Internet Streaming Home Video And Movie Player Review

Apple TV was released last year, and allows for the streaming of films and TV shows from the internet to your TV screen. Most of the content is controlled through the iTunes store, allowing the user to buy or rent TV shows and Movies from a number of different publishers. As well as iTunes, it is possible to watch content from YouTube and Netflix in the US.

What Apple TV does well is mainly based around usability. The display is clean and clear and very intuitive to use. The included aluminium remote control has a clickwheel like feel, which will be instantly familiar to anyone who owned an iPod. Unfortunately, the simplicity of the remote makes entering text a tricky and lengthy process. However, a neat feature is that if the consumer also owns an iPod touch or iPhone they can use its touch screen keyboard to enter text. Also using an iPod or iPhone device, the Apple TV menus can be navigated using swiping gestures on the touchscreen.

The iPod and iPhone connectivity doesn't end there. Using a feature called AirPlay, iPod touch and iPhone users can push video and music content from their mobile devices to their TV. This is useful if your TV is connected to an audio system, as you can browse your iPod library and select songs wirelessly from the handheld device.

One of the main competitors to the Apple TV is the Roku XDS. The Roku has been priced similarly to the Apple TV allowing for a direct comparison. Where the Roku has a distinct advantage is with the amount of content available. As well as Netflix, the Roku offers access to Amazon Videos on Demand, Hulu Plus and Pandora. It does lose out on iTunes content, but iTunes content, particularly when it comes to TV shows, can be a bit thin on the ground.

A second advantage is that the Roku can be used with any TV. The Apple requires a HMDI port but the Roku is just as happy with a standard definition TV, which is good news for those who are yet to upgrade. The user interface is easy to use, and comprises of channels, on for each content provider. There are around 100 in total, but they vary in usefulness.

There is a distinct tradeoff between the Roku and Apple TV. Those who already use many iDevices may feel more comfortable staying in the iTunes environment, and may see benefit in both AirPlay and the hope of future updates which further integrate thier mobile Apple devices with their fixed home theatre set-ups. The Apple device also offers a more slick and desirable look both in terms of hardware and software.

Having said that, the Rokus interface is still very useable, if not as attractive as that on the Apple. It also provides much more content than the Apple if you are looking for it to take some of the pressure away from your Sky box or even remove it completely.

In summary, both players are strong contenders and perhaps your choice depends on whether you prefer style or substance. Apple TV works nicely, but it is the Roku which allows for the most functionality.