The reign of physical media might be coming to an end. While DVD and Blu-ray discs will continue to line store shelves in the decade to come, they’re quickly losing ground to services like Netflix and On-Demand media provided through satellite and cable companies. The way in which people acquire and consume movies, music and television shows is rapidly evolving, and entertainment devices are evolving with it.
Streaming with consoles
Even if someone has been on board with every technological shift thus far, adapting to streaming media can still prove difficult. It’s only been within the last few years that Internet connection speeds have been fast enough to deliver HD content in real-time, and most people lack a device that’s already capable of streaming content. The exception to this are homes with a modern gaming console connected to their family’s television. Even the Nintendo Wii, which is a non-HD machine, can stream Netflix. Anyone with an Xbox 360 or a Playstation 3 is just a few steps away from enjoying the most popular streaming services in their living room. For everyone else, or for anyone that wants to use a service those devices don’t currently support, they’ll need a special box devoted to this task.
LAN or Wi-Fi?
The first consideration isn’t the most obvious: Can it connect to a Wi-Fi network or does it require a wired Internet connection? Everyone’s home is set up differently, and if the main computer isn’t in the same room as the television it can be a major hassle to physically connect devices to a router. As an example, neither of the two HD video game consoles have Wi-Fi connectivity built-in, but you can purchase wireless adapters. The Wii is Wi-Fi only; it can’t accept an ethernet cable, but the downside is that the connection may not be as fast and reliable as being directly plugged into the router. Each consumer has to determine their needs and the unique complexities of their setup so that they can be sure they’ll purchase a product that caters to them.
At this point HD televisions have become the standard. In fact, it’s difficult to find CRT and LCD SD televisions outside of garage sales and pawn shops as very few companies continue to manufacture them. That means that even in a household where a large SD TV is the entertainment centerpiece, an HD capable streamer is a must for anyone that wants to get the most out of their purchase. Luckily, as with televisions, very few companies produce streamers that aren’t HD ready, but the few bargain offerings that can’t stream in high-definition will cost more in the long run because they are already outdated and will need to be replaced within one or two years.
iTunes, Amazon, Netflix and others
Another consideration is the other devices within the household. Apple TV would be a bad choice for anyone that’s not already an Apple fan, but for anyone that gets most of their media through iTunes and possesses multiple Apple devices it’s an invaluable addition to their network. It offers fewer streaming options than competing products, but it connects with other Apple hardware to enable seamless transitions from televisions to iPads to MacBooks and so on. A movie or show begins in the living room and ends in bed on the user’s iPad.
No other company can currently offer that level of connectivity, but in a couple of years this will be commonplace so there’s no need for PC users to switch just to take advantage of it now. In the meantime, other streaming boxes offer access to a wide array of services including Amazon Video, Hulu, YouTube, Pandora, and Netflix, and while seamlessly switching from one device to another may not be the standard, media integration is. A good streaming box should be capable of taking files from the user’s PC and playing them through the main entertainment center. Mobility of content should not come at a premium, so the best box and the best service will not only offer access to all current and future streaming services, it will let the user enjoy what they’ve already purchased on their terms.
If your looking to convert your unstreamable video into a format that is easily streamable then be sure to look at our DVD to Video converter reviews for 2012.
The article was written by Quatrix Antennas, a Sydney based company, specialising in home and office antenna installations.