Apple TV, Google TV, and Other Digital Media Players

Roku XD|S & Western Digital TV

Roku XD|S
Roku was one of the first Digital Media Players that came on to the market in 2008. This year, Roku has released a new version of their device, known as the Roku XD|S. Along with the Roku HD and Roku XD, the Roku XD|S will let you stream Netflix, watch Amazon Video on Demand, tune into Pandora, and access dozens of other media providers Roku has partnered with.

However, unlike Apple TV and Google TV, none of the Roku models will provide you with access to media you have on your home computer. Roku’s other models, the HD and the XD, both feature wireless, HD video playback (720p for the Roku HD and 1080p for the XD) and have HDMI outputs, but the Roku XD|S includes a USB port, dual-band wireless, and component video for older TVs. All three Roku boxes come with a remote control.


Roku HD
  • Retails for $59.99 from Roku.com.
  • High-definition video playback at 720p.
  • Roku’s most basic Digital Media Player.

Roku XD
  • Retails for $79.99 from Roku.com.
  • High-definition video playback at 1080p.
  • Better HD quality video, streams faster with enhanced 802.11N wireless.

Roku XD|S
  • Retails for $99.99 from Roku.com.
  • High-definition video playback at 1080p, includes a USB port for hooking up external devices.
  • Roku’s most feature-filled Digital Media Player.

Western Digital TV
Similar to the way Roku has developed their product line, Western Digital has also come out with a trio of small Digital Media Players. Both the WD TV Live and the WD TV Live Plus include relatively the same features, but the top of the line version, the WD TV Live Hub, includes a 1TB hard drive you can use to store all your digital media.

The WD TV includes a number of online services you can use to view video, pictures, and music, but the list is not as robust as many of the other devices we’ve looked at. Certain versions of the WD TV even exclude certain content other models offer – you cannot, for example, stream Netflix with the cheaper WD TV Live model which is something you can do with its more expensive counterparts. Pandora, Flickr, Youtube, and Live365, however, are channels supported across all three devices. The WD TV will also let you stream content from an external hard drive, media player, or home network.


WD TV Live.
  • Retails for $129.99 at Amazon.com.
  • High-definition playback at 1080p.
  • Can access Youtube, Flickr, Pandora, and Live365 online services.

WD TV Live Plus.
  • Retails for $149.99 at Amazon.com.
  • Supports streaming Netflix, high-definition playback at 1080p.
  • Can access Youtube, Flickr, Pandora, and Live365 online services.

WD TV Live Hub.
  • Retails for $199.99 at Amazon.com.
  • Features a 1TB hard drive for storing your media; supports streaming Netflix and 1080p.
  • Can access Youtube, Flickr, Pandora, Live365, Mediafly, Facebook and Accuweather online services.

Final Words
With access to so much online content, these boxes are working to unite all the information we have started to spread across several devices, which is an idea many may find useful. If you’ve wanted access to all the content available on the Internet, but wanted to view it on a larger screen, you should seriously consider a Digital Media Player.

Choosing the right one depends on your budget and needs. In terms of features alone, Google TV seems to currently have a leg up on the competition, but its price tag also may have you considering if all the features are worth the extra money you’ll ending up paying. Apple TV allows you access to its extensive iTunes store and gives you more than one rental option. If you’re just looking for a box that can access YouTube and Netflix, you may want to consider one of the Roku or WD boxes. Figuring out just what you’d like to be able to access from your television should lead you to the kind of capabilities you’ll need from your Digital Media Player.


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November 16, 2010
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