06 8 / 2011
I keep struggling with the titular triad. I like television, and there’s a lot of great entertainment that you can get in your home for a monthly fee (or not, if you’re going old-school with an antenna). However, more and more of my media I’m either getting digitally, or over the Internet. This should be easy, right? No. For the past 3 years, I’ve been trying to reach nirvana, and I’m usually falling short. Now I realize, not everything works for everybody. The iLifestyle is for some, and others live “in the cloud”. But what if neither was an option? My iLifestyle doesn’t work in the cloud, and often not out of the cloud. I want to watch on a mobile device on occasion, but that mobile device is subject to change. And what about the stack of DVD’s and Blu-Ray discs I have?
There is no one solution, and in looking for one, I was bound to be frustrated. Currently, I have my PS3 (which you can pry from my cold-dead hands) and a hacked gen 1 AppleTV. Now, yes, I mostly use the PS3 for games and the fiancée uses it for workout DVD’s, so it is smart to keep around. However getting media to the PS3 is a bit awkward. I have my home “server” running PS3 Media Server to send media to the system, but I have to start it every time on the “server”, since it doesn’t run as a process. This also isn’t the primary TV. It’s in our “media/workout” room, that isn’t near anything in the house. When I want to watch something seriously, it’s down there, but for casual watching, I watch in the formal “living room”, which has the ATV. While it works good, it isn’t great. ATV works fine, XBMC worked fine until I did a network change, and Boxee has never wow’ed me. I keep trying and failing to like it.
However, there’s one thing that ties all 3 above products (ATV, XBMC, Boxee) together. Digital media. Almost all of them (less so on Boxee) are dependent on media files residing somewhere on the network. I’ve thought about this, and as much as I like collecting digital media, it’s going away. That, and it really makes no sense to keep eons and eons of TV shows and other programs unless they’re that good (see Doctor Who, Torchwood, Eureka, Firefly).
So what’s left, and what’s out there:
- AppleTV Gen 2: Glorified iTunes Media Streamer
- Boxee Box: Social Media Streamer
- Roku XS: The original Netflix Streamer… and not much more.
- PS3/Xbox 360: Gaming system that plays BD/DVD respectively
- Logitech Revue: Android TV
Now none of these really excite me except maybe the Logitech Revue. I’ve been thinking about it a lot since Google I/O, given the Android enhancements coming to it, and maybe it is the best method. The idea is adding functionality to existing Cable/Satellite TV. Not taking it away, not changing what you’re using to access media. From what I understand, it supports DLNA (a fancy protocol to stream media through your home from a server), and that actually helps me a lot, because I can keep my media on my server, and have it do all the work since DLNA supports transcoding (making your media work on any device on your network).
When/if I can get my hands on one with the Android 3.1 platform, I’ll let you know and review it appropriately, but as I write this, I think I’ve found my potential solution, in a highly unlikely spot… Looks like I may not be canceling DirecTV when my contract is up.