Media Streamer VS, Media Player VS, HTPC

Media Streamer VS Media Player VS, HTPC

HTPC vs Media Streamer

Media Streamers VS Media Players VS HTPC's - Best Devices for Cutting your Cable TV Bill

Hulu, Vudu, Netflix, Roku
Media Streamers - Not as Hard to Setup
Media Streamers like the current Roku Ultra, Premiere or Express are compact small boxes that attach directly to your television with an HDMI cable. They also connect to the Internet using either a wireless connection or with an Ethernet cable attached to a router. 

Media streamers let you watch content either streamed from your computer or directly from Internet using sites like *YouTube, Hulu, Netflix or many other similar services. Roku, one the of the most popular media streamers currently available has over 4,500  Channels.

Be sure to check out our Roku Channels List to find many, mostly Free channels available on Roku.

Apple TV Series 2, Apple TV Series 2, 1080p HD

Media Streamers also play downloaded files directly from your PC or Mac, Network Attached Hard Drive (NAS) or dedicated Media Server. This a great way to watch your content on TV instead of only on your computer. *Please note: While the official YouTube channel is also available also see this alternative private YouTube channel you may enjoy more, especially on older Roku players.

Media Players - A Little Harder Setup
A Media Player is almost the same as a Media Streamer although it offers the ability to play files from either an internal hard drive or from an attached external drive. 

The Nvidia Shield is an excellent example of a more powerful device that can be bought with a internal hard drive for storing your media. Media players require a little more knowledge and can be a little more difficult to get the hang of.

Some can even be modded with custom firmware to add even more features and options. Media players with internal hard drives also give you an extra place to back up files and photos.

1st generation Apple TV

HTPC - Most Technical to Setup
The acronym for a Home Theater Personal Computer is HTPC. Much like a personal computer an HTPC gives you much more control over choosing your own software to play your media content. It also supports all video formats. Many people like to assemble and build their own HTPC from custom off the shelf PC components. Fully assembled HTPCs are also available from companies like Assassin, Acer or ASRock.

Most people use either a version of Windows which contains Windows Media Center software as their operating system for an HTPC. Alternative choices are Linux OS with Kodi Media Center or Plex. The downside of an HTPC is they do take much more time to setup. They also require a bit more maintenance to keep their anti-virus and Operating System updated. HTPC's are still very popular as they give you the ability to pretty much play any music or video file. They also give the user more flexibility with the software that can be installed. Many people primarily love their HTPC's for this reason. While they are usually larger, recently many manufactures have shrunk down the size of HTPCs to footprint that compares in size to some media players.

Another big advantage to an HTPC is you can turn it into an HD DVR without monthly fees by adding an internal or external TV Tuner. This let's you record clear Cable TV or Free terrestrial TV with an HD antenna.

File Compatibility
Unlike an HTPC, not every Media Streamer or Media Player plays every file format perfectly in HD 1080p. This is where you carefully need to study the specs to be sure it plays everything you need. The most common video formats are .mkv (Matroska) and.avi (Audio Video Interleave) which are often found in video files downloaded from the internet. 

It is really important that the Streamer or Media Player you buy, will play these files perfectly at 60Fps without stutters. 4K capable models are quickly becoming the new standard for UHD televisions.  

Also, look at any additional features to make sure your device is fully capable to play Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video and YouTube or other popular Roku channels.

Prices can vary greatly, from as low as $30 for a Roku Express Media Streamer all the way up to $1200 or more, for a fully decked out HTPC.

A simple to use and intuitive interface that is easy to navigate is much more appreciated by all family members. Anything that needs too much fiddling, your family will soon lose interest and start asking to go back to cable. 

This is where Roku shines. Although most people can easily navigate Kodi or Plex software on an HTPC, for a low cost and simple to use interface, you can't beat the plug and play experience a simple Roku Media Streamer offers.

Take our Media Streamer, Media Player or HTPC Quiz
Need help deciding which device is best for you?
Take our quick quiz and find which media device offers the best features to fit your needs.

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