Best media streamers to buy in 2012
23rd Apr 2012 | 12:15
As far as streaming goes, the Boxee Box certainly goes beyond the call of duty, offering the ability to collect media from the internet as well as scouring users’ home network for all existing content. There’s an impressive range of supported media formats here, including WMV, DivX, Xvid and ISO. The Boxee's remote, complete with QWERTY keyboard on one side, is another desirable aspect, as is its ability to automatically organise all media content by type. Following a few glitches on launch, a recent firmware patch update has fixed these issues, leaving a fluid interface that’s a pleasure to use.
Alongside the release of the iPad 3 in March, Apple updated its media streaming device, the Apple TV, which now offers streaming in full 1080p HD resolution. As well as a browser for select Internet content, including YouTube, Netflix and Vimeo, Apple TV’s photostream can be integrated via iCloud, automatically sending all new pictures to the TV and letting users view their snaps on the big screen (all of which can be controlled via iPhone or iPad, of course). Frustratingly, it still can’t stream free TV channels, and whilst Airplay streaming is solid, it’s annoyingly restricted to content stored on iTunes - though workarounds are available.
With a heft similar to that of Apple TV, and just £50 more than the entry-level Roku LT, the 2 XS offers an impressive video streaming service at 1080p HD. It also brings Bluetooth capability and a motion-based controller, which are amiss in the small brother model. Easy to navigate with customisable layouts, the 2 XS is a strong market contender for casual users - and the first of the Roku series to support games. The lack of DLNA will be a deal breaker for media aficionados, and supported audio and video formats are comparatively thin on the ground. But for its moderate price and easy-to-use setup, this is one to recommend.