Serve HDTV Up Right With These Media Streamers

Photograph by Greg Bloom

There’s now a veritable all-you-can-eat buffet of HDTV available. You just need the right media streamer to serve up the goods.

1. Logitech Revue

Supercharged with Google TV, the Revue grabs content via the web, cable, or apps and aggregates it all in a slick menu system. Search for Daily Show and you get everything from 15-second YouTube clips to full episodes on Comedy Central. You can even record directly to your DVR. It can multitask, too: Need to settle a debate on whether Shaq was ever on Curb Your Enthusiasm? Check IMDB without interrupting SportsCenter. This isn’t a novelty act; it’s the future of TV.

WIRED Kicks down walls between Internet and cable content. Keyboard controller doubles as a universal remote for A/V components. Up to 1080p resolution. HDMI cable? Included!

TIRED Huge keyboard screams PC, not TV.

Early-adopter price tag. $300,

Rating: 8 out of 10

2. Apple TV

Smaller and cheaper than its predecessor, the second-gen Apple TV is also, unfortunately, less capable. Not that Mac addicts will care: The handsome black slab looks cool in any entertainment center, and usability is decent—provided you like getting all your content through iTunes and Netflix. But minor annoyances abound. The lack of a hard drive means you can only rent, not buy, content, and the pack-of-gum-sized remote is better at raising blood pressure than pulling up menus.

WIRED Superb design. Setup so easy Australopithecus afarensis could do it. Plays nice with other products—so long as they were conceived at One Infinite Loop.

TIRED Don’t like iTunes? Too bad. Resolution tops out at 720p. Wi-Fi streaming sometimes stutters.


Rating: 6 out of 10

3. Western Digital TV Live Hub Media Center

This little box is pure geek bait. Besides dual USB ports and automatic syncing for PC and Mac, the Live Hub flaunts an enormous 1-TB hard drive. Try maxing that out. We fed it our Back to the Future, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings trilogies, plus 40 gigs of music, and barely made a dent. Streaming from Netflix or Blockbuster on Demand is fraught with buffering hiccups, though, and the clunky menu, revamped from previous WD streamers, is a chore to navigate; cool features get lost in the backwaters of the interface.

WIRED Even Torrent junkies will be hard-pressed to fill drive. Surprisingly easy to sync with Wi-Fi networks.

TIRED Labyrinthine OS obscures some of the best apps. Blockbuster on Demand … really?


Rating: 6 out of 10

4. Seagate GoFlex TV HD

What offended us most about this train wreck? Not the chintzy chassis—after all, looks aren’t everything. It wasn’t the fuzzy video or inconsistent sound quality, either. Those were actually bearable after navigating the bewildering menus. No, the worst thing about the GoFlex is the wait. We had to press buttons repeatedly, occasionally three or four times, to operate any of the streamer’s functions. If there’s a God watching, he’ll either bestow a firmware update to fix this mess or smite every Seagate GoFlex in existence.

WIRED Setup is fairly straightforward. Supports 1080p video. Slot for loading a Seagate hard drive.

TIRED No hard drive included. System is glacially slow. Are those buttons on the remote just decorative?


Rating: 2 out of 10

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