Guide to buying media players

March 1, 2015

Streaming media players turn your TV into a smart TV, so you can stream videos or music from all kinds of services. They’re cheaper than buying a brand new internet TV but can perform just as well. Here's how to choose the media player that will work best for you.

Guide to buying media players

Types of Media Players

There are several different types of media players available.

Streaming box: A simple streaming box usually has enough storage for a few streaming services or has a couple hardwired in for basic internet capabilities. They don’t usually allow internet browsing, but they’re the least expensive option available.

Combo console: These machines combine a Blu-ray/DVD player with a streaming box, so you can watch more media from more sources. Consider a combo box if you like to watch physical media, like DVDs and CDs, and stream content.

Game console: Most major gaming consoles sold today can use video and music streaming applications. This isn’t the most cost effective route, but they let you play the latest video games and stream your favourite TV shows.

Portable media player: Many portable devices, including tablets and smart phones, can use streaming services just like computers and TVs. Consider a portable media player if you’re going to be travelling or want to carry it around with you while you’re doing other things.

Media player features

Most media players come with additional features.

Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi-enabled streaming boxes can use your local Wi-Fi network to access the Internet, cutting down on the cords surrounding your entertainment unit.

USB ports: A USB media player will sometimes let you plug in portable hard-drives and extra peripherals. That way, you can move media from your other devices to play on your TV or plug in a wireless keyboard to make internet browsing easier.

Menu usability: Your streaming box will come with a remote to navigate its menu. Look for easy-to-use buttons and intuitive menus that let you easily access the content you want.

Internet browsing: Most streaming boxes are focused on content streaming, but some will also have Internet browsers that let you surf the web and maybe download extra apps and content.

Factors to consider

Not all streaming services that are in the US are available in Canada, so take care to sign up for services you can actually use. Do some research so you aren’t paying for services you can’t use. Remember that content availability changes from country to country.

Media players can bring your TV into the 21st century. Look for the TV media player that works for best your budget and the types of content you want to access.

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