Roku 2 XS
Roku 2 XS

Best digital media player

For those interested in bringing streaming media from the Internet to their TV sets, experts say the Roku 2 XS provides a terrific blend of performance, usability and value. No digital media player offers as many online partners -- more than 400 channels of content (including games) and growing. New to this second-generation Roku player is the ability to play basic video games. Angry Birds is pre-loaded, and you can purchase additional games from a small library of titles for around $5 each. The included Bluetooth motion controller for games falls short of the one in the Nintendo Wii, but it works in a similar fashion. Picture quality is excellent, with support for 1080p resolution. The Roku 2 XS is the only device except for the Sony PlayStation 3 to support 1080p streaming and 5.1-channel surround sound from Netflix.
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*Est. $100 Estimated Price
Roku LT
Roku LT

Budget digital media player

For those on a budget, the Roku LT presents one of the best ways -- and certainly one of the most economical ways -- to get streaming content from the Internet to your living room TV. The big thing you give up compared to the Roku 2 XS is resolution as only 720p is supported. However, reports say that when watching streaming video on most TVs, the majority of users won't see a big difference. You can also forget about playing Angry Birds as the Bluetooth link needed by the Roku motion controller is not supported. Also missing are an Ethernet port for hard-wiring to your computer network (the Roku LT is Wi-Fi only), a microSD slot for adding more memory and a USB port for playing your own files. But, just like the pricier Roku players, you have more than 400 channels of content to choose from and set up and use are easy.
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Apple TV
Apple TV

Best digital media player for iTunes users

While Apple TV can't compete with the Roku 2 XS in its breadth of content providers, it does bring something unusual to the table -- tight integration with iTunes and the iTunes store. That makes it almost a no-brainer for those already invested in iTunes video, music and more. You can stream locally stored, iTunes-compatible files from your computer or stream content directly from the web. The AirPlay feature lets you share video and other media from an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch. The content lineup also includes Netflix and YouTube. Picture quality is good, and resolution has been stepped up to 1080p. The ability to play back purchased content (via iCloud) has also been added. Setup and use is as easy as pie.
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*Est. $100 Estimated Price
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