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What is a media player and why should I have one?

Updated on June 12, 2011

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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    • SteveoMc profile image

      SteveoMc 7 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      @tonymac04 Glad you found the info useful. Thanks for stopping by.

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 7 years ago from South Africa

      I enjoyed the read and the info, thanks!

      Love and peace


    • SteveoMc profile image

      SteveoMc 7 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      @danatheteacher I know what you mean. The one my son has is low cost, connects wirelessly and runs flawlessly, it even even plays avi's like they were HD. Love it.

    • danatheteacher profile image

      Dana Rock 7 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      There are so many of these "media players" I want to test/try before I buy. There needs to be petting zoos for electronics if you know what I mean ;)

    • SteveoMc profile image

      SteveoMc 7 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      @Wesman Todd Shaw LOL, Of Course I get it! The Big Lebowski, sort of classic right? I could use some of the "Dude's" BBQ right about now. You are anything but lame, entertaining is more like it. Off the wall, keeps everything from being on the wall. Much better perspective. Thanks for reading and for the perspective. I love it.

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 7 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      I have a brother who for all intents and practical purposes IS "THE DUDE" on the Lebowski flick. Hey, he can pick me up and throw me if he wants to.. . . .and he makes the best BBQ in the entire State of Texas-seriously, he wins awards for it. . .statewide.

      Sorry for the lame, off topic comment.

    • SteveoMc profile image

      SteveoMc 7 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      @Allan Douglas If you set it up as a work group, you should be able to play the DVD on your computer and watch it on your TV. We haven't tried hulu yet, but I told my son to figure it out, I have no doubt he will, you can define your own video feeds. I think you can do it. Thanks for stopping by.

    • SteveoMc profile image

      SteveoMc 7 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      @attemptedhumour LOL My wife is a Dinosaur, it ain't so bad. She always catches on after I put something in her hands and then she gets obsessive about it. Anything to get her to stop watching Nancy Grace!

    • Allan Douglas profile image

      Allan Douglas 7 years ago from Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

      So... which one do YOU like best Steve?

      I assume this thing would let me watch my selections on the TV? That'd be great! Now if I can just figure out how to hook the DVR into the computer network (it lives in my office which is a separate building from our house) then I wouldn't have to burn everything off to DVD-RW. Sounds like these are worth considering... Christmas is coming and I've been a good boy! Well, pretty good anyway.

    • attemptedhumour profile image

      attemptedhumour 7 years ago from Australia

      I still use the video player, but luckily my wife is not a Dinosaur so i'll give her a nudge as she loves new gadgets more than me. Um, more than i do. Cheers Steve.

    • SteveoMc profile image

      SteveoMc 7 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      @agusfanani Glad you liked it, thanks for visiting.

    • agusfanani profile image

      agusfanani 7 years ago from Indonesia

      That's a cool player and will help us enjoy more good times.

    • SteveoMc profile image

      SteveoMc 7 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      @justom LOL tired of all the gadgets? How can that be? Personally, I love all of em. This one is really cool too. I might have to drag you and wilderness into the modern age. Couple of fuddy duddies! Haha!

      @wilderness, see the comment above. Give me your wife's email. I want to let her know what she is missing.

      Thanks for the comments you guys.

    • wilderness profile image

      Dan Harmon 7 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      It sounds like some neat techie stuff, but not for me. I'm just not into movies (probably seen one this year) and the rest is find on my computer screen. My wife would probably enjoy it, though, so I better not let her see your hub! :)

      A good description, though, and it does sound pretty good for someone that would actually use it.

    • justom profile image

      justom 7 years ago from 41042

      Steveo, I like all your hubs but I'm pretty tired of too many gadgets. I have this thing, a 40" HD Plasma TV, a DVD player and my fav still, my surround sound for music. I just have a hard time with too much stuff that doesn't help me but makes me feel inept. FYI, my son is techie enough for both of us and sometimes my eyes just glaze over when he tries to explain something to me. It's not that I'm not interested but I have to see a need. Good hub though! Peace!! Tom

    • SteveoMc profile image

      SteveoMc 7 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      @moonvine It is really neat, and makes entertainment so easy....and on the TV. Thanks for stopping by and reading.

    • SteveoMc profile image

      SteveoMc 7 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      @Hello, Hello You are welcome, it is a cool thing. Not necessarily new, but just recently available as wireless and now streams like heck.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for introducing this new technology. Very well explained.