330 days from now, TV as we know it will have changed.
I’ve been saying that for a long time, but on Sept. 1st 2010, I decided to put it on the countdown. Why? Because Apple and Google came out with their set top boxes (Apple, finally taking it seriously).
When companies like Apple and Google get into this game, you know the wind is about to change.
GigaOM has a nice write-up comparing the applications on the boxes. Each one has their own advantages and disadvantages. For example, if you want the iTunes store, you will have Apple TV and that is it.
Expect this playing field to grow. The easiest box to program for is Boxee. If you know XML, you can get a channel on for nothing. The 0ther boxes might have you pay a fee for their SDK kits.
There are also many other boxes out there. PopBox, Kylo (they have that interesting remote they called “The Loop”) and others. Walmart purchased Vudu, which conspicuously is missing from the GigaOM list.
Why I Recommend Roku
There are technically two of them I will recommend. The Roku is really a no-brainer. For $60 – $100, you can start watching content right now. On any TV.
What really bugs me about the other boxes: They all have HDMI only video. For a box like Apple TV that has a high definition port and cannot play 1080 video, isn’t that pointless?
As far as I’ve seen through that group of 5, Roku is the only box with Analog plugs.
Early adopters of Flat screen technology bought their TV’s about 2 years ago -right before HDMI became a standard. If you bought a TV in the last 5 years, chances of you running out for another are a lot less.
Therefore, you will opt to get an internet TV box. That also means you will need something that will do either analog or S-Video. With a composite converter, you have those choices on a Roku.
Newer TV’s will start integrating a system (like Vudu, and the Google TV). It makes sense – kinda like buying the TV with the DVD built in. No wires and less clutter.
So if you are not buying a new TV and don’t have an HDMI port, then Roku will be one of your better choices. $99 with Wireless N and full HD is very appeasing.
Why I choose the Boxee Application
Boxee has opted to allow people to download the application for their computers. Therefore, you can buy that little box, or make your own. Windows, Mac and Linux; Install the application and you are off and running.
Like I mentioned before, with a little XML knowledge, your Boxee application is created. You can submit to Boxee, or customize your own system to video, audio and pictures that you want.
The Boxee box does have a uniqueness to it, however without the option to plug into a standard TV, I would shy away from the $199 price tag.
The computer in my living room has the Boxee application on it.
Apple TV – Why?
Of course, there is already a jailbreak for the Apple TV. They also took it apart and found the similarities to an iPad. Down the road, I expect some really cool features of the Apple TV, but with no custom applications and having it run on the archaic iTunes platform, the device is best for the Apple fanboys.
You have a good set of choices for boxes out there. Right now I choose Roku and Boxee. Next year might be completely different. With $60 starting price tags and self build kits, you can easily have more than one system to choose from.