or are there boxes that combine these features too?

Pcobiwan
Pcobiwan

I have a Samsung Blu Ray Player. For $80 I was able to add a USB wireless option and 'voila!' I have my Netflix streaming (along with several other useful online products.) The only reason I'd consider Apple TV is for more recent episodes of shows I enjoy and did not get a chance to put on my DVR. If I were so inclined I could set up my Directv with wireless and get on-demand options for a much greater scope of content. I am not inclined simply because of pay-per-view costs vs. my Netflix once monthly fee for all content.

Freetime000
Freetime000

Media Center + MC Internet TV + Netflix added, I think Hulu is on it too? It delivers an amazing experience using my current cable integrated with everything else. Even the wife can handle it (once I set it up). Its major lacking and failure is that it requires a geek to setup.

ImaginaryFriend
ImaginaryFriend

That there was no mention that the Roku now has a Hulu+ channel available to it. Which the other ones do not at the moment.

Sysadmin/Babysitter
Sysadmin/Babysitter

WDTV-LIVE Still beats these, especially if you already own content on USB capable storage drives. And, the low price is the clincher!

dominoscr
dominoscr

I think leavin out consoles from this conversation is a big mistake. The PS3 and Xbox 360 both are positioned to be killer app devices if they are ever put to full use in this space. The original PS3 still beats all of these offerings with Yellow Dog Linux installed. It is a true multimedia entertainment center with full Internet capabilities and the option to use whatever wireless or wired key board and mouse the user prefers. Unfortunately, Sony took away a lot of the PS3 capabilities in the last two years in order to unify it's more stripped down products (PS3 slim) into the market. Still, the older PS3 stomps the new competition in a side by side comparison hands down! The 360 is taking baby steps into this market as well with content provided by Netflix and customized experiences like the ESPN channel. I look forward to seeing this market progress!

kreniska
kreniska

I like the Apple TV solution because I have a MAC and I like to edit my own videos and watch them on my big screen TV.

rbumpus
rbumpus

Why not consider TiVo Premiere in this grouping?

rbumpus
rbumpus

I have 3 of them. You can get all the stuff others are talked about all baked in. You can transfer from one to the other. Storage with the Premier or with adding a WD drive is great.

deskhero
deskhero

what are you watching guy? fifty DVD's worth of content a month seems plenty for me. seems mighty generous to me here in the UK, what do ComCrud charge you for that package?

JCitizen
JCitizen

I'd love to do that on a Mac x64 with a compatible digital TV card and Snow Leopard 64 bit! I want the large terabyte storage capability and the full networking, while watching TV on the same screen. I have this now with a Vista Media Center, but am very tired of all the DRM problems!

dkidd23
dkidd23

Its Roku with a Netgear label. Read the review.

JCitizen
JCitizen

It looks like folks really like the ASUS over at Amazon; but a Google search of reviews makes the Patriot look like a piece of junk! Anytime you can get Amazon reviews on a product, you can pretty well bank on it. Wouldn't hurt to check out the reviews for the other units over there too. One question I'd have, is which one does 1080 resolution the best. Looks like the ASUS has that for sure!

ajmueller
ajmueller

I just saw a review of the Orb player on Macworld.com. Unfortunately, there weren't any User reviews, but I think the reviewer gives it a fair shake. He mentions that it does Hulu (with some issues) and Netflix as well. And depending on how much you want to be involved, it appears the initial setup might put off some as you need to connect it to a computer and install software initially. Here's the link if you want to read more. http://www.macworld.com/reviews/product/722533/review/orb_tv_video_player_vp1.html?expand=true As for me, I have just liberated myself from the expensive Cox HD DVR cable box. I was recording things and not watching them. Why not save about 45% off my monthly cable/phone/internet bill. I added the 30 day trial of Netflix and streamed it to my PS3. Impressed so far. I also use the TV Tuner card on my computer for Over the air, but I think some of the signal is lost, so I'm not happy. Fortunately, I don't watch much TV anyway. Hope that helps.

ray.kochevar
ray.kochevar

I bought mine about 6 months ago at Best Buy for $120 and can access ALL of the files I have stored on any shares in my house (several PC's, and TB worth of content). It does Pictures, Music, internet (youtube, etc) and Netflix Streaming.. PANDORA Radio! It's the Shiznit man! HDMI and USB connections too!

Snufykat
Snufykat

I would not include the xbox360 or tivo due to the increased price of monthly access fees. You have to have and maintain a live account to use the 360 for netflix. I would like to pay less a month not more. Most people already have the live account for on line gaming I do not so it would add to the price for me.

Selltekk
Selltekk

I have a Revue, and while it is a really cool device, Logitech and Google brought a product to market before it was ready. Netflix works great, nad the video quality is fantastic, however, Hulu isn't available, and browsing to NBC, CBS, ABC, etc network sites you are unable to view show video streams because they are specifically blocking non-PC based viewing of the content. I also have a netgear digital entertainer EVA-9150 on my main TV and have all of my music, Pictures, and Movies ripped to a Netgear ReadyNAS NV+. In all I have about 4TB of content on this device. The Netgear device plays it all perfectly. However, even with the built in DLNA server (as of now, Revue only supports DLNA server connectivity to networked media) in the NAS box, the Revue can only see the folders on the NAS box, not the files/content, even tought many of the movies I have are .MKV files which logitech has specifically stated that the Revue can read. Logitech and Google need to release an update that allows the Revue to address SMB shares before I move this device to my primary TV.

JJFitz
JJFitz

I just hook up my laptop to my entertainment system via HDMI and I get YouTube, Netflix, Amazon on demand, Hulu, and iTunes. I can also view media that is stored on any of my other computers on the network. If I don't want to hook up the laptop, my Blu-ray player gets Netflix, YouTube (although searching is clunky without a keyboard), and some of my local media stored on my computers. What else do these things offer?

ShockMe
ShockMe

The remote is awkward but it is all built into the display itself. Comes with apps like YouTube, Hulu+, NetFlix, VUDU for video streaming, dual OTA tuners, and for the moment is hooked to a Scientific Atlanta cable DVR. More than I can watch really, but I'll likely add an AppleTV to fill in the gaps on recent release rentals and to stream from my phone. Mostly waiting for the fiber to be pulled to the house before I cut the cable. For my needs cable is still the least expensive option at 25 cents per hour for 1080i 60hz and three tuners. I would buy and archive but even with cheap HDDs It would never be cost effective to maintain the collection of what I've watched and I will want to watch. Ideally I would rent then upgrade the license for anything I want to keep for later viewing or redownload. Then for material older than 2 years pay a flat rate to access TV and movie archives as well as one live news and weather stream.

W.E.
W.E.

Girlfriend bought me the Roku XDS two days ago, and after doing research on it (including Rokus' own forums) I asked her to send it back. It won't attach to my in house media either by SMB, or DLNA. My garage sale first gen Xbox and free software runs circles around the the Roku

gechurch
gechurch

These all look interesting, but I can't help seeing their limitations. I have a media center PC that I was lucky enough to build out of spare parts. It works great for us... I bought a $20 HD Tuner off eBay and use Media Center to watch and record TV, and for music. I also bought a wireless keyboard that has media center controls and a touchpad in it, so we can surf the Internet on it, or anything else we want to do. I must say the touchpad is a bit clumsy, and the remote part of the keyboard doesn't have all the buttons I want. So I found an iPhone app that acts as a remote control. So far it's a great experience. It's also got a few more advantages; 1 button shutdown of the machine, I can choose and play music through the iPhone app without turning the TV on, and it's got a nice usable keyboard too. Next I will buy a second HD tuner, so I can recordone show while watching another. I think I'll also get some wireless speakers on the deck. That way we can sit outside and control the music through the media center from out on the deck... that's the other advantage of using the iPhone for a remote - it has much better range. My wife has no problems with this set up, and it certainly gives the best flexibility. Are others finding this is easy too, or am I an exception because I'm a geek?

Mustang Sally
Mustang Sally

We just bought the Logitech Google TV. Not especially for the packaged streaming entertainment you can get Netflix with many new game consoles, too. But for the ability to get "the rest of the web..." We're not texters and my husband is half blind so the bigger keyboard is great. And my 5 yr old can play all the (free!) educational games/activities online. Can you pull up local weather radar on any of the other boxes? Check out consumer reviews/ratings on used cars at edmonds? Read your favorite blogs (like this one?)??

jocallahan
jocallahan

I got the Roku XD after the Blu-Ray player I have stopped and started in Netflix, until it was unwatchable. The Roku does too, though not as much, but it still seems NF is unable to keep up with demand. I have cable with 7 or 8Mb download, so it's not that. Anyone else experiencing this?

armando.garcia
armando.garcia

Keep It Simple Stupid. A model of simple usability and low-cost risk. Let me list the advantageous: 1. Low-cost HD streaming content- the set top box market will make all shiney new devices, no matter how feature-rich now, obsolete within the year. I'm not spending big bucks for the latest and greatest right now. 2. Roku is so simple that my 5 year old can figure out the navigation and find "SpongeBob" or "Pranks" when he wants to.. My Tweens can view Amazon on Demand (new) releases. Finally, my technology-challenged spouse can watch Glee on Hulu-Plus or her MLB games. 3. Roku constantly upgrades the device and I can satisfy the "Geek" in me by experimenting with private Apps/Channels for local media streaming or watching major university lectures. 4. The WiFi works, unless you live in a WiFi cluttered neighborhood or you have too many WiFi hogging devices turned on. For the money, for the simplicity, for the target market (budget-minded family), Roku HD is a no Brainer.

just1opinion
just1opinion

... to my PC and connect it to the TV? All these fancy options just seem expensive to me. I want to go digital antenna and Netflix/Hulu. It's $10/mo. rather than $100. Are we captive to expensive stuff?

twagner
twagner

There really is no valid option when you are stuck with Verizon broadband and their unlimited data plan with a 5GB cap..WTH or any of the other providers that cap your bandwidth.

dtrnelson
dtrnelson

Same here. Looking for something to "leverage" my investment in media storage. (I always planned to watch at least some of them a second time...) Don't have time now for that, don't want access to oceans of oceans of "fresh! new!" Want "stale. old." Any monitors out there with an RJ-45 and "Linux Inside!"?

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

The telco has internet TV available here, as low as $24/mo for first year for new signups. My buddy works for Telus, upgrading switches and such, he gets it free and it's different than Shaw (as far as channel choices) but all the same crap in the end. Unfortunately, they deliver a garbage Internet service though, slow as molasses and completely unreliable. So bundles to save more money are a waste of time.

chris
chris

Would be the ability of the device to stream a locally stored media library without any hacks, etc. I recently bought a Roku and am very happy with the simplicity and reliability of the device (not to mention the price!). However, since the best sound system in the house is my home theater, I would really like to stream my iTunes library. For this reason alone, I am considering buying an Apple TV for my home theater and use the Roku elsewhere in the house. Others will likely point out that you can set up a server for local content for the Roku, but it's not an OOTB solution.

armando.garcia
armando.garcia

I guess angst about bandwidth limits applies when one has a family of six (2 parents and 4 kids). In such a household, one can have Rhapsody music service going on simultaneously for 3 PCs. In addition, kids play online games, social network, and watch films/TV shows over NetFlix, Amazon on Demand, and Hulu Plus (that would be my spouse and I). I just bought an Internet enabled HDTV. Unfortunately, monopolized capitalism (ISPs) is hindering U.S. innovation a bit.

mckinnej
mckinnej

Without seeing the reviews you are looking at it makes it tough to say for sure, but I own one and here is my honest, non-zealot opinion. The PBO is a nice hobbyist/tinkerer/hacker device, but it is not ready for the average consumer. It has a Linux underbelly so it can be tweaked. There are even alternate interfaces available. I haven't used any of those so I won't comment on them. The factory interface is not exactly user friendly. It works, and works well, but my wife can't use it because it requires an understanding of the local network and my shared drive's directory structure. The HDMI doesn't play well with my Samsung TV. I get audio less than 50% of the time, but that's not necessarily the PBO's fault. As I have learned through researching the problem, HDMI is flaky anytime you mix manufacturers. Go figure. So I'm using the standard audio/video connections. That's pretty much it for the bad stuff. On the positive side I have yet to find something it won't play. It has played every format I have thrown at it. Playback quality is excellent and it has several neat features. I like it a lot. It has good support via their forums and the firmware is improving through regular updates. It was well worth the $65 I paid for it (after rebate). IMO it is the best device of its type on the market, but I consider it different than the devices in this topic which pull content from the Internet.

JCitizen
JCitizen

In a community near here, you can get 5Mbs DSL for less than 20 bucks a month. Who needs Microsoft's fees on top of that!?

schapman
schapman

I have over 10mb connection but I had the same issue as you had. I did some research and there are router settings that affect the throughput of streaming data. Once I tested for optimum settings and made the changes I never had a problem even with HD streaming.

JCitizen
JCitizen

I got 5Mbs download bandwidth, and I never have download problems now. In the first week it was touch and go, but apparently it takes that long to tweek the settings so it will not do those things. They shape the traffic automatically. Too many cookies or malware present will greatly affect this though. I keep it clean 24/7. I'm watching it in IE8 with Silverlight on Vista Home premium 64bit. The signal comes from a G speed wireless router hooked to PPoE DSL. They went to that protocol recently to improve just this kind of thing. We own our ISP in this community, and they do things our way fortunately. We are switching to 1Gbs light fiber all the way to the PC pretty soon. I'll have to get an 'N' router when that happens!!

flashgordonmd
flashgordonmd

The review implied Roku can't do "web clips." i took that to mean you can't ge to youtube, etc., or use your computer's browser, or evenp view the screen of your laptop. Am i wrong? I have an older sony 53" rear-projection tv that's HD-ready-it'll display 720i, 720p &1080i (i don't remember if it does 1080p or not). I don't have a convertor box (but maybe the comcast cable box HD could help). It has component and S-video inputs, too, but no HDMI. Will any of the bxes mentioned in thiw review do.better?

TexasHippie
TexasHippie

I have a small rooftop Antenna and Hulu Plus and Netflix. I also have boxee on PC but I rarely use it as Hulu and Netflix usually suffice. The only caviat is: on line TV viewing requires more interaction and intent. You have to look at programming and decide which season, episode (etc) and it take dedication not required by cable's easy switch and watch . In other words you have control but it can be time consuming. Cheap has its price as well..

Par-Pro
Par-Pro

Yes you can, but then how would be able to let service company's take all your money to make there boat payments. Remember Web TV well it didn't last long ether. Also how else are they going to get you to buy a new TV.

armando.garcia
armando.garcia

Yeah, I did that. I hooked up my laptop with HDMI cable to my 73" Mitsubishi DLP HD-TV. I was happy because I could even access my media upstairs through my home network. Until my tween girls kept disconnecting my laptop so they could social network and listen to Rhapsody Online in their rooms-- ARRRGH!

KeithAlan
KeithAlan

That is what I did years ago. I have an old PC I connected to my LCD flat screen (Originally hooked to a tube TV when I built it) and stream my video from a wireless router to the TV. I also build my own program for my own videos. My current system (500GB internal / 500GB external) I can hold about 400 movies online at a time. The program I wrote is in flash and html and it shows the Genre of film and titles of movies with the cover. If you like the movie you click on the movie picture and it starts playing it on the big screen... Its a slick set up. I used DVD Shrink to take my DVDs and turn them into an ISO file and use Daemon Tools for the emulated drive... Then use a video player (PowerDVD) to play the video from my computer to the big screen...

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

I have 100's of channels, playing in the background while I download and watch my choice of TV every night for free. I'm thinking of canceling my TV channels altogether (Save the $100/mo), beyond the 13 free which I wouldn't be watching either. TV is on, muted, while I watch Two and a Half Men or Hell's Kitchen on the computer at my own leisure, TIVO as nothing on this!

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

5GB, don't you mean 50GB?

DHOLYER
DHOLYER

I just bought a External RAID storage box that can hold 8Tera on 4 2T drives. It seems like tons of space to store your videos. But you wikll not believe how fast full 1080p movies eat up the free space. It does not help that I'm moving my 4 One tera USB drives on to the big storage box. The other thing that is nice is my WD media player can hook to it at the same time and lets me play the movies on my 40" LCD. Plus it will Upscale everything to 1080p. So as the storage space fills I can start down-scaling them into 640p. Now I can start using the Terabyte Drives to store movies from my Dish 722k in 1080p. And using my DVD burner I can record them in 720p on a DVD. And my DVD collection after 12 years is now going over 3,000 disks.

Randy Hagerman
Randy Hagerman

Roku HAS a very easy solution for streaming your iTunes library. It's a program called MP3tunes, and is available as a 'free' channel through their Channel Store. the free version has some limitations as to space, but I'd say they're fairly generous w/ the amount they allow you @ NC. You're free to purchase greater storage capacity, if you require it. I use it personally, but I can't tell you much more about it, other than it's an easy setup. I just click the icon on my TV, turn it up, and let it play....

JCitizen
JCitizen

I've got a HL-61A750 running off a cable ready media center PC with an ATI HDMI graphics card passing the signal to the TV. This has worked pretty well for me. After my first card failed on warranty, the factory tried to replace it with an INVIDIA, and found out the HDMI passthru just wouldn't work, despite upgrading the mobo sound card chip with the latest driver just for that. They finally woke up and smelled the coffee and put the ATI Skyraider replacement that was supposed to go with that custom desktop arrangement. Streaming is done wireless at "G" speeds, no problem. Netflix uses silverlight in IE8 with incredible resolution, for streamed content. I have learned that many HDMI cables are not wired the same, and can cause problems with compatibility with the various manufactures. They don't necessarily need to be expensive, just fully wired correctly. The Patriot Box Office looks very interesting! From the Amazon Reviews, it makes me wonder whey it wasn't featured here!?

JCitizen
JCitizen

I think Media Center setup will handle your two cards like a single dual card, I believe. Hopefully allowing auto setup will get it right. If you have any problems, the greenbutton(.com) will help. They are really the only place to get the thousands of answers to people's technical problems. I found out there are no experts within 500 miles of me, that know anything about properly configuring these things. But it is well worth it to me, as I cannot have a satellite station in my apartment. I'll move someday, but 'till then...

gechurch
gechurch

It didn't occur to me to look. I hadn't expected to record any shows, so the issue didn't occur to me until after it arrived. I just found the first one the explicitly listed compatibility with Win7 64-bit. Looking now there are a few dual tuners. The cheapest Buy It Now one is $100(AU) though, whereas the cheapest single tuner one is ten bucks, so they are by far the better value. It looks like the dual tuners only need a single antenna though, which is an advantage (assuming the signal isn't split between the two channels).

JCitizen
JCitizen

You've been a veteran for a while then! When I was subscribed to premium cable content, I was using an ATI TV Wonder external digital cable tuner with 3.0 USB, and an analog/digital Hauppauge WinTV HVR-1290 ATSC card. I dropped the digital content for economic reasons, but the analogue side seems pretty good so far all by itself! I imagine with the up-converting ability of the circuitry now, using the older connectors will rend content that is pretty close to the highest definition standard. I suppose that just depends on whether the original lower resolution content has all it's frequency and tracks in place. I've noticed the same goes for DVD content - it can look like crap, or be stunning depending on whether the original track is in place from the original movie/show that is being viewed. I had forgotten about the original 'Super VHS' standard for example. Perhaps all of this comes into play?

JCitizen
JCitizen

my DRM doesn't kick in as much now that I started using only the analog chips in my media center. It is a lot easier to setup, and content does not get error messages complaining of rights violations. The resolution looks the same on my big screen, so I don't know how analog can look almost as good as 1080i/p on 61" of screen real estate, but I'm not complaining!

DHOLYER
DHOLYER

In 1996 with my 386sx PC I added a ATI All in Wonder car that let me send video to my TV and record Analog RF TV. Now I will not get a HDTV unless it has HDMI and a analog VGA connector. Any HDTV with more than 3 types of inputs most likely has a 9 or 13 pin VGA Analog RGB connector. But S-video is disappearing fast. But S-video to Composite cables are easy to find, Radio Shack even has them but they also have converter boxes but so does almost everyone else.

DHOLYER
DHOLYER

If you look at the recent Millennium Digital Copy Right Act of 2003, even though I receive Digital forms of the movies. In that mess of legal BS, if the video signal becomes Analog before it is digitized back to a DVD you have full legal right to have a copy for your own personal use. That also means you are not allowed to sell the DVD, but it has nothing preventing bartering with the disk, in English that means you can trade but can not sell. I use S-video to send analog video, it is the cleanest analog method unless you go Optical and that is digital not analog. The hassel is finding distrabution amps that can handle 848x480 (aka Wide Screen HD

bothapr
bothapr

Hi Keith, Is your Program available - It sounds great!!

roninido
roninido

@KiethAlan I'm currently using XBox Media Center installed on a computer in my living room to do the same thing you're doing. XBMC automatically mounts disk image files (ISO, NRG, IMG and BIN), and plays movies, audio files, includes a photo viewer, provides weather updates, RSS feed, file manager, can be controlled by a remote over wireless (I'm playing with a hacked Pandigital Novel ereader as my XBMC remote), can stream to other devices, etc. I think what you've done is a great achievement, but you definitely might want to check out XBMC. http://wiki.xbmc.org

Par-Pro
Par-Pro

the TV police will come for you because your taking money out of there pockets. LOL

JCitizen
JCitizen

whole heartedly! Full resolution movie content will gobble up the largest storage rigs, like a polar bear on steroids! I know I'll need a really BIG NAS soon!

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