Feeds

The year's best... TV media players

What's top for set-tops?

Security for virtualized datacentres

2010: it's a wrap

2010: it's a wrap

Networkable media players aren’t new, but in 2010 the addition of BBC iPlayer and similar services to set-top boxes and TVs made more consumers aware of the possibilities of online entertainment pumped straight into the living room, while Windows 7 made it simpler to stream content from your PC’s hard drive.

For those who are dipping their toe in the water with media streaming, the latest version of the Apple TV is one of the more eye-catching devices. Priced at the magic £99 mark, its compact size and the ease of use for which Apple is renowned will put it high on the list for many people wanting to take their first steps. But just how well does it compare to the alternatives?

Apple TV, rear view

Apple TV

It certainly boasts a slick and straightforward interface which puts the offerings of many other boxes to shame, though the remote is perhaps a little too pared down for some tastes, and paid-for HD content is only 720p, though it will output 1080p material if you have it.

With both wired and wireless networking built in, the Apple TV should be at home on any network – as long as you have computers running iTunes, from which content is streamed, or you're willing to rent films and TV shows from Apple's online store. And unless you’re happy to convert files to the few formats supported by Apple and iTunes, or jailbreak the device, you’re limited by the content available. There’s a reasonable selection online in iTunes, but UK services like LoveFilm and BBC iPlayer are absent.

Another media player that got plenty of publicity this year, the Boxee Box. Unlike the Apple TV, it does provide access to BBC iPlayer and other UK catch-up services, together with good support for network media playback. But at £200, and with much of its other online content not actually available in the UK, it’s perhaps not one to buy just yet.

D-Link Boxee box

The Boxee Box

One of the media players that we’ve rated highly in the past is Western Digital's WD TV Live, and this year’s update added an internal hard drive to make it the WD TV Live Hub. With a clean interface, good format support and 1TB of storage for those who don’t have a Nas media server or want a computer on while watching TV, it’s great for playing your own content but, so far, has only a limited range of online content available for UK viewers, and again no BBC iPlayer support.

New hybrid storage solutions

Next page: TVs join the stream

More from The Register

next story
Apple iPhone 6: Missing sapphire glass screen FAIL explained
They just cannae do it in time, says analyst
Slap my Imp up: Bullfrog's Dungeon Keeper
Monsters need to earn a living too
Oh noes, fanbois! iPhone 6 Plus shipments 'DELAYED' in the UK
Is EMBIGGENED Apple mobile REALLY that popular?
Apple's big bang: iPhone 6, ANOTHER iPhone 6 Plus and WATCH OUT
Let's >sigh< see what Cupertino has been up to for the past year
The Apple Watch and CROTCH RUBBING. How are they related?
Plus: 'NostrilTime' wristjob vid action
Apple's SNEAKY plan: COPY ANDROID. Hello iPhone 6, Watch
Sizes, prices and all – but not for the wrist-o-puter
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.