Help me pick an HD Media Player
November 10, 2010 8:48 AM   Subscribe

I'm about to buy an HD media player and I have a few questions for those of you who own one.

I'm interested in the Asus O!play, the WDTV Live Plus, and the BriteView CinemaTube Mini.

My wife is finally on board with buying an HD media player, since we currently watch movies and TV shows via a laptop plugged into our TV via VGA cable.

Question 1: I want this to be easy to use to access movies and shows on a network file share (gigabit ethernet network is already in place). Do any of the above players allow you to create shortcuts to network shared folders? If they don't, is it complicated to get to the shared folder? My wife will not use this if she has to navigate five steps deep to find our movies.

Question 2: Are any of these incompatible with Windows 7 file sharing?

Question 3: Of the above listed devices, is there a clear winner as far as GUI and features?

Thanks for your help. I've googled till my eyes cross but there seems to be so much conflicting info out there that I thought it would be nice to hear directly from owners.
posted by PSB to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Query: you have ruled out the popcorn hour?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:57 AM on November 10, 2010

What kind of price are you looking for? I decided to buy a Mac-Mini cause I wanted to keep the same functionality I had when connecting the laptop to my tv....
posted by The1andonly at 9:06 AM on November 10, 2010

I have a WDTV Live Plus. No problem with Windows 7 compatibility to traditional sharing on my W7 Professional install. I think there might be with just a "homegroup" share. Interface is pretty easy I just select "Video" then "Network Shares" then the server, tab through a password screen, select the share and then the file. I've been pretty pleased with it.
posted by tyllwin at 9:07 AM on November 10, 2010

Have you considered the Roku?

(We're going through something similar at home, but taking a different direction since we want some streaming video sites on the TV too. Our setup has pretty much been reduced to an antenna for OTA content, the PS3 we already have for a Upnp front-end, and a netbook plugged in to the TV for streaming flash video* and various other things the PS3 can't handle. Saving my pennies for a dedicated computer to attach to the TV permanently, like the Acer Aspire Revo).

* Please keep in mind that if you want to watch Free Hulu on your TV, you have no choice but to attach a computer. Hulu Plus has newer, higher-resolution, content, but not nearly the volume of the free version which is only accessible on regular computers.
posted by jozxyqk at 9:26 AM on November 10, 2010

If you aren't interested in streaming Netflix (or already have a way to access it) you might want to also consider the regular WD Live, which is similar to the Plus but doesn't do Netflix and is thus cheaper. I recently bought one for under $60 bucks and love it. The WD's are easy to hack with custom firmware which allows you to have all sorts of options in terms of the GUI and additional features like Shoutcast and YouTube HD.
posted by Esteemed Offendi at 10:16 AM on November 10, 2010

Response by poster: Not interested in Netflix or Hulu... just want to play AVI files, basically.

Price range is around $100 or less.

The biggest thing for me is getting to my network share and having the box remember that share so we don't have to click five or six times to get to the media. Since the ONLY media we will use it for will be on a server, I want that media available close to the top menu and I don't want to reconnect the share every time I boot up the media player.
posted by PSB at 10:20 AM on November 10, 2010

You might look into either the burgeoning AppleTV hacking community (boxes start at $99) or at a Boxee Box if you want to splurge (Boxes start at $199).
posted by Pickman's Next Top Model at 10:44 AM on November 10, 2010

The SageTV HD300 is a little more expensive than you just stated, but it will scan your network shares and store the data into it's on-board DB, so you shouldn't have to browse shares once your media is imported.

They work really well when paired with SageTV's media center software, but work as standalone players as well.
posted by reddot at 10:55 AM on November 10, 2010

It's $180 and I don't have one, but from all reports the Popcorn Hour does what you want it to do and there are lots of skins out there for it.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:23 AM on November 10, 2010

I have the WD TV Live (HD) since a couple of months and I simply can't believe how good it is. My friends also are amazed when they see it on use. The variety of formats it plays, the speed going around menus and folders, the audio/video quality, the easiness to work the home network!

Seriously, I will buy more of these to keep around each tv in the house!
posted by madeinitaly at 1:09 AM on November 11, 2010

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