Finding the right media player for you
While there will always be a place in the market for the high-end media centre, the low-end of the market (price-wise) is being taken over.
The rise in popularity of the internet as a digital content delivery system has led the development of a vast selection of inexpensive, HDMI-equipped, Full HD media players that are capable of supporting a huge array of video formats.
This has in large started the commoditisation of the media centre market, as consumers begin to realise that for a few hundred dollars they can have quite an impressive array of functionality at their fingertips.
Uniden Australia is the Australian distributor of Buffalo products. Senior national marketing manager Brad Hales says, “We are living in a digital age where digital downloads including music, photos and high definition videos occupy most of our digital libraries. Media players bridge the gap between these libraries and home theatre equipment, allowing you to view and listen to content on devices that have been designed for these specific purposes.”
“By installing a media player, you could possibly reduce the amount of hardware that would otherwise be required to play such a diverse range of file formats, in turn keeping the home theatre area uncluttered. Further, Buffalo’s LinkTheater HD Media Player, for example, is ‘plug and play’, so it’s incredibly easy to set up. It simply plugs into a home network via an Ethernet cable, enabling access to all of your client’s digital files wherever they are located. Via the HDMI output port on the back, you can then view movie files in Full HD 1080P quality on a big screen TV.
“Flexibility is the key here. Buffalo’s LinkTheater supports a huge variety of new and old video, music and photo file formats, giving users the best chance that their files can be played. With its Ethernet port and two USB ports, it can also be connected to a huge variety of devices. So whether your content is hosted on the network or inside a camera, iPod or portable USB flash drive, if it’s connected to the LinkTheater it will be displayed to the best of a home theatre’s ability.”
Western Digital A/NZ senior sales manager Damian Hodge explains that a media player is capable of becoming a central hub in the 21st century home cinema, “buoyed by its abilities to play an array of movie file formats and simplified by neater cabling solutions, such as HDMI and the ability to integrate with storage.”
“A media player, like the WD TV Live, has a smaller footprint making it easier to integrate into a bigger ecosystem either hidden or as a central hub. Having a small footprint also makes them ideal for the bedroom or modern apartments. The networked capability of the WD TV Live also allows you meld the player into an existing wireless network for streaming videos.
“For media players to be effective it must be part of an ecosystem of networked storage and the internet. Once put together your client can watch movies, replay home videos, listen to music, watch photos or access YouTube from one source.”
So, what is the full potential of this technology?
According to Brad, “It’s hard to say where this technology will take us as the space evolves so quickly, however what is certain is that the digital media player will become as ubiquitous as the household DVD player is now – particularly as people get savvier about home networks.”
We here at Connected Home have had the opportunity to review a few of the leading players available now in Australia.