Super Streaming Media Boxes

More and more people are watching video that's delivered to their TV from the Internet. You can access content online with a Blu-ray player, video game console, smart TV, or, if you don't have one of those, with a set-top streaming media box.

Consumer Reports just tested nearly a dozen set-top boxes to find the best.

Like many people, Ilyne Rothschild enjoys streaming video content to her television.

Rothschild says, "You just pick it, you stream it, you watch it whenever you want."

One way to stream video is with a set-top box. Consumer Reports just tested 11 basic ones, including Apple TV and Roku 3. They cost 50 to 100 dollars, and tester found big differences in how easy they are to set up and use.

Christopher Andrade of Consumer Reports says, "When it comes to connecting to your Wi-Fi network, some of them make it a lot easier by offering the WPS push-button option, which if your router supports it, all you have to do is push a simple button to connect to your wireless network."

The devices were set up in this connectivity lab to evaluate how well they deliver content to a television.

All offer great picture quality, but when it comes to features, some are lacking.

Andrade says, "Some of these boxes give you access to a lot more services, like Netflix, Vudu, and Hulu, while others are a lot more limited. Also, some of them allow you to access your personal content, like home movies, music, and photos from your cell phone, tablet, and home PC."

Consumer Reports found you don't have to spend top dollar to get top performance.

The Western Digital WD TV Play was the highest rated and costs just 65 dollars. It's less expensive and easier to use than both Apple TV and Roku 3.

It has handy features like a remote control with dedicated app buttons, and a USB port so you can access personal media files like home movies.

There's also the new Google Chromecast. It costs just 35 dollars and will stream content from Netflix, YouTube, and the Chrome web browser through your laptop or mobile device to your TV.

But until the Chromecast adds more services, Consumer Reports says it can't compete with the set-top boxes.


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