For average users who find a HTPC (home theater PC) overkill, a simple do-it-all media player is often more than sufficient. Nowadays, media players are no longer just a simple playback device. Many media players now tout the ability to stream from online TV and radio stations. Some can even browse the Web and hook up to social networks, thus becoming a credible alternative to the more expensive Internet-enabled TV. And recently, vendors have using Android as their devices’ OS, thus opening up a world of apps to the user.
As many media players now don't have an internal hard disk, when buying one, make sure it has the right connections or services that will allow you to access your media content. Does it have a USB port; is one enough? Do you need a card reader? Is it DLNA compliant, so that you can get to files residing on other DLNA-enabled devices? What network sharing functions does it have? What online services does it support? Are there any hidden costs such as service subscription fees?
Also, know that support for most popular formats shouldn't be taken to mean support for all formats. If there's a particular video format that you always play, it's wise to scrutinize the specs sheet to ensure that it indeed is supported. Better yet, we highly recommend bringing some test files to try them on the spot.
The AC Ryan Playon! HD 3D media player supports full 3D HD playback including BD-ISO and has built-in WiFi and Gigabit LAN connectivity for easy sharing and transferring of media. The unit also comes with a 2TB hard disk and Citibank card members get an additional $10 off.
The ASUS O!Play Mini Plus is one of the best all-rounder media players available today. It supports a good variety of different video formats and plays full HD content smoothly. Also, it is equipped with both WiFi and Gigabit Ethernet connectivity, making it possible to stream content directly to unit.
The Western Digital Live Hub plays a wide variety of full HD video formats and is capable of streaming too with the optional USB wireless adapter. The unit also comes with a 1TB hard drive and can be had for significant discounts at Comex 2012 as it is going for $199 - much lower than its usual price of $329.