Digital Media Players: Ratings of Sources
Total of 14 Sources
For an explanation of how we rank reviews, see our ratings criteria page.
Digital Media Receivers
by Editors of CNET
Our AssessmentCNET reviews lots of set-top boxes for getting streaming media from the Internet, or in some cases your computer, to your living-room TV. Testing is hands-on and comprehensive, and reviews are revisited from time to time to reflect changes in the competitive landscape. Two Roku digital media players -- the Roku 2 XS and Roku LT -- distinguish themselves enough to earn Editors' Choice awards.
by Editors of PCMag.com
Our AssessmentPCMag.com reviews set-top digital media players on a fairly regular basis. The current Apple TV earns Editors' Choice recognition; it's the same as the old Apple TV save for the addition of 1080p, but it is still called "one of the best ways to watch your videos on your HDTV" by Will Greenwald. While the more robust Roku 2 XS draws a so-so review here, the Roku LT earns an Editors' Choice for being easy to set up and low cost. The Western Digital WD TV Live Hub is similarly honored for its ability to stream from the net, stream from your computer, and store and organize tons of multimedia files.
Top 5 Media Streamers
by Melissa J. Perenson and Yardena Arar
Our AssessmentWhile the write-ups here aren't as detailed as those offered by some other reviewers, they are balanced and reflect hands-on testing. The five best set-top digital media streaming boxes as determined by the site's editors are included on this list. Most receive a similar rating, but the D-Link Boxee Box lands on top as best media streamer. Despite some ongoing bugs, it's called the "most full-featured and user-friendly set-top box around." The Roku 2 is reviewed separately and earns a 4-star rating for its ability to stream lots of free and subscription content. Coverage of the latest Apple TV is limited to a hands-on look from sister publication, Macworld.
by Editors of Wired
Our AssessmentWired looks at digital media players in reports that might not always be as exhaustive as those from other sites, but they are still technically competent and often fun to read. Apple's latest take on the Apple TV earns it a solid 8 or "Excellent, with room to kvetch." The addition of 1080p support is a plus; the lack of services compared to other boxes is a minus. The Western Digital WD Live Hub, which includes a 1 TB hard drive, and the WD Live, which does not, also earn 8s. The smaller number of providers than the Roku digital media players is noted, but so is the fact that the WD Live devices make it easy to stream content from your PC to your TV. The Roku 2 XS scores one point less; it is said to be improved just enough from its predecessor to retain its position as one of the "pre-eminent media streamers."
Gadgets: Home Entertainment
by Editors of Time
Our AssessmentTime magazine's Techland section covers a host of digital devices, services and software, including set-top digital media players. Reports are detailed (some more so than others) and testing-based, but they are written in a way that won't turn off nontechies. On the downside, digital media players aren't rated, and you need to browse or search to find the reports. Most recently, Matt Pecham says that the updated Apple TV looks a lot like the old one, but with 1080p support. Separately, and in a report that doesn't detail what testing is done, the Roku LT and Roku 2 XS share the seventh spot in a list of the Top 10 Gadgets for 2011.
by Editors of AnandTech.com
Our AssessmentThis technology-centric website is a must-visit for those who need to learn every detail about digital media streamers; some reviewers even tear open the case for a look at the circuitry inside. Other readers might consider the site to be information overload. Still, reports are meaty, players are extensively tested and opinions are offered. We would rate this site higher if media players were rated or ranked.
How Set-Top Boxes Compare
by Editors of ConsumerReports.org
Our AssessmentHere, ConsumerReports.org posts information about digital media players from the magazine's March 2011 print edition. Four set-top video streaming devices are briefly discussed: Apple TV (which has been upgraded), D-Link Boxee Box, Logitech Revue and Roku XDS (since replaced by the Roku 2 XS). Pros, cons and "best for" opinions are provided, but no best overall digital media player is named. Unlike some information on the site, this report can be read by nonsubscribers. Separately, ConsumerReports.org has a fresh evaluation of set-top digital streamers in the works, but it shares its impressions of the new Apple TV in its free blog.
Guide to Internet Home Theater and Network Media Players
by Robert Silva and Barb Gonzalez
Our AssessmentThis landing page is the home for coverage of digital media players at About.com. You'll find lots of basic information about buying and using a digital media player from About.com guide Robert Silva and About.com contributing writer Barb Gonzalez, along with lists of some of the best choices. The Western Digital WD TV Live Hub receives some of the strongest praise, while the previous version of Apple TV is called the best choice for Mac and iPhone users. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)
by Editors of Macworld
Our AssessmentThough Macworld disappointingly "borrows" some coverage from sister publication PC World, the editors here provide some of their own reviews of digital media players that are fairly worthwhile. Testing is done and comparisons are made on occasion. Apple TV is the subject of an early look and some good informational articles, but it has not been formally reviewed.
Cutting Loose: Connected TV for Everybody Editors of Sound+Vision
by Michael Berk
Our AssessmentSound+Vision magazine looks at the Western Digital WD Live digital media player as part of an article on cord cutting. Michael Berk notes some flaws, but he adds that it is full featured and easy to use. The Roku 2 XS is covered in a hands-on report that provides some insight into its new gaming abilities, but little else. A comparative report that looks at several digital media players is too old to be helpful.
The Roku 2 Review
by Dave Zatz
Our AssessmentDave Zatz looks at three of the latest versions of the Roku digital media player in this lengthy review. The Roku HD is called "a solid upgrade over its predecessor," and one of the cheapest ways to bring "over the top" streaming content from partners such as Netflix to a TV that lacks other streaming options. The Roku 2 XS is also praised, for its added capabilities, though Zatz says there are lots of other good options at the same price. He sees no reason for anyone to opt for the middle member of the family, the Roku 2 XD. Thought Zatz does not extensively test the Apple TV, he says that despite the recent update, Roku still earns his recommendation.
Digital Media Devices
by Contributors to Amazon.com
Our AssessmentAmazon.com is a good destination for owner reviews of digital media players. Though not all get lots of feedback, a few attract hundreds of comments. The new Roku 2 devices draw mostly good reviews, though the Roku LT edges ahead. Apple TV scores similarly, though the newest version has far less feedback.
HD + Home
by Editors of The Verge
Our AssessmentThe Verge hosts digital media player reviews and news, though finding specific articles can be a challenge at times. Its report on the latest Apple TV is nicely detailed. Joshua Topolsky reaches conclusions that closely echo those of other experts: Ease of set-up and use plus support for 1080p are welcome, but content still trails competitors.
Apple TV Review (2012)
by Scott Lowe
Our AssessmentScott Lowe calls the latest version of Apple TV "a solid update that still falls short of the competition." Limited content compared to other digital media players is why. Further, since most of the improvements to iTunes software are available to owners of the previous version, the 1080p support is the only benefit for upgraders.