The Internet has become the largest database of multimedia contents, whether free or subscription-based. With only a computer and Internet connectivity, everybody can now watch movies, videos, listen to radios, podcasts, and basically all types of entertainment contents easily via streaming services. Some providers, such as Netflix and Hulu, allow subscribers to purchase not only movies, but also TV show episodes and watch it directly on their computers. The only small drawback is that some laptops or tablets may not provide the same excitement that you get from watching on bigger screen HDTV, Luckily, streaming media players bring the possibility to display what you see on computer screen to TVs; some devices even make it possible for you to run wireless cable TV connection to any compatible media players at the same time. There are plenty of products with different features and specifications. Some of the most important things to consider before purchasing any streaming media player are listed below.
1. The availability of multimedia contents
Streaming media players can usually play movies or videos provided by popular services such as Netflix, Hulu, HBO GO, Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus, etc. Depending on what you need the most, please make sure that your streaming media player can play contents from the providers. If you mostly access contents from Netflix and Hulu, looking for devices that support their services are relatively easy. They are popular and accessed by many subscribers, so it is considerably easy to find the right device for you. Some players stream from YouTube and music services such as Last.fm; there are also others created for sports fans to watch ESPN, NFL, MLB.tv, and more.
2. File Format and Resolution
With computers, you can play all available multimedia formats of music, videos, and movies. Since you want to stream it to your HDTVs by using an additional streaming media player, make sure that the additional device supports any file format you use. Fortunately, some devices simply turn your HDTV into a second screen of your computer to do the entire streaming services. It means that regardless of the file format, your TV will be able to display it properly. That said you still have to consider the resolution. Most Internet streaming services provide high definition resolution, so it is best that your TV plays equally good audio/video quality. With HDTV that plays up to Full HD 1080p resolution, the media player should be able to stream uncompressed resolution for best quality. A less expensive alternative is also available in case you only need to stream the lower 720p resolution.
3. Subscription Type
Some people simply use their media players to stream movies or shows from one TV unit to another. In this case you may not need to use Internet connectivity at all. There are devices which allow you to stream movies from cable TV providers to more TV units wirelessly. It brings the possibilities to enjoy wireless cable TV connection without adding more subscription accounts. Such devices tend to be less expensive than their full-featured counterparts.
4. Connection Type
Wireless connection allows you to stream via WiFi, but cable connection via Ethernet is in most cases more stable and suitable for movie streaming. Please choose wisely depending on your home router bandwidth specifications. In case your network router has less than adequate WiFi capability, it is best to choose a streaming media player that connects to the router via Ethernet cable.
5. USB Port
In most cases, USB port is used for connecting an external hard drive to the media player; some products also offer built-in storage device. If you want to play personal multimedia contents such as photos or videos, please choose a streaming media player with such specification. It is also important that the device plays the file formats properly.
Compatibility plays major roles since it does not make any sense if you buy streaming media player that won’t work with the existing device in your home. Please make sure that the device is compatible with major operating systems such as Windows, OS X (iOS), and Android. You may also need to use certain apps to stream from and to different platform. Put in mind that some apps are free, while others are not.