Streaming Media Players have grown up in 2016
They are now less expensive & more powerful than ever!
Streaming Media Services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu & Sling TV now offer more content than ever at a fraction of the cost of Pay TV! Add in the explosion of Streaming Music Services like Pandora, Spotify, etc. and now a vast majority of U.S. homes have at least one Streaming Media Player.
What is the best Streaming Media Player for your family to use for easy access to Streaming Content, your Personal Media & your DVR on your Big Screen TV? Our review of the best Streaming Media Players for 2016 (Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV) also compares them to similar internet connected Cord Cutting devices & DVRs (TiVo, Media Center PC, Gaming Systems, Smart TVs).
Obviously on this site we will be looking at things from a Cord Cutting perspective, but this Streaming Media Player Comparison Chart will also be a good resource for folks with Pay TV that are looking for better options for a 2nd room (no extra monthly cable box fee per room) or just an entertainment add on. This comparison gives a high level overview for the average person & will focus on the differences between devices & skip the features that all Streaming Media Players have in common (wifi, HD, Netflix). If you want more details or to buy-simply click on the Streaming Media Player/DVR name at the top/bottom of each column. Each feature is rated from 0-10 (0 is bad, 10 is excellent), & the Media Center PC column will show a picture of the feature when you hover over the score.
|Feature||TiVo DVR & Streamer||Tablo w/ Roku DVR & Streamer||Channel Master DVR||Roku SMP||Fire TV SMP||Apple TV SMP||Smart TV||Xbox 1|
|Feature||TiVo DVR||Tablo DVR||Channel Master DVR||Roku SMP||Fire TV SMP||Apple TV SMP||Smart TV||Xbox 1|
|TV Guide & DVR||10||8||7||0||0||0||2||10|
|Live TV-Local News, Sports||10||10||10||0||0||0||10||10|
|Full Web Browsing||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Interface-Ease Of Use||9||7||5||6||6||6||2||5|
|Features & Flexibility||7||8||6||6||6||6||4||5|
|Play Personal Media||3||5||1||5||5||4||5||5|
|Anywhere Access To DVR & Movies||9||8||1||3||3||3||0||2|
|Audio & Video Connectivity||8||6||3||3||4||3||7||6|
|Overall Cord Cutting Score||9||8||4.5||8||6||5||5||5|
|Cord Cutting Summary & Recommendations||Only has the basic streaming options, but a great option for a unified whole home OTA DVR.||Can't hook directly to a TV & need to have a storage drive, but great whole home option when paired w/ a Roku.||Just a basic DVR, limited streaming services & need to pay extra to add on a DVR storage hard drive.||Low cost & a plethora of internet apps, Roku is highly recommended-the perfect companion for a MC PC!||Offers a fast SMP processor & a good User Interface, great if you have Prime.||Only recommended if you already have other Apple iDevices & have everything on iTunes.||Good for live TV, but poor Guide & no DVR. Poor UI & features compared to all other options.||Gaming device & SMP in kids, gaming or 2nd room-add TV tuner for OTA guide.|
The opinions in the chart above are based on our customer’s & our own experiences. We also referenced this Cnet Article on “Alternatives For Recording Free Over The Air TV”. The Cnet article also concludes that a Media Center PC is “Ultimately The Best Solution”, but that you need to be “Technically Savvy” to build it. We agree 100%, which is why we took all of the hard work out of it for you and build the Best Fully Integrated & Easy To Use Media Center PC available!
On the surface Internet Connected Smart TVs & other Streaming Media Players seem to provide a good option to Cut the Cord, however they lack live TV, TV Guide & DVR capabilities. In reality they only work well in certain situations offering just a limited Cord Cutting solution that is difficult for some members of the family to use.
If you are looking for an Easy To Use, Fully Integrated Cord Cutting Solution then the Media Center PC is undoubtedly your best choice for an all in 1 option to drop Cable or Satellite. TiVo’s Roamio DVR is also a good Cord Cutting option, but paying $15 a month seems a lot like Pay TV’s model… Even the best Streaming Media Player that we reviewed still lacks Live TV & key cord cutting features (Live Local TV, DVR & TV Guide). Smart TVs offer live TV via switching TV inputs to Antenna, but have a clunky User Interface & limited internet apps. Some of the Top Streaming Media Players or Gaming Consoles will work as a partial solution & would be recommended if you are single, techy, or are just ok with a less convenient solution for TV & entertainment, but most only link paid TV streaming as opposed to free TV content.