Streaming Device Reviews

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Barb Gonzalez  |  May 01, 2015  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $39

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Easy installation in any HDMI port
Straightforward, simple menus
ASAP technology loads full resolution videos instantly
Plenty of free content for Amazon Prime members
Minus
Missing some major apps including Vudu and M-Go
Global search favors Amazon results
Remote app is inconsistent and voice search may not work

THE VERDICT
A great streaming choice for Amazon Prime members, particularly those who travel.

In case the 3-inch-square Fire TV was too big for you, Amazon has released its follow-up to that high-performing streaming media player. Along with reducing size to fit on an HDMI dongle, Amazon has also reduced the price—to $39, versus $99 for the full-size Fire TV. While the Stick comes without the original’s built-in remote control microphone for voice search (a mic remote is an option) and uses a dual-core processor rather than a quad-core processor, the differences are hardly noticeable in use. Both Fire TVs make it easy for Amazon Prime members to stream over 40,000 free movies and millions of songs as well as access an unlimited number of personal photos stored in the Amazon Cloud. And the Stick’s small size and weight should make it perfect for tossing in your luggage for streaming in hotel rooms while traveling (assuming, of course, suitable Wi-Fi access).

Barb Gonzalez  |  Apr 08, 2014  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $99

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Effective voice search function
Powerful quad-core processor
ASAP feature loads movies for instant playback
HDMI CEC functionality
Minus
Voice search and watchlists not functional for all services
Limited on-demand video apps

THE VERDICT
Fire TV is a solid performer, but it needs more content and services, and a global search option, to make it a hit.

Amazon surprised the world last week by announcing the details of its new standalone media player, the Amazon Fire TV, on the very same day it was released for sale. Priced at $99, Fire TV is positioned to compete with the top-selling Apple TV and Roku 3 box.

Leslie Shapiro  |  Dec 23, 2013  |  1 comments
Hitting the market this late in the game, Amped Wireless better have something special with their BTSA1 Bluetooth speaker adapter. Yes, like so many other adapters, it lets you to turn any audio playback system into a Bluetooth-enabled system. But the adapter also delivers a few unexpected, and welcome, surprises.

Chris Chiarella  |  Jul 30, 2007  |  0 comments
Own an HDTV? Well, get ready for the age of ATV.

Let's recap: Al Gore created the Internet, and, on the seventh day, he rested. Immediately, entrepreneurs began selling pornography, and the World Wide Web had a purpose. Before long, people started posting videos of their dogs belching the national anthem, and, yet, an entertainment-hungry globe craved more. A bunch of other stuff happened, and now Apple has been selling songs, music videos, TV episodes, and feature-length movies via the iTunes Store,embedded in the free iTunes application for Mac and PC. While digital-rights management protects purchased video and audio (although this may be changing), you can enjoy it at the computer and upload it to various iPod portable devices. Still, a growing contingent yearns to relocate its premium content to the comfort of the living room with due ease and elegance.

Kim Wilson  |  Apr 14, 2011  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $99

At A Glance: Rent iTunes movies and TV shows • Stream Netflix content • View pictures galleries on Flickr and MobileMe • Extends Apple ecosystem with AirPlay

Getting content from our computers to the home’s main entertainment hub is like the Holy Grail. Some manufacturers have achieved it for a high price; others have achieved it poorly for a reasonable price. In the Apple ecosystem, Apple TV has allowed simple, inexpensive iTunes integration for years. The original model required you to sync with your computer but, the latest Apple TV (ATV2)—which is less than half the size of its predecessor—only streams content. You can easily stream whatever you have on your computer in the way of movies (created or ripped), photos and music to your A/V system over a wired or wireless network.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Oct 25, 2012  |  3 comments

802 Diamond Speakers
Performance
Build Quality
Value
 
W DB1 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
Price: $32,000 At A Glance: Clear, sparkling highs • Tight, extended bass • Broad, deep soundstage • Stunning fit and finish

If you’re unfamiliar with the British speaker company Bowers & Wilkins, perhaps that’s because it’s more commonly known simply as B&W. Founded in the mid-1960s by John Bowers and Roy Wilkins, it’s now one of the most respected loudspeaker manufacturers in the world, with products ranging from budget-priced to Olympic.

The 800 Diamond series is the third generation of Bowers & Wilkins’s most sophisticated range, with iconic looks that date back to the late 1990s. The 802 Diamond is one step down in price from the company’s current flagship, the $24,000/pair 800 Diamond. And while B&W’s lower-priced speakers, like most, are manufactured in China, the 800 is built in the company’s facilities in England.

Michael Berk  |  Jul 25, 2011  |  0 comments

Bang & Olufsen have announced the BeoSound 5 Encore, the baby brother of their BeoSound 5 music system.

Barb Gonzalez  |  Oct 16, 2014  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $90

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Well-designed remote app with mirroring mode
Uses phone’s accelerometer to control games
Multiple users can control same BiggiFi
Minus
Touchscreen remote mode takes practice
Slight lag time when using screenshot remote mode

THE VERDICT
A versatile streamer that’s fun for playing games.

Before the official Android TVs come on the market, several small companies have been making Android-streaming devices that connect to a TV. BiggiFi is the newest Android-on-a-dongle that connects to a TV’s HDMI port. Other than its strange name, and obvious English-as-a-second-language notifications, this smartphone-controlled device might be a good streaming stick choice for users who like to play smartphone apps on the big screen.

Barb Gonzalez  |  Aug 30, 2012  |  3 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $180 At A Glance: Includes Web browser • Connect to Slingbox via the Slingbox app • Direct access to movies from the Web, Vudu, or your own digital collection

The Boxee Box is unlike any other media streamer or media player. From its cockeyed box shape that’s missing a corner and its froglike logo, to its menu organization and social video-sharing features, it’s easy to see that Boxee stands out.

Michael Berk  |  Aug 09, 2011  |  0 comments

HTPC, PC, Mac, dedicated hardware, and now the iPad. Boxee continues to extend the footprint of its video interface software with its iOS application, a nifty little front end for the iPad. But don't expect a mobile version of the full Boxee experience.

Michael Berk  |  Dec 14, 2011  |  0 comments

Cable cutting. You've probably begun the process already, even if you haven't gone all the way - think about how often you turn to Netflix, or Amazon, or Hulu Plus. And despite the panicked efforts of networks and providers nationwide, when are you watching live TV, exactly, aside from sports?

Barb Gonzalez  |  Aug 07, 2015  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics

PRICE $130

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Three bands with automatic switching for greater dedicated bandwidth to individual devices
Fast, reliable streaming throughout home network
Two USB ports make hard drives accessible within home and remotely
Minus
Dashboard makes it hard to customize some settings
Automated band switching and QoS remove options to change settings to suit your needs
No backup or media management software

THE VERDICT
A speedy, reliable router that’s great if you accept its automatic settings.

As I’ve taken to streaming as much 4K video as I can from Netflix and Amazon, it was important to get the fastest router. Perhaps there’s something psychological about the candy-apple red glossy exterior that reminds me of a cross between a drag racer and a spaceship, or perhaps it was its impressive specs, but either way, I was inspired to try out D-Link’s DIR890L/R top-of-the-line tri-band router.

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Jan 23, 2015  |  2 comments

Denon HEOS 7 Speaker
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value

Denon HEOS 5 Speaker
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value

Denon HEOS 3 Speaker
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,148 as reviewed

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Stellar audio performance
Simple, intuitive app
Minus
No desktop controller
Fewer streaming services than Sonos

THE VERDICT
It’s not the first wireless multiroom sound system, but it certainly ranks among the best.

When I asked the folks at Denon why they felt the need to develop a multiroom, streaming music system, this was the answer they gave: “Probably for similar reasons why we developed the LP turntable and didn’t continue to manufacture gramophones.” That wasn’t quite the answer I was looking for, but it was an interesting way of putting a tangible perspective on the past 100-plus years that Denon has been involved in the audio industry.

In this day and age, it’s the rare person who sits at home enjoying selections from his or her collection of bulky spinning cylinders; streaming songs is what’s popular now. In fact, our collective propensity for listening to audio from the Internet or music stored on NAS drives and computers has resulted in wireless speakers of various kinds becoming the product du jour of nearly every audio manufacturer on the planet. So the question I really should have asked was how Denon thought they could build a system that would rise above the flood of streaming music speakers and systems on the market—and, specifically, how in the world Denon thought they could compete head to head with the Goliath of streaming music systems, Sonos.

Geoffrey Morrison  |  May 09, 2011  |  0 comments

DEFINING A NEW PRODUCT CATEGORY

I'm struggling with this: What do you call these things? Digital Media Streamers? Digital Media Receivers? How about media extenders, media streamers, or digital media adapters? Maybe Internet Streaming Devices? If you abbreviate that last one, it sounds a bit sinister. "Dude, I got an ISD." Annnnnnnd, you're on a list somewhere.

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Aug 31, 2016  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $15/month

AT A GLANCE
Plus
16 built-in tuners
Supports Netflix 4K UHD content
Minus
Non-backlit remote

THE VERDICT
In one simple-to-operate device, the Hopper 3 combines the best of satellite TV—including 4K support—with the most compelling aspects of internet streaming. When you also consider its extensive multiroom distribution capabilities, there’s not another home entertainment device that can match the category-bending Hopper 3.

If the new satellite receiver/DVR from Dish, the Hopper 3, were indeed merely a new satellite receiver/DVR, the chances of us reviewing it would be between slim and you’ve got to be kidding me. After all, this is the age of internet streaming and cord cutting—and linear TV is just soooo last century. Since this is actually a genuine review of the Hopper 3, I guess it’s not a spoiler to say that there’s more to this third-generation, whole-home satellite DVR from Dish than time-shifting network broadcasts.

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