Cut the cord: 13 set-top media streamers

By , Computerworld |  Personal Tech, media streaming

Tired of watching online TV? Both models have a pair of USB ports so that you can attach a memory key or hard drive to play stored personal media. The Boxee Box adds an SD card slot for playing music, photos or that clip you just saved on your digital camcorder -- and it also includes a built-in Web browser.

While the Boxee TV system costs $99 wherever you buy it, it pays to shop around for the Boxee Box: It lists for $230 but can be found at many retailers for about $180.

Who they're best for: Like having local TV mixed with Web-based TV? The Boxee TV delivers both, and its ability to record and store an unlimited number of shows in the cloud is a big bonus -- if the service is available in your area. If you want local TV and Web surfing (but no DVR service), the Boxee Box with add-on TV tuner is a sound (albeit expensive) choice. (Note, however, that neither device works with older composite-input TVs.)

Netgear NeoTV / NeoTV Pro / NeoTV Max

Price: $50 for NeoTV, $60 for NeoTV Pro, $70 for NeoTV Max

With three inexpensive models to choose from, Netgear's NeoTV set-top boxes serve up 1920 x 1080 HD programming to your TV and provide freedom of choice for how you connect.

The NeoTV, NeoTV Pro and NeoTV Max all look the same and offer a range of features and services. At 3.6 x 3.6 x 1 in., they are among the smallest devices in this class.

The remote controls vary based on model. The NeoTV and NeoTV Pro systems include a basic infrared clicker that has six dedicated keys for popular programming. The high-end Max model has a more advanced remote that includes a full QWERTY keyboard with chiclet keys on the back, which makes entering passwords much easier than using an on-screen keyboard and arrows. You can also control all three NeoTVs from your smartphone or tablet via Android and iOS apps.

How they connect: All three connect to the Internet via 802.11n Wi-Fi or wired Ethernet, and they connect to your TV with an HDMI cable (not included). The Pro and Max models add an audio output port for driving external speakers, plus an AV-out port that can feed an older TV with composite audio and video signals.

What you can watch: While none of the NeoTV family integrates live cable or network TV, some of their online programming sources (some subscription- or fee-based, many free) include Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube, Pandora, Facebook and Cinema Now. The top-of-the-line NeoTV Max system also includes a microSD card slot and a USB port for playing back videos, photos and music from external devices.

Originally published on Computerworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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