Sony Jumps into the Set Top Media Box Wars

Sections: Source components, Streaming, Video, Video servers

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Given how many OEMs like Asus and Western Digital have already released affordable digital media boxes, and the looming shadows of a new Apple TV and Google TV, one must wonder if there’s even room in the market for one more. Well, Sony’s giving it the good old college try with its SMP-N100. Coming in at $129, the box boasts support for virtually every video codec under the sun and a ton of video services, as well, including YouTube, Netflix, Amazon on Demand, Pandora, and Sony’s own free Crackle and video on demand systems. While the box doesn’t currently support Hulu, it’s expected to be added in a future firmware update. The big advantage over its competitors is built-in wireless N, USB, and Ethernet connectivity, with enough bandwidth and stability to support HD level streaming. A/V connectivity comes in the form of composite, component, HDMI, and optical outputs. The box is controlled via standard remote, or upcoming apps that will run on either Apple iOS or Android.

So what’s the end result? This box breaks out the likely future media capabilities of the PS3 without the heat, the noise, and the heavy power draw. While future higher-end Blu-ray players and BRAVIA televisions should should duplicate it, adding an SMP-N100 to an existing television in the bedroom might not be the worst idea in the world. The real question I have is whether this box is merely a stopgap. With Sony adopting GoogleTV, and the new AppleTV on the horizon, I can’t shake the feeling that boxes like this without access to app stores and complex internet connectivity are on the cusp of being yesterday’s news.

Via [CEPro]

Sony Box

Photo via [Engadget]

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