Network Media Players
Network media players (see Figure 3) give you the ability to stream media—music, video, photos, news, and more—from the computers on your network and the Internet to your TV or other display. You can listen to your favorite MP3s or Internet radio station, flip through your digital photos, watch Internet TV, and more—all from the comfort of your couch. Though these media players are marketed mostly towards families for entertainment, they can also be useful in the business world—for example, to entertain or inform guests in the lobby.
Because these media players already communicate with your computers, some manufacturers offer a remote desktop feature so you can see and control your PCs just as if you were sitting in front of them, using the player’s remote. Additionally, some players have digital video recording (DVR) functionality. For example, if you have a TV tuner card in your Windows Vista PC, you can pause, record, and rewind your TV. Most media players come with access to special online programming where you can watch live and on-demand shows and movies. Select media players sport card readers so you can insert and video the media on SD, Memory Stick, and other removable-media.
You can pick up a standard media player for around $180, and up to $300 for more feature-packed players. The following product links give you a head start on your search for a network media player: