Thursday, 25 April 2013

Home Media Streaming

Ever wonder how to put your downloaded videos onto a television without hooking up your computer? Or maybe you followed a previous blog post of mine, packed up your DVD collection and have everything stored onto an external hard drive or USB drive. This post is sparked by my Uncle Jim who is a great man...but not the best with computers. He asked me how to put Netflix on his television without hooking up his laptop and to answer his question; there are many ways of doing so. And here it is, the top two media streaming devices that you will find...the Apple TV and the Western Digital TV Live (WDTV).

With the Apple TV you are apple to put your mac screen directly on your television and do some amazing things. NHL actually has an app, followed by a subscription, in which you can watch almost any game on your TV through your internet connection and there is a Netflix app as well. The Apple TV has a library in which you can rent/stream movies from an online iTunes database. This makes it a lot easier and cheaper than renting a film. You can also stream media from your Mac and PC's onto your TV, except they have to be a specific format. Apple loves MP4 formatted movies and the Apple TV does not let your stream other video formats. However, it does take everything from your iTunes on your computer which is a great organization tool. This makes it a lot easier to play music when people are over, as you do not have to worry about re-creating playlists on the device. Overall, without getting into a full review, the Apple TV is an amazing product even though it has its limitations. The extra features are handy, but are really only if you have a mac. The WDTV is a very competitive product.

The WDTV is amazing as you can get some apps such as MLB TV and Netflix with it. It makes for a great media streamer from macs and pcs on the same wireless network. The best part is that you stream a lot easier because it is not file format specific like the Apple TV and this means less converting. Basically, download a video or rip one as an mkv format and put it into the folder that is connected to your WDTV. I like this concept because some formats such as flv and avi are popular and readily available, but they take some time to convert to MP4. It is not the best music player in the world, as it cannot connect to iTunes directly, however, it will read many formats that the Apple TV will not. It is bad when it comes to making playlists and playing them on the WDTV, but if you want to do this, copy a playlist onto an usb stick and put it into one of the two available USB ports, this is a very large advantage as Apple TV does not have this feature. This means you can also put external hard drives into it as well to make it easier to play your movies. The WDTV also makes your regular external hard drive and USB sticks networkable and you can use it like a network storage device. Pretty handy if you ask me; think of all the room you can save on your pc and macs this way.

The short end of it is that the WDTV is more powerful with more features like USB ports and file compatibility. However, Apple TV is stronger with Apps and the Mac features, if you are a mac owner. If you are looking for video and Netflix, grab the WDTV; as it will play more with less hassle. If you are looking for the all-around multimedia experience and playing a lot of audio through your home stereo, purchase the Apple TV; just be aware that it doesn’t have USB ports and your computer must be on at all times.

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