Stop paying for cable and satellite TV. Watch it for free: Apple TV and other Media Receivers Reviewed

Are you tired of paying for cable or satellite and still not finding anything to watch? Do you have hundreds of channels but find you only watch a select 2 or 3 shows? Sever the subscription TV tether and go internet. A lot of major networks post their shows for free on line. Why pay for a program when you can watch it for free at your leisure. You want to watch it on your big HDTV you say? Say no more...enter the digital media receiver. With these devices you can access tons of online free media like Netflix, HULU, Pandora, NBC, Comedy Central, etc. Not to mention all your networked home media. Just take a look a few of the devices below and choose the one best for you!

Apple TV

Stream online content? NETFLIX, FOX, ABC, Disney And BBC as well as rentals from ITunes

Access to Home Network Media? Yes through ITunes installed on MACs or PC's

WiFi? Yes

External device capable? No

File formats?

Video formats

  • H.264 video up to 720p, 30 frames per second, Main Profile level 3.1 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps per channel, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats
  • MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats
  • Motion JPEG (M-JPEG) up to 35 Mbps, 1280 by 720 pixels, 30 frames per second, audio in ulaw, PCM stereo audio in .avi file format

Audio formats supported

  • HE-AAC (V1), AAC (16 to 320 Kbps), protected AAC (from iTunes Store), MP3 (16 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, and 4), Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV; Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound pass-through

Photo formats

  • JPEG, GIF, TIFF

The Skinny? Small sleek design that is very affordable. User interface is excellent allowing remote usage through an Iphone or Ipad. It can't connect to pre HDMI TVs and is missing a lot of content with only a few networks supported. Rentals are cheap at 99 cents but with the amount of free internet TV out there I really would like to see access to the free networks like HULU, and TV.com.

Seagate Free Agent Go Flex TV

Stream online content? Yes

  • Netflix
  • YouTube
  • Paramount
  • vTuner
  • Mediafly
  • Picasa
  • Flickr
  • Video Feeds (RSS)
  • Text Feeds (RSS)
  • Finance Widget
  • Weather Widget

Access to Home Network Media? Yes Connects to your PC or Mac computer, home network and the Internet via Ethernet or wirelessly with the optional WIFI Adapter which must be bought

WiFi? Yes. Must buy separately

External Drive Capable? Yes

USB 2.0 Ports: Simply plug in your digital camera, digital camcorder, USB flash drive or external USB hard drive

File Formats?

  • Video: MPEG–1, MPEG–2 (VOB/ISO), MPEG–4 (Xvid), DivX Plus™ HD, Xvid HD, AVI, MOV, MKV, RMVB Real Media, AVC HD, H.264, WMV9, VC–1, M2TS, TS/TP/M2T
    • Video Resolutions: NTSC 480i/480p, PAL 576i/576p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p
    • Subtitles: SAMI (smi), SRT, SUB
  • Audio: AAC, MP3, Dolby® Digital, DTS, ASF, FLAC, WMA, WMA Pro, LPCM, ADPCM, WAV, OGG
    • Playlist: M3U, PLS
  • Photo: JPEG files (up to 20 megapixels), MJPEG, BMP, GIF, PNG, TIFF

The Skinny? A little more than the Apple TV but has a few extra feature like additional channels, external device capability.

Logitech Revue

Stream online content? Yes potentially no limit to what can be accessed.

Major content providers like Hulu, CBS, and ABC are currently blocking Google TV

WiFi? yes

External Drive Capable? No

The Skinny? Handy keyboard makes browsing a snap Game changing device that has the potential to access virtually all online media. It has the ability to search multiple sources (web, home network, media providers) at one time for content. High priced and has some bugs to work out but firmware updates could make this the device the beat.

WD TV Live Plus

Stream online content? Yes, play YouTube videos, access Facebook, see your photos on Flickr, play music on Pandora, and watch daily video podcasts from CNN, NBC, MTV, ESPN, and other online content.

WiFi? Yes but you must buy the accessory separately. Can stream home networked media through a wired connection also.

External Drive Capable? Yes through mutiple USB ports. Can also view content directly from camera

File Formats?

Audio

MP3, WAV/PCM/LPCM, WMA, AAC, FLAC, MKA, AIF/AIFF, OGG, Dolby Digital, DTS

Photo

JPEG, GIF, TIFF, BMP, PNGVideo AVI, XviD, MPG/MPEG/1/2/4, VOB, MKV, TS/TP/M2T, MP4 (h.264), MOV, M2TS, WMV9

The Skinny? Low price and easy of use makes this a great first device for those serious about networked streaming

Roku XDS

 Stream online content? Yes too many to list. Probably the largest selection available. Has all the big names. Netflix, Amazon, Hulu etc to include  few sports channels

WiFi? Yes but can't access media on your home network

External Drive Capable? Yes

File Formats?

Video support: MP4, M4V (H.264).

Audio support: MP3, AAC, M4A.

Image support: JPG, PNG

The Skinny? The low price and expansive selection is a huge plus but not being able to access network media is definitely a problem for those who want to access their media library.

PARTING THOUGHTS

 There are definitely more media receivers out there so I encourage you to check those out too. Also I did not review every last detail about the above devices and recent updates in firmware could change capabilities so before you buy do research again.

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