Ready to sever your cable and switch to free Internet TV content in 2010? So are we. Besides the plethora of connected features built right into next-gen televisions from virtually every manufacturer, a number of new set-top boxes will make it possible to retrofit any existing TV for Web video – and do it easier than ever. Take a look at these upcoming streaming media devices set to launch in 2010.
This media darling of CES earns its stripes with a number of features not yet found on other boxes, including Hulu support, a clever two-side remote with a full QWERTY keyboard, and one of the slickest on-screen interfaces we’ve ever seen. It even offers social features that let you share your favorite content with friends and see what they’re watching.
Makers of the popular Popcorn Hour C-200 return this year with a new box reduced in size almost as much as it has reduced in price. The Popbox HD will cost just $129 when it debuts in March, and like its predecessor, will play practically every file type known to man in full 1080p HD. Streaming services supported include Netflix, Revision3, Blip.TV and many more, and Syabas’ open Popapps Portal will allow developers to open even more doors as time goes on.
ZaggBox$799 Preorder, $999 final price
The same company that brought you those “Invisible Shield” iPhone protectors makes a streaming media box now. Shoving all skepticism aside, the specs on this powerhouse actually look pretty promising: An internal 1TB hard drive makes it a standalone media server for keeping all your photos video and music local (no worries about skipping over a network) and it even supports IR blasters for controlling other systems in your home theater. An iPhone app to serve as a remote and a back panel with every input and output known to man should seal the deal for enthusiasts, if the $799 preorder price tag doesn’t scare them off first. Zagg will start delivering them in the spring.
No, it’s not technically a “set top” streaming media box, but the multi-function Dash actually pulls many of the same tricks – and a built in 7-inch LCD screen essentially makes it a portable TV for your house. It can handle WMV and MPEG-4 video from USB drives, as well as streaming options like YouTube. Of course, it also does built-in Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and more through a gallery of 1,500 apps and counting. Sony will launch it in April for $199.