This year, a number of retailers are offering a variety of Digital Media Players. These players are nothing more than a box that has firmware that offers streaming functionality that your Blu-ray player or TV might also offer. If your Blu-ray player or TV offers this functionality, we suggest that you explore it before purchasing a digital media player.
The cheapest of the cheap are just that: cheap. The $39 RCA Streaming media player at Walmart sounds like a great deal on the surface, but the DSB772WE lacks so many features we can’t recommend it, even at that price. It does offer Netflix, VUDU, Hulu Plus, and YouTube support, but it lacks the quality features found in other units.
Our pick of the best of the best in streaming media players is the Roku XS, which is the top of the line in Roku streaming media players. The XS offers the most connectivity options, including both wired and wireless Ethernet. Roku also offers a $49 LT unit that, while stripped down, offers much better support and performance than the RCA and for just $10 more. It should be pointed out that the Roku players also offer casual gaming support and some of the players even right now include Angry Birds. (Sorry, no Angry Birds for the $49 Roku player!)
No discussion would be complete on this subject without talk of the Apple TV. For $99 you can enjoy everything that the Apple TV has to offer, and for $99 it does make a compelling case for an excellent player option. It is, however, dominated by iTunes and rentals which are a big part of this unit. Still, if you are an Apple fan this might be the best way to go; but be careful that you understand what you are locking yourself into.