TV Set Top Box Wars: It's On Like Donkey Kong, Baby

TV Set Top Box Wars: It's On Like Donkey Kong, Baby

Anthony Nguyen
Sep 2, 2010

My, my. Look what Mr. Jobs brought us yesterday. A $99 Apple TV that does the same thing as what my $70 Roku box did years ago. Boxee's Avner Ronen spikes up their D-Link sponsored Boxee Box to $199, promising freedom to watch whatever we want. Meanwhile, Logitech watches on the horizon with their Google TV-integrated Revue box. Watch out folks, this one might get ugly.

APPLE TV: We're going to go ahead and call the new Apple TV "G2." So ATV G2 delivers quite the value package on features. You get AirPlay, a new standard they're pushing to allow you to stream stuff all over the place to your iDevices (kind of like dLNA, but reversed). You get Netflix, a couple of studios on board, and the ability to stream stuff converted from your networked PCs in iTunes. What you don't get is to keep your shows after buying them nor as many options as...

ROKU BOX: The Roku box lets you stream Netflix, Amazon Video on Demand, Pandora, and MLB.TV. Oh, and it's $30 cheaper for the Roku HD box compared to Apple TV. What you don't get is the nice Apple-supported streaming ability between devices and the ability to stream files from your networked PCs.

LOGITECH REVUE: Not too much info on this guy until we hear more details.

BOXEE BOX: We've been in love with the Boxee interface for a long time. It's intuitive, fun to use, and the best part is that it's free to install on any old Apple TV, Mac Mini, or junk PC you got laying around. The dedicated Boxee Box, however, is a different story. Sold by D-Link, Boxee Box is planned to sell for $199, nearly $100 above its anticipated price. That's almost the price of a netbook! Yeah, we're not feelin' the price here, guys.

WDTV or SEAGATE FREEAGENT THEATER+: These boxes are geared towards media junkies with tons of formats that no other set top box can decode. Their interface aren't super fabulous or anything, but they get the job done and for cheap - they run around $99.

GAME CONSOLES: Owners of PS3's, Xbox 360's, or Wii's already have their Netflix fix built-in (though some are temporarily requiring discs for the service right now, this is set to change down the line) in addition to dLNA support for media NAS's and ability to play a number of popular media formats wirelessly from local networked PCs. Most of these platforms also offer TV shows and movies from a dedicated online store. While many of the interfaces on consoles don't translate very well for extensive video browsing and watching, it sure beats throwing down hundreds more for a device that pretty much does the same thing with a more attractive UI.

The way we see it, the new Apple TV and Roku seem to be geared towards individuals who just wanna get media on their TVs in an easy and intuitive way. Boxee, WDTV, and other dLNA media server streaming software seem to be geared towards media enthusiasts with tons of formats, huge libraries, and a big appetite for everything consumable on the Internet.

The question is... which camp are you in? And, if we gave you a hundred bones, which set top box would you rather throw your bet on?

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