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The 5 Best Media Players According To PC Mag.Com

Discussion in 'Google TV General Discussion' started by Wisdom, Jul 11, 2013.

  1. Wisdom

    Wisdom New Member

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    [h=1]The 5 Best Media Players[/h]These media hubs let you access the wonders of streaming video and music services without dealing with discs.

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    OB Roundup
    Streaming video has finally taken off. Services like Netflix and YouTube have become household names, and Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant Video aren't far behind. Blu-ray is still the best format for watching movies with the highest clarity, but a wide variety of streaming media services have become the most convenient and economical ways to watch or listen to what you want.

    Many HDTVs and Blu-ray players can access some of these services directly. But for the maximum number of choices, you'll want a dedicated media hub to really experience the breadth of what can be streamed to your home theater. These set-top boxes are inexpensive and disc-free, and can grant access to massive libraries of media online through Wi-Fi. Whether you want to subscribe to online services to access collections, or buy movies and albums piecemeal through an online store, these devices offer the easiest way to do just that.


    Apple TV and Roku offer simple, direct access to multiple services, and Apple TV is still the only way to access the iTunes library of movies and music through a media hub. Apple TV has the added benefit of supporting AirPlay, letting you stream movies or music from your iPad or iPhone straight to the Apple TV and through it to your HDTV.

    The Roku 3 is even more flexible, with dozens of general interest and specialized channels, each offering their own selections of media. The Roku 3 has some networked streaming features as well, though they aren't quite as streamlined and one-click as Apple TV and AirPlay. These devices' $100 price tags and accessible designs make them an ideal way to access Netflix and other online services on your HDTV.

    If you want more power, Google TV devices can provide far more services than Apple TV and Roku, but they'll cost you in both retail price and ease of use. Google TV is clunkier than Apple and Roku's interfaces, but if you're willing to put the work into it, you can get a fully functional Web browser, loads of apps and widgets from the Google Play store, and nearly all of the utility you might get from your smartphone or tablet.

    Whether you want an Apple-based hub for your iTunes media, a library of Roku channels to browse, or the full power of Google's Android library at your disposal, these media hubs can turn your home theater into a smart, connected media center. If you don't quite want to give up physical media, our list of the top Blu-ray players offer models with plenty of online services and apps, even if they might not be as powerful or streamlined as these media hubs.

    FEATURED IN THIS ROUNDUP
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    Apple TV
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    $99
    $95.99 at B&H Photo-Video-Pro Audio The latest Apple TV supports 1080p and continues to add features via firmware updates; despite its relative age, it's still one of the best ways to watch your videos on your HDTV. Read the full review ››


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    Roku 3
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    $99.99
    $99.00 at Amazon.com The newer, faster Roku 3 adds an interface overhaul along with a nifty remote-mounted headphone jack for private listening. It's the best Roku box yet. Read the full review ››


    [HR][/HR][​IMG]
    Sony Internet Player With Google TV (NSZ-GS7)
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    $149.99
    $169.99 at PCM Affiliate Advantage Network The Sony Internet Player With Google TV (NSZ-GS7) is one of the better ways to get Google TV on your HDTV, with a sleek design, an innovative remote, and plenty of online services and apps. Read the full review ››


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    Asus Cube With Google TV
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    $139.99
    $139.99 at Amazon The Asus Cube has the easiest, most intuitive Google TV interface we've seen yet, and it works with voice commands, even if it's still a few steps behind Roku and Apple TV otherwise. Read the full review ››


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    Vizio Co-Star VAP430
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    $99.99
    $99.51 at Amazon The Vizio Co-Star VAP430 puts a twist on the functional, if clunky, Google TV interface by adding its own version, and it also supports OnLive gaming when equipped with the optional wireless controller. Read the full review ››


     
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  2. CatfishRivers

    CatfishRivers Well-Known Member

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  3. ChrisG8

    ChrisG8 Well-Known Member

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    I think it is a pretty good product comparison and ranking. I place more importance on functionality than I do ease of use and setup so Google TV beats both Roku and Apple TV for me but that is a more positive review of Google TV than we sometimes see. A nice job by the reviewer in my opinion.
     
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  4. Travel

    Travel Active Member

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    Yes, the stand-out "take way" from the article is that GoogleTV is now actually included in "good streaming devices" articles. That would seem to have everything to do with the fact that the GS7/8 and other 2nd generation GoogleTV boxes now have the Amazon Instant Vdeo, Red Box and Vudu apps, plus Google Play movies in HD. In the past, GoogleTV boxes were considered, and classified as "limited" when given any comparison to Roku or AppleTV streaming capabilities.
     
  5. CatfishRivers

    CatfishRivers Well-Known Member

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    It's one reviewer's opinion. As ChrisG8 mentioned the majority of the articles/reviews about GTV are still overall on the negative side. IMO the PC Mag article makes a good point about GTV having more functionality than Apple TV and Roku - but the article fails to mention the nerve wracking bugs that people experience with GTV devices. Some things might be due to user error - but you would be deluding yourself if you think that GTV is a smooth as silk OS without bugs. Plus after Apple TV & Roku - there really are no other "mainstream" TV box streamers.

    IMO I would value the consumer ratings on Amazon over any one single review in the press - simply because the Amazon reviews contain many reviews averaged together to come up with the final overall rating. The Amazon GTV ratings are not nearly as high as the PC Mag ratings.

    On the consumer side of things (GTV sales figures) there is absolutely no evidence of any kind to suggest that GTV has "turned the corner".

    I think the following recent review of the Asus Cube (see link below) is a fair assessment of where GTV stands in regards to it currently being a product without much mass market consumer appeal:

    http://mashable.com/2013/06/24/asus-cube-review/
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2013
  6. Travel

    Travel Active Member

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    You may be "reading too much into" my post, and making up a position for me. I'm merely pointing out GoogleTV is getting credit for, and therefore benefiting from, the new streaming apps. I wasn't "counting articles" pro and con.
    Nowhere in my post did I dispute any of the article's critique of GoogleTV, or its sales figures.
     
  7. ChrisG8

    ChrisG8 Well-Known Member

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    As I have pointed out many times, I don't consider the Amazon reviews something I would rely on, not for this product, not for any product that requires some effort to use properly. This reviewer for PC Mag, Mr. Greenwald, understands Google TV takes more effort than his higher rated streaming boxes but points out clearly, Google TV is capable of much more than the other boxes, a fair criticism so he rates Roku and Apple TV higher since ease of use is important. The average consumer rating Google TV on Amazon has spent a little time, my guess most less than a hour, and writes a scathing review with more inaccurate statements than accurate statements.

    A huge majority of the negative reviews should state, the product was too hard for me to use given the limited effort I was willing to make. A fair criticism and accurate, but when they start listing things it can't do or how poorly it works, it contains falsehoods since I can operate it without those issues and can do many of the things it is claimed can't be done. There is nothing wrong with wanting simple, especially with a product like this, but that isn't the only thing that matters. Greater functionality will always bring more complicated operation requirements, some will find that worth the effort, others won't or can't make the effort.

    If the next update makes Google TV easy enough to use that the average consumer will want to use it, great, I sure hope that happens and the reviews on Amazon should get better.
     
  8. CatfishRivers

    CatfishRivers Well-Known Member

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    I have also seen reviewers on Amazon who tried the product for a few minutes - wrote a one or two sentence review that said nothing other than GTV is the greatest thing since sliced bread - and gave it a 5 star rating. IMO in all fairness if you want to "throw out" those negative reviews from users who got frustrated after a short time without full understanding of the product - then you must also throw out the ratings of those users who tried it for a few minutes and gave a one sentence 5 star review.

    You see it takes a good week or two to experience all the wonderful bugs and limitations in the GTV OS.

    So IMO the overly optimistic and overly negative reviews will more or less cancel each other out - and then if you still have a rating based on "hundreds" of reviews it is a decent tool for getting an overall feel of the product from the consumer's viewpoint. (The Sony NSZ-GS7 and the Vizio Co-Star each have several hundred reviews on Amazon).

    ChrisG8 it seems to me that you are overlooking the bugs & limitations in the GTV OS - because it appears as though your viewpoint is that the GTV OS is fantastic (but complicated) and all the negative reviews are due to user error? You see I disagree with that premise. Frankly GTV just isn't that great - and after you get hundreds of reviews - I disagree that as an aggregate the reviews are worthless.

    Would the reviews be better if GTV was easier to use - probably yes - however if GTV just operated smoothly without bugs - even though it is not a "simple" device like Roku - I believe the ratings would be better than they are now. Probably around 4 stars. As it is the Amazon GTV ratings are passable - not really terrible - but certainly not great. A rating in the low 3's is passable. That's about what the Sony NSZ-GS7 and Vizio Co-Star get on Amazon. I tend to agree with those scores personally. A rating of 3.3 stars is fair for GTV in it's current state.

    They reviews are what they are.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2013
  9. CatfishRivers

    CatfishRivers Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for clarifying. As for as content is concerned - I guess it depends on what one wants. As you mentioned GTV has Vudu, Amazon Prime, and Google Play movies - but on the other hand it doesn't have MLB.TV, Hulu Plus, or HBOGO (which the Apple TV & Roku do have).
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2013
  10. saeba

    saeba Active Member

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    But you can add all those (and others) by setting up a PlayOn server on your PC/Mac and using it to stream to your GoogleTV.
     
  11. Carlszone

    Carlszone Well-Known Member

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    Yes Saeba, but that adds another step that is not needed on the other streaming devices mentioned and brings GTV down a notch in ease of use. Another thing that I don't think has been mentioned is the pre-installed apps that are really only a link to webpages of which HBO Go was one. If it were a real app I don't think GTV would have lost compatibility w/it.

    I've often wondered why, if the Chromebooks are so successful, why not take the Jelly Bean update as an opportune time to make the software more in-line w/those devices? Get rid of all the fake apps and just add them to the bookmark section so users can delete them at will. The complications can be reduced by simplifying the setup process. Also a change to the syncing of bookmarks would be a step in the right direction as far as ease of use.

    There are so many areas that can be simplified w/out loss of the features that make GTV what it is...

    Carl
     
  12. saeba

    saeba Active Member

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    To me that's why people are so dissatisfied with GoogleTV - they think it will solve all their problems with no additional pieces necessary. And it admittedly doesn't. I think the value of GoogleTV is in its ability to work as a piece of a larger solution. Pair it with PlayOn/PlayLater, Plex and ViMu and then you've got a real powerhouse. And setting up the additional pieces isn't really that difficult or costly if you have a PC/Mac already. And frankly, I don't see how anyone watches Hulu/HuluPlus with all the embedded commericals... I went to TiVo in 2000 and have fast-forwarded my way through commercials ever since. PlayLater is the only way I watch Hulu (record Hulu content and the play it back via ViMu and fast-forward through the commercials).

    And let's see you surf the web with the Roku which is one of my more significant uses of the GoogleTV devices in my home :)! Each solution has its own advantages and disadvantages. The important thing is for buyers to educate themselves and buy with the right expectations - which many GoogleTV buyers fail at (based upon the reviews they post at various sites).
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2013
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  13. ChrisG8

    ChrisG8 Well-Known Member

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    I own and use Roku and my youngest daughter has Apple TV, the most recent version, I have played with it. Those boxes don't have more streaming sources than Google TV, not by a long shot, in sheer numbers they have far less and for what I want from a streaming box, far less functionality. Now if you want what those do that Google TV doesn't do, maybe Hulu Plus or iTunes, Google TV doesn't have that so certainly someone could find either better suited for their specific needs. Roku beats any of these devices in terms of ease of setup and use so if that is all that matters to someone, it is going to be king.

    Somebody that rated Google TV highly on Amazon because it did exactly what is wanted, that is the typical review you see for Roku on Amazon. You won't see the whining too hard to use, can't do this, can't do that review you find for Google TV because Roku isn't designed to do anything but stream from selected sites and it does that really well. I like Roku a lot, it sells well because the channel developers have done a good job of making a lot of content available, and a lot of channels that work just as you would want. You can't discount a valid quick positive review of Google TV on Amazon and think it should cancel out the negative review from someone that doesn't have a clue how to use it, they are not comparable, one is meaningful, one is poorly researched and poorly supported. If a person researches what Google TV can do, buys it, sets it up and uses it and finds no surprises, that is going to result in a positive review. If a person doesn't know what it will do, buys and can't immediately figure it out, I don't care what that idiot has to say.
     
  14. CatfishRivers

    CatfishRivers Well-Known Member

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    In all honesty ChrisG8 I know you love GTV and that's great. But it seems to me you are "biased" in saying a brief 5 star review is meaningful while a brief 1 star review is meaningless.

    As I mentioned there are certain bugs with GTV - such as the units locking up and needing to be unplugged to get going again. I know you want GTV to succeed - we all do - but all problems can't always be hushed under the carpet as user error.

    If one uses a GTV for 30 minutes and rates it at 5 stars - they have not used it enough to experience freeze-ups, and other odd glitches unique to the GTV platform.

    You can't have it both ways - a review based on 30 minutes of usage is fine for a good review - but invalid for a bad review. IMO ideally all reviews would come after about 2 weeks of use. That would be a fair way to evaluate.

    Now here is the one of the recent 5 star reviews on Amazon for the Sony NSZ-GS7:

    *****Awesome device for Television, July 2, 2013 By luckyajc - See all my reviews
    This review is from: Sony NSZ-GS7 Internet Player with Google TV (Electronics)
    Would highly recommend if you are in the market for this type of device. There are a ton of things I can do with this *****

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    LOL IMO that review is no more valid than any of the negative reviews. So that review rocks right ChrisG8? But any negative reviews are worthless? Do you see why someone might intrepret your thinking as a "biased fan with blinders"? Explain to me please how that is such a worthwhile review?

    And I am not saying that I agree with 1 star reviews - nor do I agree with 5 star reviews. As I mentioned previously - IMO the current aggregrate rating of 3.3 stars for the Sony NSZ-GS7 (consisting of the net average of about 270 reviews) is a fair score for GTV in it's current state. 3.3 is not really a bad rating. I just don't see it as being "excellent" right now. If you do than I can't really argue that point with you - because an individual's rating is purely a subjective value judgement. And everyone will have a different opinion.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2013
  15. ChrisG8

    ChrisG8 Well-Known Member

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    Of course that is not what I have stated. I have four different models, never unplug any of them and only rarely reboot them by ctrl/alt/del but I do reboot some. You don't even own an NSZ-GS7 as far as I know. not sure how you can distinguish it from any other Google TV device. Although the differences aren't great, both Sony models I use are more stable and better devices than the others I own. You think a negative review from someone without a clue is meaningful, I really don't care, I know better, I have read the reviews. As far as your nonsense claim I am biased user, I actually have experience with a wide variety of internet streaming boxes, my opinions are based on first hand experience, including using the highest rated models. I am not sure what experience you have to compare with mine but based on your comments, it is clear it isn't much.
     
  16. CatfishRivers

    CatfishRivers Well-Known Member

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    I never said a nonsense negative review is meaningful in and of itself.

    I'll summarize one more time and then I'm done with this thread:

    There will be both good & bad, meaningful and non-meaningful reviews. Reviews from smart people and dumb people. Reviews from patient people and impatient people. I think in the end the extremes balance out and the agrregrate rating has some value. When there are several hundred reviews I don't think it is fair to disregard either all the negative reviews or all the positive reviews. Consumers opinions matter. The consumers have spoken. And also they speak with their wallets.

    I think overall after several hundred reviews you take the good with the bad. Several hundred is a very nice sample size. If there was only 10 reviews than I could see the argument that the rating isn't meaningful.

    Just because the aggregrate rating doesn't agree with your own personal assessment doesn't mean that it's meaningless. I think it gives a clue as to the average consumer's pulse of GTV. It seems to me that you are essentially saying a rating that takes into account 270 users must be wrong because it doesn't match your own personal rating. I have seen some tech savy people give bad reviews to GTV. So it's not all tech novices writing the negative reviews.

    The ratings are what they are. I believe they cannot be summarily dismissed. And if Google was smart they would pay attention to the ratings.

    End.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2013
  17. Travel

    Travel Active Member

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    I hadn't realized that Hulu Plus had commercials running within the actual content. Now I'm wondering what the big deal is in having access to Hulu. I've tried Crackle and thought it was going to be a great streaming free-movie source until I discovered that it not only had commercials, but commercials which which you can't even fast-forward through.

    I kind of draw the line at streaming sites or apps that have commercials: cable and FIOS carry all kinds of low- cost-package available movie channels like TNT, TBS, Syfy, and USA, etc. to watch if you can stand watching movies and needing to fast forward every fifteen minutes. I can't. So, I'd say that. if Roku and AppleTV have the additional features over GoogleTV of Hulu Plus and Crackle apps, that doesn't necessarily mean it's of any particular value.
     
  18. Carlszone

    Carlszone Well-Known Member

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    I never checkout ratings. In a way I have no need to. This forum provides the best resources for me as far as how new users adjust to the various devices. When I read posts where several people cannot find the Menu button this speaks for itself. Others may have trouble navigating settings or distinguishing between Home settings & Chrome. Most folks are afraid to adjust Advanced settings for fear of messing up their device functions.I take the average newbie post and consider how many folks new to GTV never find this forum. Some of the newer units have very little tech support. It is easy to see how folks can get lost in a short period of time. When something goes wrong, the noob will seek a plug & play device and ratings will reflect this.

    Unfortunately for GTV this is a dumbed down point & click age. The majority of consumers reflect this. Google will always be chasing that elusive tech savvy consumer base that simply doesn't exist. Many PC owners never personalize them and when they have to perform a simple task it can take hours to complete.

    Ratings whether justified or not still have an impact on consumers who are leery of devices they may not be able to grasp. Esp. when it comes to entertainment.
     
  19. Carlszone

    Carlszone Well-Known Member

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    Chris & Catfish, you guys are debating the ratings questions from very distinct viewpoints that equate to the same thing in my mind. Certain ratings are not justified and/or are exaggerated by expectations. The tech savvy will be able to see through such ratings and ignore the idiots. On the other hand, the majority of rating minded buyers will be influenced by the aggregate consensus.

    Does it matter other than to us whether it be true or not? I personally hate ratings the way they are now. An aficionado of a company or device can bombard the rating system as well as someone who has an axe to grind against the same. Not to mention the companies themselves.

    The same can be said for many a review sponsored by individual companies...

    Carl
     
  20. bidger

    bidger Member

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    I concur. Highlighted the strengths and shortcomings of the most popular boxes and allowed consumers to decide which might fit them best.
     

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