The thing that everyone loves about Apple TV and Roku is that they’re great at delivering the content from the services you subscribe to, or playing back your local files, but what if you could bring all the advantages of a smart media hub to the cable box experience? The Samsung GX-SM530CF Smart Media Player does just that, by bringing the company’s popular Smart Hub interface to any TV in the home, and adding cable box capabilities to take better advantage of S Recommendations (not to mention freeing you from monthly cable box rentals).
The Smart Media Player brings your cable subscription to the party by way of CableCARD, a small, credit-card size device like the old PCMCIA cards for laptops, to add that functionality. CableCARD contains all the decryption hardware necessary to access content from your cable company, and one can usually be rented for under $5 a month, or even bought on the open market and activated by your television provider for a lifetime of box-free viewing. Unfortunately, CableCARD is slightly limited by the fact that it doesn’t include all the extra bells and whistles like video on demand, or any of the apps your cable company might provide. But if you’re plugging the box into a secondary television, it’s probably not too much of a sacrifice when you figure in how much you’re saving over renting that additional cable box. Not to mention the fact that Smart Media Player brings a ton of apps of its own to the table.
As the beneficiary of Samsung’s long history in the Smart TV business, the Smart Media Player has more than 100 apps, including Amazon Instant Video, Netflix, VUDU, and YouTube for your viewing pleasure. Media boxes have been evolving over the last half-decade, first as just a means to view your digital media, then as storage for it too. And now new game consoles like the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are bringing every form of media you could imagine together in a neat little package. Of course, those game systems are upwards of $500, so something like the Smart Media Player has a great niche of affordability to live in, well away from the big boys, living in a space for the person who wants all of the media access but doesn’t care about the gaming. (Beyond simple things like Angry Birds, which Samsung Smart TVs include. No word on whether or not you’ll be able to terrorize pigs on the Smart Media Player.)
The Samsung GX-SM530CF Smart Media Player will be available starting October 23 at a suggested retail price of $149.99.