With home media streaming devices on the rise the features available to consumers will continue to increase. This is why I have decided to write an article on the importance of choosing the right device to meet your needs. By looking at the media streaming device it may appear that it has Wi-Fi capabilities accompanied with the ability to stream Netflix and Pandora so you assume you are all set. If these are the only features you are after then that’s great and by all means make the purchase. My only regret would be that there probably is a media streaming device out there at the same price point that will offer more features. Therefore media streaming devices are capable of doing much more than Netflix, YouTube, and Pandora. Three aspects that I will cover in detail are supported media file formats the device can read, importance of USB ports, and automatic media categorization.
The biggest challenge used to be finding a media streaming device outside your PC that offered the ability to play your entire media collection. Now consumers have many options to choose from allowing a multitude of selections. For this example I will compare both the Boxee Box and Roku supported media file formats. With both the Roku and Boxee Box offering a great selection of application and the ability to stream Netflix, there is still a huge gap with the number of supported media file formats built in. The Roku offers only 3 supported media file formats versus the Boxee Box at 21. This is a huge gap in supported media file formats and if you have a personal media collection there is a high chance the Roku cannot meet your needs. One more notable point is these supported media file formats cannot be updated. As nice it would be like it is on your PC going to a website and installing a file, these devices do not have this ability. Both Boxee Box and Roku are excellent products, but at the same point it is up to you to decide which is a better fit for your home media center.
Most devices these days offer USB 2.0 ports that will work just fine for any home media collection. Something to keep in mind is the number of USB ports that the product offers. When I first started my media collection, before the invention of NAS devices, I used to keep movies and music on just about any storage device I could find then plug it into my computer. Fortunately with today’s technology there are NAS devices to help us keep our collection all in one place on our network. If you are new to the hobby you would probably look at eight terabyte NAS and say that’s crazy I could never fill that up. Well… Let me just say you may get there sooner than later. So getting back to my original point you probably will purchase an external hard drive to begin your collection. If you have only one USB port you will find yourself spending countless hours transferring data to a larger drive when it fills up. With a second or third USB port you can just plug in another hard drive without interruption. The obvious answer is to purchase a NAS device with expandable bays, but this is a costly expense and if you are just getting your feet wet with the hobby this option might not be realistic.
Something Boxee and XBMC have done extremely well is the ability to categorize your media collection. Let me give you an example that explains what I am talking about. In your media collection you have The 40-Year-Old Virgin on your storage device. Once you direct Boxee or XBMC to that file source it will detect your movie and add it under the movie section. Once in the movie section a picture will be applied of the movie cover with information about the movie and often trailers. As your collection grows each movie will be added giving you the ability to categorize to your liking. The benefit of automatic media categorization is that you don’t have to search through files to find what you want. With this you have the ability to give your collection a visual appeal accompanied with information that is imported from different sources on the internet.
I hope you have enjoyed my article on choosing the right home media streaming device. If there is anything else you would like me to cover that wasn’t in my article please let me know. For information and discussion on home media centers please see http://www.homemediaspot.com Please make sure to like Home Media Spot on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.