We covered the set top box wars close to a year ago, but since then things have changed. We have 2nd gen devices, extreme price cuts and refining software updates. We thought now would be a good time to revisit the set top box landscape.
- Logitech Revue with Google TV - With so much promise, last year Google TV was supposed to take over our living rooms. Unfortunately, Logitech Revue sales didn't live up to expectations. Logitech reduced the price of the Revue by nearly 70%, making the Revue the same price as an Apple TV and Roku XS. The big difference between the Revue and its competitors, however, is how it connects to your TV. The Revue has an HDMI passthrough, so you can still watch TV and not have to sit in silence while browsing through Netflix. It stays on the same input so getting to online content is quick and seamless. With its price drop and upcoming app store, the Revue should still be a strong contender if you're looking for a set top box.
- Apple TV - Apple just released their 4.3 firmware update for Apple TV yesterday, adding iCloud compatibility to their $99 set top box. Before this update, you were only able to rent videos—now you can purchase television shows and store them in iCloud, giving you unlimited storage for TV purchases via iTunes. This gives you more incentive to purchase full seasons of television shows on iTunes since you'd be able to stream all the shows you own.
- Roku - The Roku box is now in its 2nd generation. It's been slimmed down and is now similar in size to an Apple TV. The 2nd gen Roku is also more energy efficient with a reasonable pricetag. The new Roku XS ($99) adds a gaming remote, so you can play games like Angry Birds. However if that's more than you need and you just want to be able to watch Netflix, OnDemand movies and internet videos, you'd have a hard time finding a cheaper set top box than the Roku HD ($59).
- Boxee - Boxee has had a few updates in the past year, most noticeably the addition of Vudu for purchasing/renting movies. However, the most exciting thing to come from Boxee is the ability to purchase the Boxee remote by itself, so you can have the Boxee box remote experience on other DIY Boxee devices.