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article image10 best streaming media players

By Tech News     Jun 2, 2014 in Technology
Streaming media players may be the most popular tech device you know little or nothing about. They're dominating Amazon.com's best sellers list and they're only getting more popular as many consumers are leaving expensive cable and satellite companies.
Here are 10 of the best streaming media players, in no particular order:
Google Chromecast: This easy-to-use dongle plugs into your computer's USB drive or your TV's HDMI port. The streaming stick lets you import media content from your TV to your iOS or Android-supported smartphone, tablet or Chrome browser on either a Mac or PC. Chromecast supports apps like Netflix, HBO Go, Hulu Plus and MLB.TV. Video quality is an outstanding 1080p HD, with surround sound audio to match. At $35, it's a great value.
Amazon Fire TV: This newly-released contender boasts best-in-class processing power, memory, storage and gaming ability thanks to the optional $39 Amazon Fire Game controller, with games starting at just 99 cents. Watch over 200,000 TV show episodes, and control your selections using its innovative voice search. Price- $99.
Apple TV: Twenty million buyers can't be wrong-- Apple TV has been attracting customers in droves due to its ease of use, 1080p HD video quality and awesome AirPlay streaming. Minus points for its lack of TV tuner, iPlayer app and for its relatively expensive movie rental prices. Price- $99.
Roku 3: Users love the new, easier to use interface and fast menu navigation. The cross channel search feature stands out, as does its remote-mounted headphone jack for private enjoyment. The lack of out-of-the-box local streaming has drawn criticism. Price- $99.
Western Digital WD TV Live: This lesser-known offering delivers all the most popular streaming services, including Netflix, Hulu Plus, Spotify and Vudu. It supports most file formats, and boasts easy access via USB and home WiFi networks. The glaring absence of Amazon on-demand service is the only major downside. At $80, it offers above-average bang for your buck.
Roku HD: Enjoy high-quality streaming video and audio offerings from Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, HBO Go, Vudu, Pandora, Mog, Rdio, MLB TV and more with this $60 high-value box. An added bonus is support for older TVs via its analog video output. Apple integration is below-average, as is its lack of YouTube and Spotify channels.
Sling Media Slingbox 500: You'll be hard-pressed to beat its stunning 1080p video and easy setup. But mobile apps come at extra cost, and encryption troubles render its HDMI port practically useless. Still, the Slingbox 500 is arguably the best way to watch cable TV networks and recorded content on the go. At $299, it's also the most expensive streaming video option on this list.
Roku Streaming Stick: Roku makes our list again with this Chromecast competitor. Easy installation, USB or wall adapter connectivity, 1080p video, and standard remote with RF technology are standout features. At $50, it's significantly more expensive than Chromecast, but you get literally hundreds more channels than you do with Google's entry in this highly competitive field.
Vizio Co-Star: Vizio has established itself as the industry value leader in HDTV. Now the company is making a splash with the most affordable Google TV streamer on the market, but compared to competitors like Roku and Apple, it falls short on delivering the best value for your money. Still, its Chrome browser, Google Play store access and full QWERTY remote make this $99 offering well worth your consideration.
Roku 2: Roku dominates this list, and the Roku 2 is yet another fine offering from this industry leader. It offers an outstanding variety of channels and Roku's vaunted headphone jack for private use. The lack of wired network connection is a major drawback. Price- $70.
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