Choosing the right web-to-TV box: Apple TV vs. Boxee Box vs. Roku

The challenge

Internet TV or web-to-TV boxes are largely gaining in popularity. The set-top-boxes (STBs) for Internet TVs are some of hotly sold-out technological products these days. You have several options for Internet TVs in stores to choose from. As its name indicates, Internet TV is all about streaming video contents from across the web to your television set in home and office. Here we compare three leading web-to-TV boxes. They are Apple TV, Boxee Box and Roku. Firstly, just enjoy brief intros to each Internet TV set-top-box below, before moving to the comparison section.

Apple TV vs. Boxee Box vs. Roku
Apple TV vs. Boxee Box vs. Roku

Apple TV: It is Apple’s solution for streaming web videos to your TV or entertainment system. The new version of Apple TV (2010) is known for two things; slimness and accessibility to enormous contents. Apple TV integrates iTunes, NetFlix, YouTube and many other rich online video sources.

Boxee Box: It is arguably the best of Internet TVs. Thanks to its great UI and a remote controller, D-Link’s Boxee Box is considered as the best hardware solution for web-to-TV services. The STB is also known for its social networking capability. The device comes with better social networking integration; so you can enjoy social media on your TV set.

XDS Roku Player: Roku is just built to stream contents from web sources to your HDTV. The task is quite simple using XDS Roku Player that comes in three versions, the HD, XD and XD|S.

Now, get through the comparison of these three web-to-TV set-top-boxes. Going through the article, you will get a clear idea on which of the Internet TV will suit your requirements the best. All aspects and key features of the devices are reviewed in detail below.

Comparison attributes

Dimensions & Weight

Apple TV has the dimensions of 0.9 x 3.9 x 3.9 inches. It is indeed the slightest and lightest of the devices with the weight counting just at 0.6 lbs. Boxee Box is up with the dimensions of 4.5 x 4.5 x 4.6 inches and a weight of 1.54 lbs. XDS’s Roku Player offers the size of 4.9 x 4.9 x 1.2 inches and a weight of 0.45 lbs.

Winner: Apple TV

Video & Audio features

Both Roku Player and Boxee Box have maximum resolution of 1080p. Meanwhile, Apple TV falls short of the feature with 720p. You have video out HDMI, audio out HDMI and audio out optical on all three gadgets.

Winner: Roku Player and Boxee Box win over Apple TV with 1080p capability.

Connectivity and ports

All web-to-TV gadgets come with adequate connectivity options and ports. You have 802.11a/b/g/n wireless network and 10/100 Ethernet on all three gadgets. But Apple drops a USB port, while Boxee Box sports two USB ports and Roku has one. In short, Boxee Box beats its two competitors with SD card slot and a web browser, however.

Winner: Boxee Box

Audio & Video formats supported

Apple TV supports video formats like MOV, MPG/MPEG, H.264, Motion JPEG and DivX and audio formats like AAC, MP3/4, AIFF, WAV and Dolby Digital Apple Lossless.

Boxee Box is richer with video formats like MOV, MPG/MPEG, FLV, Windows Media Player, MPEG2/4, TS, MKV, VC-1 (WMV9), DivX and xViD and a number of audio formats including MP3/4, WAV, OGG, DTS and Dolby Digital.

Roku is up with video formats like MP4/M4V, MOV, MKV and WMV and audio formats MP3/4 and Dolby Digital,

Winner: Boxee Box

Video sources; compatibility

There are lots of sources for videos on the web. From YouTube to Zune, you have millions of video contents including songs, films, trailers, ads and several innumerable items. In fact, all web-to-TV machines are not capable to stream contents from all sources on the web. Some are compatible with some sources and others with other sources. Here is a look into the compatibility of various video sources of the three Internet TV devices that are in our discussion.

Apple TV: iTunes, NetFlix, MLB.TV, NBA League Pass and YouTube.

Boxee Box: NetFlix, VUDU, MLB.TV, NHL Game Center and YouTube.

Roku: NetFlix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, MLB.TV, NHL Game Center, NBA League Pass, UFC TV YouTube

Winner: Roku; winner is so clear. Roku is compatible with more content sources than its competitors.

Price

The second generation Apple TV is just priced at $99. Roku also carries the same price tag, but Boxee Box is a bit expensive with a price at $199.

Winner: Apple TV and Roku win over Boxee Box.

Verdict:

Boxee Box wins in major parameters like connectivity & ports, audio & video features and supported formats. D-Link’s Internet TV device is, of course, the most sophisticated among others. It comes with a brilliant remote controller, User Interface and social networking integration. But the device fails in categories like dimensions & weight and price. In fact, these two factors are not much essential as it is an Internet TV gadget.

It is not something that needs to be carried frequently. We just have to place the device near to your home theater system or TV. And so, apart from the still annoying price fact, Boxee Box is the best web-to-TV box. It supports more file formats and it is more advanced both in hardware and software aspects.

It does not mean Apple TV and Roku are small fries. They are also known for some amazing features. Apple TV just weighs at 0.6 lbs and Roku is capable to stream contents from more sources than others. So it is up to you to decide which of the web-to-TV gadget matches your requirements the best. Whatever it is, our comparison judges Boxee Box as the ultimate winner, though it is a bit pricier.

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