What is a media player and why should I have one?
I was at my son's house and he told me he had something new. When I inquired he told me it was a media player. My first reaction was, Big Deal, I have a media player on my computer, it is called media player. Just another MS app.
He told me that this is different, it is a box and you hook it to your tv. Still I was unimpressed. Another box with dangling cables and another remote. Soon he will need a remote control organizer or a very large shoe box, with all those remotes.
He encouraged me to wait just a minute. He wanted me to view it with an open mind. I finally relented and then let him show me his new little box. Okay, I will look at it but, I doubt if it is anything new. After all, you can play media a bunch of ways already with xbox, dvd player, flash drives, etc.
"You can play movies on this, and a bunch of other things!" he complained. I told him that we watch movies every time I am over there, just burn them onto disk and watch them all night on the upconverting dvd player, not to mention the computer being able to hook to the tv.
Some Digital Media Player Views
After I got through my reluctance to hear about his newest gadget, I started to pay attention. So what is it?
It is a little box about 8 by 6 and 2 inches high that sits next to the DVD player, just big enough to house a hard drive. It has a power cord and a HDMI cable connecting it to the TV. So far unimpressive.
At closer look, it has wireless capability, and a couple of USB ports. I guess that helps. That little box connects to the wireless network. This one is truly a plug and play affair. Here is the beautiful thing about it, it can stream over the internet, or from any of his computers, he has two desktops, a laptop and a netbook. You can view any media on any of them. And you can do it wireless, by USB, or any other input.
This device detects the network and seamlessly connects to it in about 30 seconds. With Netflix, the streaming is just a couple of clicks away....I was impressed.
I decided to watch an old movie I liked and would probably never pay to rent again: "The Big Labowski." The streaming was in HD and flawless. I had to leave about a half hour into the movie, we had to turn it off and when I came back later, I was able to resume from the point I left off. Then I found the instant cue and started putting all kind of things in it.
My granddaughter came in and asked if I had heard a song that is her favorite, I told her no, and then she took the remote, navigated to youtube on the TV screen and then played the song on the TV, instantly. I was impressed.
Then my son took the remote and showed me the workgroups he had set up for each of the computers in the place and navigated the hard drive to his movies, mostly in avi, and started playing one of the TV series. Incredible quality on his 47" HD LCD Toshiba. All in widescreen and playing in HD.
I was blown away, I couldn't believe that he could play the media wirelessly off of all the computers, and off the internet with simple navigation tools. I thought this is going to be pixel prone or buffer battered. But the media center appears to have some buffering capacity that saves and samples the stream for the optimum performance. I was impressed with the quality of the feed and never saw a single pixel flaw from the beginning to the end.
Desired Features for Digital Media Players
It wasn't long and I was thinking about how I might be able to include the technology in my configuration for my TV. I was so impressed, I started looking around for a media player that might do all these things for me. I made a list of the features that I wanted:
- HD performance
- Play many formats especially AVI and streaming
- USB capability
- Wireless Connectivity
- Plug and Play Set-Up
- Sleek Design with small footprint
- Easy to use Remote
I think that everyone will like the ability to stream media straight to their TV without any complicated set up or techie knowledge. These media players are making you the one in charge of your media selections and you will no longer be on someone elses schedule, and you can watch anytime you choose.
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