I’ve got a couple Internet-connected devices here, including network media player boxes from Roku and Western Digital. They have individual strengths and weaknessess, but both share two features that I really like.
First, they let me access content on the Internet or on my other computers on the network. This gives me a nearly-endless supply of music and video content that I can enjoy without having to boot up a full-blown computer. This saves me time and money, and makes it easy for me to explore new content that I might not know about, such as genres of music that are not familiar to me. (I’m a big bluegrass fan, but I like to have a change of pace sometimes with a little jazz guitar, or perhaps a ska/reggae mix.)
The other fetaure that I love is the no-hassle upgrade process. In the early days of computers, you’d have to get updated programs on a disk, and then find the time to install and configure the updates. Now, the Internet delivers these upgrades to computers automatically if you want. The cool thing about network-attached entertainment devices is that they too can be updated automatically over the Internet. If the manufacturer makes a deal with a new content source, an automatic update of the network media player’s update means that the new choice will show up on your home menu. No muss, no fuss; I love it.
The fact is that the cost of processing power and its associated memory keeps dropping, which means that these network media players and other boxes are just going to get smarter and smarter. If you’ve been thinking about hooking up a personal computer to your HDTV, you might want to investigate a network-capable Blu-ray player, network media player, or other Internet-connected device and just see what they can do for you.