Last week I picked up a Sony Streaming Player (the n200) for $79.99 at the Bx (you can find it cheaper on the internet).
The box is pretty small and lightweight but it can do so much. When you turn it on (after initial setup) you’re greeted with a clean and simple menu with a variety of content providers available including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Crackle, Vudu and Pandora radio (there are many more but these are the ones I use). I previously used my Xbox as a media player and it worked, but one problem I had is that if I wanted to go from Netflix to Hulu it was time consuming to switch apps. The Sony streaming player loads pretty quickly and if you leave it in standby mode it powers on quite quickly as well.
The video quality is great (via HDMI) and I haven’t had any hiccups at all. Nothing ever gets blurry or slows down to load (this probably depends on your internet connection, but when I use Netflix on my Xbox at times it seems to be loading and will go blurry. It doesn’t do this on the Sony player).
Since purchasing this box I’ve discovered Vudu which was a service I hadn’t previously used. It allows you to rent and purchase movies, just like Amazon’s store, however Vudu claims to have the most HD options of any service and so far this seems true. It also has an HDX option which is even closer to blu ray quality than standard HD (and in some cases HDX and HD are the same price, so it’s really up to how much bandwidth you want to use). HDX looks awesome, I’m not a huge video or audio buff so I can’t really tell the difference between HDX and blu ray.
What’s also cool about Vudu is that it has some movies from independent studios available to rent BEFORE the movies are even in theaters (for example I rented Take This Waltz which hits theaters later this month for about $11 in HD for a 48 hour rental. The movie stars Seth Rogen and was very good, one of my favorite movies of the year already). It also has some movies that are currently in theaters (again usually from independent studios).
You can buy movies and stream them at any time which I enjoy. I’ll probably make a separate post about it, but I hate physical media, I’m in love with digital and cloud storage media.
In the end I’m very happy with my purchase. Sure my Xbox could already do most of what the Sony player does, but I find the Sony streaming player to be faster and more convenient.