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Throw away your DVD players. Streamers are here

Last updated on: December 30, 2010 16:58 IST

Throw away your DVD players. Streamers are here

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Ashish Narsale

Are you tired of converting and burning DVDs or copying the files to USB flash drive of your favourite movies that you downloaded from the Internet? Sometimes your CD, VCD, or DVD player does not recognise the file format or just hangs.

If that's a worry then it is time to buy a new Blu-ray player that would play all the popular formats. But then buying a Blu-ray will cost you a bomb.

No worries, though.

However, there is some good news. You will forget collecting CDs, VCDs, DVDs or Blu-ray's because there are a wide variety of media players and streamers available in India to choose from and that too at cheaper rates.

Streamers are devices that transmit video or audio over a network as well as help your surf the web. Media players are devices that play only audio and video.

Streamers play most of the popular formats available and are compact in size, for some you can even upgrade the firmware, some allow you to view streaming videos from YouTube, hear audio such as music and news through online radio, access and update Facebook, download torrents, stream your high definition videos, photos and music to your television set through internet connectivity either through LAN or Wi-Fi.

You can even plug-in your portable hard drive consisting of all your favourite movies. So no more scratch media any more. This is the best in the world of entertainment. Let us run you through few of the streamers and media players available in India today.

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Image: A collage of Streamers and Media players

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Seagate's FreeAgent GoFlex TV HD Media Player

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The GoFlex is the third generation of FreeAgent, which brings you an all-new media player as GoFlex TV. It allows you easy access to your digital media files of most known popular format of photo, video and music on your home entertainment system. You just need to hook it to you TV no matter it's a standard CRT or LCD TV via compatible interfaces available such as HDMI 1.3, RCA Composite or Component.

It allows you to connect your GoFlex ultra-portable drive, or accesses your content from your digital camera; flash drive or other external drives (either Windows or Mac ) through the additional USB ports directly to your TV.

It plays most of the known formats for:

Video: MPEG-1, MPEG-2 (VOB/ISO), MPEG-4 (Xvid), DivX Plus HD, Xvid HD, AVI, MOV, MKV, RMVB Real Media, AVC HD, H.264, WMV9, VC-1, M2TS, TS/TP/M2T.

Audio: AAC, MP3, Dolby Digital, DTS, ASF, FLAC, WMA, WMA Pro, LPCM, ADPCM, WAV, OGG.

Photo: JPEG files (up to 20 MP), MJPEG, BMP, GIF, PNG, TIFF.

Subtitles: SAMI (smi), SRT, SUB

It also allows you to change audio language if supported by the video file.

Video resolutions: NTSC as 480i/480p and PAL as 576i/576p, 720p, 1080i, 1080

Audio and video output: HDMI 1.3; Composite; Component; Optical S/PDIF.

Input: 2 USB 2.0.

Network connection: Ethernet, USB Wi-Fi Adapter (optional is sold separately)

It has a dock that can house GoFlex ultra portable drive so that you can access your media files from your collection.

Not only does it play all the media files it also enables you to connect to the Internet and LAN via Ethernet or USB Wi-Fi Adapter (optional is sold separately) no matter if its PC or Mac. It provides widgets to view videos like Youtube, listen to streaming online radio, get your and other local weather forecast, finance update, view online photos using Picasa widget and much more.

Through LAN or Wi-Fi it lets you stream the content directly from you PC to TV. It even allows you to connect your USB wireless or standard keyboard.

Price: Rs 6,750*

* Actual market prices may differ depending on applicable taxes in various states.

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Image: Seagate's FreeAgent GoFlex TV HD Media Player

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FreeAgent Theater Plus HD Media Player

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FreeAgent Theater+ comes under second generation of FreeAgent series. Though being the predecessor of  FreeAgent GoFlex TV all the features are same as GoFlex TV except it supports docking of FreeAgent portable hard drive  in its bay where as GoFlex TV supports GoFlex Ultraportable hard drive. Plus point is it costs you less than GoFlex TV.

It plays most of the known formats for:

Video: MPEG-1, MPEG-2 (VOB/ISO), MPEG-4 (Xvid), DivX Plus HD, Xvid HD, AVI, MOV, MKV, RMVB Real Media, AVC HD, H.264, WMV9, VC-1, M2TS, TS/TP/M2T

Audio: AAC, MP3, Dolby Digital, DTS, ASF, FLAC, WMA, WMA Pro, LPCM, ADPCM, WAV, OGG

Photo: JPEG files (up to 20 megapixels), MJPEG, BMP, GIF, PNG, TIFF

Video resolutions: NTSC as 480i/480p and PAL as 576i/576p, 720p, 1080i, 1080

Subtitles: SAMI (smi), SRT, SUB

Audio and video output: HDMI 1.3; Composite; Component; Optical S/PDIF

Input: USB 2.0

Network connection: Ethernet, USB Wi-Fi Adapter (optional is sold separately)

Internet sites supported: Netflix; YouTube; Mediafly; vTuner; Picasa; Flickr; (firmware upgradable)

Dock can fit portable hard drive like FreeAgent Go; Black Armor PS 110; FreeAgent Go Special Edition and any other brand through the USB provided to the device.

Price: Rs 4,750

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Image: FreeAgent Theater Plus HD Media Player

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Western Digital TV media players and streamers

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Western Digital Corporation well known for its hard disk drives now also brings you media players and streamers. We run you through two of the products released for Asia.

WD TV Live HD Media Player

Being small and compact it supports wide verity of media formats and can be connected over network through Ethernet or Wi-Fi (using Wi-Fi adapter sold separately).

It supports file format like:

Video: AVI (Xvid, AVC, MPEG1/2/4), MPG/MPEG, VOB, MKV (h.264, x.264, AVC, MPEG1/2/4, VC-1), TS/TP/M2T (MPEG1/2/4, AVC, VC-1), MP4/MOV (MPEG4, h.264), M2TS, WMV9

Photo: JPEG, GIF, TIF/TIFF, BMP, PNG

Audio:  MP3, WAV/PCM/LPCM, WMA, AAC, FLAC, MKA, AIF/AIFF, OGG, Dolby Digital, DTS Playlist - PLS, M3U, WPL

Subtitle: SRT, ASS, SSA, SUB, SMI

Gives access to: Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Pandora, Flingo, Live365, Deezer, Mediafly, Accuweather through the widgets on its firmware

Audio and video output: HDMI, Composite A/V, Component video

Input: USB 2.0

Network connection: Ethernet, USB Wi-Fi Adapter (optional is sold separately)

Video resolution as: Full-HD 1080p

Price: Rs 6,550

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Image: Western Digital TV media players and streamers

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WD TV Live Hub 1 TB

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This network HD media player comes with 1TB (terabyte) hard drive. Supports a wireless network connection to your home network with an optional USB wireless adapter.

It supports file format like:

Video: AVI (Xvid, AVC, MPEG1/2/4), MPG/MPEG, VOB, MKV (h.264, x.264, AVC, MPEG1/2/4, VC-1), TS/TP/M2T (MPEG1/2/4, AVC, VC-1), MP4/MOV (MPEG4, h.264), M2TS, WMV9

Photo: JPEG, GIF, TIF/TIFF, BMP, PNG.

Audio: MP3, WAV/PCM/LPCM, WMA, AAC, FLAC, MKA, AIF/AIFF, OGG, Dolby Digital, DTS Playlist - PLS, M3U, WPL

Subtitle: SRT, ASS, SSA, SUB, SMI

Gives access to: Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Pandora, Flingo, Live365, Deezer, Mediafly, Accuweather through the widgets. Firmware is upgradable

Audio and video output: HDMI, Composite A/V, Component video, Optical audio

Input: Gigabit Ethernet, USB 2.0, USB Wi-Fi Adapter (optional is sold separately)

Video resolution as: Full-HD 1080p

Supports USB keyboards and has programmable remote. It can handle multiple streams so you can stream a movie to your Blu-ray Disc player in a room, while viewing photos on your TV in other room.

Price: Rs 9,000

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Image: WD TV Live Hub 1 TB

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Iomega ScreenPlay TV Link MX HD Media Player

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Another brand to choose from. This has a special feature apart from the rest, it enable you to download movies through torrents. A good thing about this product is it provides HDMI cable along with others.

This supports media formats for:

Video: H.264, WMV, RMVB, MPEG-1/2/4(part 2, ASP), DivX+/HD, Xvid  .avi, .asf, .iso, .vob, .ifo, .mp4, .mov, WMV, FLV, .mkv, AVCHD, M2TS

Photo: JPEG, BMP, GIF, TIFF, PNG

Audio: MP3, AC3, WAV, WMA, OGG, AAC, PCM, M4A

Playlist: PLS, M3U, WPL

Subtitle:  SRT, SSA, SUB, SMI, MKS, TXT

Audio and video output: HDMI, Composite video and audio R/L, Coaxial S/PDIF output

Input: USB 2.0

Network connection: Ethernet, USB Wi-Fi Adapter (optional is sold separately)

Video resolution as: PAL/NTSC: up to 1080p (60fps)

Compatible with PC and MAC, browse and share media files on your home network, access online content of sites such as Flickr and YouTube , and Internet feeds such as SHOUTcast Internet Radio, podcasts, or RSS.

Price: Rs 4,550

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Image: Iomega ScreenPlay TV Link MX HD Media Player

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ASUS O!Play Air and O!Play HDP-R1

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O!Play Air media player has inbuilt wi-fi and provides Ethernet port as well. This player's On-line Media feature allows you to browse over 100 Internet TV channels, 20,000 Internet radio stations, Internet photo sharing sites, and weather updates streamed over the Internet. O!Play HDP-R1 comes without Wi-Fi .and does not support Internet browsing.

Supported formats:

Video: MPEG1/2/4,RM/RMVB,VC-1,H.264

Video file extension: .trp, .mp4,.mov, .xvid, .avi, .divx, .asf, .wmv, .mkv, .rm, .rmvb, .flv, .ts, .m2ts, .dat, .mpg, .vob, .mts, .iso, .ifo

Audio: MP3, WAV, AAC, OGG, FLAC, AIFF, Dolby Digital AC3, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS Digital Surround, Tag ID3, Dolby True HD (downmix)

Image: JPEG, BMP, PNG, GIF, TIFF

Subtitle: SRT, SUB, SMI, SSA, TXT

Audio and video output: Composite video, Composite audio L/R, S/PDIF Out, HDMI 1.3

Video resolution: PAL/NTSC up to 1080p

Input: eSATA, USB 2.0

Network connection: Ethernet, USB Wi-Fi Adapter (inbuilt only in ASUS O!Play Air)

ASUS O!Play HDP-R1 Price: Rs 7,000

ASUS O!Play Air Price: Rs 9,000

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Image: ASUS O!Play Air

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Amkette Flash TV

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Flash TV is an entry-level media player. It plays music, video and photo.

Supported file formats:

Video: DAT/VCD (MPEG-1), VOB/DVD (MPEG-2), AVI-DivX/XviD (MPEG-4, Layer 2), RM/RMVB

Audio: MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV, OGG (DTS, AC-3 - Interlaced)

Image: JPEG, BMP, TIFF, PNG, GIF Text Formats TXT

Subtitles: SMI, SRT, ASS, SSA

Audio and video output: AV, YUV, 5.1 surround sound through Digital Coaxial Output

Input: USB 2.0 port and SD/MMC Card Slot

Supported storage formats: USB hard disks, USB Flash drive, SD/MMC Cards (NTFS, FAT32, and FAT16)

Video resolution: Up to 720p

Price: Rs 2,200

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Image: Amkette Flash TV

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Transcend DMP10 HD Media Player

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Supported file formats:

Video: H.264, VC-1, RMVB, MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG4, DivX, XviD, WMV9, MJPEG, FLV

Audio: MP3, WMA, AAC, OGG Vorbis, RA, FLAC, WAV, LPCM, Dolby Digital, DTS

Photo: JPEG, BMP, PNG, GIF, TIFF

Subtitles: SRT, SUB, IDX+SUB, SMI, ASS, SSA

Audio and video output: HDMI 1.3, S/PDIF, Composite

Input: 2 USB 2.0 port

Supported storage formats: USB hard disks, USB Flash drive (NTFS, FAT32, and FAT16)

Video resolution: NTSC, PAL, 480p, 576p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p

Price: Rs 4,990

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Image: Transcend DMP10 HD Media Player

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