Feeds

The year's best... TV media players

What's top for set-tops?

Reducing security risks from open source software

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.

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

Next page: TVs join the stream

More from The Register

next story
Child diagnosed as allergic to iPad
Apple's fondleslab is the tablet dermatitis sufferers won't want to take
Microsoft takes on Chromebook with low-cost Windows laptops
Redmond's chief salesman: We're taking 'hard' decisions
For Lenovo US, 8-inch Windows tablets are DEAD – long live 8-inch Windows tablets
Reports it's killing off smaller slabs are greatly exaggerated
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Seventh-gen SPARC silicon will accelerate Oracle databases
Uncle Larry's mutually-optimised stack to become clearer in August
EU dons gloves, pokes Google's deals with Android mobe makers
El Reg cops a squint at investigatory letters
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.