Alright, this review is not about a single product, but the whole product category. As I already mentioned, America, and presumably China and Japan, are pioneering Internet TVs, which if successful, would completely transform the way we watch movies. At some point in the future, it will completely make discs (BR / DVD) redundant, relying completely on Internet. Countries not having economically viable broadband access will take more time to catch on. Of course, lot of money is at stake, so commercial politics will deeply impact the success of this technology. Remember Digital Cameras?
So, I will begin with basics.
Almost every TV you will find in the consumer market today has capabilities for internet connectivity and play an array of free and subscription-based video services. But I believe it is not a wise idea to get these TVs, because the part of the TV concerning internet connectivity and internet-based services is likely to obsolesce faster than the other parts of the TV.
Here’s my rundown of the key stand-alone products in the market today:
- Apple TV— Apple significantly stripped its previous version of the product by the same name, to make it lightweight, and capable only of playing internet-based services. You cannot play discs nor can you play your local NAS based media. There may be a way to play it through the iPad or a computer, but then it assumes you have an iPad or you are ok using a computer. Other than this, the aesthetics of the device are pretty cool, the remote is elegant and hopefully powerful. For $99, if you are not big on local media, this is a great buy
- Google TV — Here’s what Google says — if you can search most everything using Google, why not the TV programs? This little box — currently made by Logitech and Sony — sits in-between your TV and the DVR, so you never have to use the remote from your cable/sat provider again. You can search, record and do everything else you do with Google using this Google TV. The flipside? Fact that you still can’t play local media and this weird story I read about Google making Chrome the core of this device. Also, you will not find the money needed to buy this device up your sleeves ($299 for Logitech, $399 for Sony). But with Sony, a BD player is also included.
- Roku — Roku is pretty sleek. You can play NetFlix, Pandora and most internet video services, except YouTube. How weird is that? But they make up for it with their extremely low price ($99 for the highest end model) and the fact that you CAN play local media (by attaching a hard drive to it, the coolest and most non-limiting solution I have seen) (this feature is expected in Nov 2010)
- WD Media Hub: Of course, the other industry segment which is poking its nose in this industry is the one that makes the disks. WD for example, has come up with its hard disk that’s also a media player. Everything about this device is great, it has everything I was looking for — except it comes from a hard drive company. All said, I might just buy this device.
All reviews are based on my knowledge of the products as of this writing. Should there be errors or omissions, I am glad to correct it, but not responsible for your purchasing decision based as such on my review.