Media Players 2012

Every year around the holidays I sit down and look at my media hardware and see if there’s anything I should upgrade and/or replace.  I thought I’d do some public brainstorming this year in case anyone else might be interested.

My Current Setup

  • We cut the cable years ago so we have no cable or satellite.  We will subscribe again if there’s ever an opportunity to pay per channel or pick the channels we subscribe to.  We don’t mind the commercials, it’s all the extra crap.
  • We have a dedicated WHS with 4TB of space, most of which is used to host the videos we stream to the TVs
  • We have two WDTVs which we use mainly to stream video from the server to the TVs, but also for streaming Netflix and TuneIn Internet Radio.
  • Our big screen in the living room has the sole Blu-Ray player in the house, but all the other TVs have a DVD player.  We rarely use media because we’ve ripped all our DVDs with makeMKV onto the server thanks to my 3-year-old breaking half the discs… this includes the Blu-Ray media, although the larger Blu-Ray files do tend to skip over the wireless when streaming so on occasion we do toss in the disc.
  • We have an antenna on the roof for reception of all the local HD channels.  This could improve… although we do get some, I’d like to get several others, but would need a different antenna for that.

What I want to do and/or improve and I’m following:

  • Microsoft’s IPTV for he nextgen xbox is looking promising, but it’s clearly not available yet and if it’s setup that I have to pay for a Gold subscription to get service like I did to get Netflix, I’m out (which is why I sold the one I had).  And maybe I’m the minority, but I hate the new Metro UI that will plague the xbox, windows phones and Windows 8 alike.  Like I said, I’m eager to subscribe to the channels I want, preferrably streaming the live broadcast in HD.  I am completely stumped as to why each network hasn’t setup it’s own apps/partnerships to do exactly just that… there’s far more money in it than cable or satellite… with no shared fees… they’re getting ALL the money straight from the consumer.
  • The Wii-U looks nice, but it’s not going to offer anything I don’t already have.  Unless there’s a Blu-Ray player so I can combine everything in my living room, I’m simply not interested.  I’m not interested in the PS3 either which has been plagued with more software problems than I care to deal with… ever… and it’s LOUD.
  • The new WDTV really isn’t much of an upgrade from what I already have.  Same goes for the AppleTV, and I really don’t buy into the whole Apple culture thing (no iTunes, iPhone, etc.) so it wouldn’t benefit me all that well either.  I certainly don’t want built in storage on the device.
  • The Popcorn Hour products look like what I want in regards to how I referenced the Wii-U, but I’ve heard nothing but problems with the boxes and it doesn’t look too “future promising” in terms of offering streaming TV channels or anything else for that matter.
  • I like the WDTV much better than the Boxee Box so don’t even bring that one up.
  • I have a Roku box, but it sits unused in my pile of old electronic junk.  Love it, but it just doesn’t offer enough without the Blu-Ray player and there’s just not enough community support behind it.  Cut some deals with HD live streaming broadcast channels and I’m back in.
  • Now GoogleTV looks promising and pretty nice, but unless it can be a viable alternative to actual television, add a blu-ray player and offer streaming from my WHS, I’m not too interested.  I find “on-demand” videos a HUGE turn-off and I won’t watch them (I’m convinced no one else does either).  Stream the live broadcast or don’t even bother.  I do like the idea of using my Droid phone as a remote.

Oddly enough, if someone could actually manage all the features I wanted, the price is pretty irrelevant… I’ll take two!  And I know what I want seems pretty far fetched, but it kind-of irritates me that in this day and age it hasn’t been done, because I know it CAN be done.  I’ve waited over ten years to get where I am so I can certainly willing to wait a little longer.  So what am I getting this year for 2012?  I think the answer’s clear… more storage for the server. :)

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