Top 5 Features for a Media Streamer

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With the rise of streaming subscriptions, many consumers agonize over the endless selection of media streamers to install in their homes, and well they should as not all media streamers include the cutting-edge features that film buffs and video connoisseurs demand. Some streaming boxes lack an internal hard drive to save media such as home videos and photo albums that users can display during get-togethers. Just as importantly, some devices lack support for certain file formats, limiting the media users can consume. By selecting a media streamer that includes popular features such as HD resolutions and Internet connectivity, users can extend the lifecycle of their streamer and enjoy more content.
1 Internal Hard Drive
Internal Hard Drive

While services such as Lovefilm and Netflix allow users to stream content over the Internet, variables such as the connectivity speed, as well as the tendency for Internet connections to drop out in certain areas. Those shortcomings make internal hard drives an attractive feature. Users can fill hard drives with all sorts of media including videos, pictures, and MP3s, and then play them right on their television. Of course, users who play a lot of media need a lot of space. Users interested in moving their movie library to a hard drive should opt for as much space as possible. Larger internal hard drives tend to cost more, but come with the advantage of storing hundreds of files, allowing users to enjoy a massive catalogue at a moment's notice.


2 USB Port
USB Port

Since most media streamers do not include an internal hard drive, most users rely on USB devices to watch content they cannot view through streaming services. USB ports on a media streamer open up a bevy of options, even negating the need for an internal drive. Users can plug in flash drives, external drives capable of holding more content, and a multitude of other devices. In fact, users could buy several USB devices and dedicate each one to a particular type of media: one for movies, one for TV shows, and another for photos. Selecting a media streamer with USB ports turns the streamer into the ultimate portable device. As long as users remember to pack up the proper cables, they can take their media streamer anywhere they go.


3 Support for Several Different File Formats
Support for Several Different File Formats

Just because users purchase a media streamer does not mean that stream can play all types of media. Media comes in different flavors such as MP3s for music, JPG and BMP for pictures, and AVI, MPEG, MKV, and MP4 for video. A lot of other formats exist, and not all media streamers can utilize them. Users who want to play all sorts of media, including more esoteric types such as SRT, a format often used in foreign films, should purchase a streamer with support for several different file formats. Spend significant time researching a media streamer's compatibility. Users should compare supported file types against the file in their own collection. For videos, MP4 remains one of the most compatible types and works on media streamers ranging from the Apple TV to game consoles such as the PlayStation 3.


4 Browser for Internet Content
Browser for Internet Content

Buying a media streamer with a built-in web browser allows users to do more with the device than just stream music and video. Connect the media streamer to an HDTV, enable Internet connectivity, kick back on the sofa, and fire up the web browser to enjoy social media, web games, and other online content on a big-screen. Even better, some media streamers such as the Logitech Revue support a keyboard, making browsing quicker and more intuitive.


5 High Definition Resolution
High Definition Resolution

Although many videos offer high definition resolutions such as 1080p, some media streamers display video in lower resolutions such as 720p. Users who demand the crispest and most vibrant graphics should conduct research into media streaming boxes to get the most graphical bang for their money. Apple engineers packed in support for 1080p playback in newer iterations of the Apple TV, as do many Android media players. On the flip side, some streaming services may not offer all of their media in high definition resolutions. Even the most state-of-the-art media streamer cannot display video in HD if the source video does not support HD resolutions. Most consumers associate "HD" with video, but HD also applies to sound. Consumers should complement high-end media streamers with accoutrements such as 3D surround sound to create the ultimate home theatre setups.


How to Buy a Media Streamer

With so many media streamers to choose from, buyers should experience no difficulty finding a device that meets their needs. Begin the search by going to any eBay page and entering a keyword phrase into the search bar. Phrases such as "media streamer" or "Android streaming" call up more varied but generalized results, while specific keywords such as "Apple TV" tailor the search to specifics. Buyers should read product listings carefully before finalizing a purchase. Look for information such as the file formats the media streamer supports and whether it offers a web browser so users can download content rather than transport it back and forth via flash drive. Lastly, look for new and used products from eBay's Top Sellers.
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