Products that Make Your TV Smart
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In typical US homes, the main HDTV is a Full HD (1080p) model, but it does not have the ability to stream content from the Internet, limiting your viewing choices to the offerings of your service provider, be it either broadcast, cable or satellite.
If you already have a high speed Internet connection, adding a Digital Media Player or a Blu-ray disc player with a streaming content feature will convert almost any legacy HDTV into a Smart TV, enabling instant viewing of TV programs and movies from services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and Vudu. You may even find you can cut your cable bill.
So check out HD Guru's picks for media players and Blu-ray players that can make your TV smart.
Media Players and Smart Blu-ray Players
Media players are small boxes that connect to your HDTV, (typically via an HDMI cable) and provide access to thousands of movies, TV shows and other content. Top selling models are offered by Roku, Western Digital and Apple TV. The top selling Smart Blu-ray Players are made by Panasonic, Sony, LG and Samsung .
Roku offers movies and TV programs from Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant Video. (Amazon Prime members [$79.99 year] get free downloads of thousand of movies from Amazon Instant plus free two day shipping on any item from Amazon direct).
Roku comes in three flavors. The entry level Roku HD Streaming Player ($59.99 on Amazon.com) outputs 720p HD and has built-in Wi-Fi. The step-up Roku 2 XD ($76 on Amazon.com) will stream content up to 1080p Full HD resolution. The top-of the line Roku 2 XS ($96 on Amazon.com) adds an enhanced RF remote control for games, a full edition of the Angry Birds game and an Ethernet port for wired Internet connection.
The Apple TV MD199LL/A ($99 on Apple.com) is probably the best known media player. Unlike the previous model, the updated version will now output up to 1080p. You get Netflix as well as the iTunes Store to buy or rent TV shows and movies. It also permits streamed content including music from iTunes on your computer. Other streamers offer more movie services. The Apple TV sells for $90.98 from Amazon direct.
Western Digital makes two models. The entry version WD TV Live ($89.99 on Amazon.com) offers Netflix, Blockbuster and Hulu plus movie and TV services. The Western Digital WD TV Live Hub 1 TB Media Center ($169.99 on Amazon.com) adds a 1 terabyte hard drive for storing your own photos and home videos.
Top Selling Smart Blu-Ray Players
The Panasonic DMP-BDT220 ($129.99 on Amazon.com) is a 3D ready Blu-ray player and includes built-in Wi-Fi. Panasonic offers movie and TV content from Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu plus, CinemaNow and Vudu as well as apps, music, Skype video calls (with optional camera) and social networks. The LG BD670 3D Wireless Network Blu-ray Disc Player with Smart TV ($89.99 on Amazon.com) offers movie and TV content from Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu plus, Cinema Now and Vudu. This is a 2011 model.
The Sony BDP-S390 Blu-ray Disc Player with Wi-Fi ($109.99 on Amazon.com) includes movie and TV content from Amazon Instant, Hulu plus, Video Unlimited, Netflix, Cinema Now, Vudu and the Sony Movie Channel. The Sony BDP-S590 3D Blu-ray Disc Player with Wi-Fi ($114.99 on Amazon.com) offers the same streaming services as the S390 and adds 3D playback capability. The Samsung BD-E5900 3D WiFi Blu-ray Disc Player ($113.53 on Amazon.com) offers movies and TV programs from Netflix, Hulu plus, Vudu, Blockbuster and Cinema Now in addition to apps and an Internet Browser.