With the impending release of both the new Apple TV and the Boxee Box, the ability to stream your media around your home is becoming an ever-simpler task. Well, far be it from Sony to hang around when a hot new trend comes around, so they’ve come up with their own device to access web content and media accessible on your home network, and as always with Sony, its name is slightly more ambiguous than some of its rivals.
The SMP-N100 Network Media Player is a simple device really in terms of what it achieves, and really it won’t offer anything over and above its rivals when it comes to features, but the way I see it, it’s not what it offers, but how.
You may have seen our review of the ACRyan PlayOn! HD Media Player lately, and even with the subsequent firmware upgrade targeting a much improved user experience, it still doesn’t quite stack up when compared to the ease of use provided by a similar device, such as the WDTV. And Sony, as always, follows in the same vein in offering this incredible usability, as with all of its media products, by employing its XrossMedia Bar menu system when using the device on your TV to access web content via ‘apps’, for example YouTube. Alternatively, there are free apps available for the iPhone/iPod Touch and Android, which allow you to control your media remotely.
The SMP-N100 is said to be compatible with a great quantity of file formats, including the ever popular MKV, as well as DivXHD and AVCHD. In terms of connectivity it has Wi-Fi and is DLNA compliant, obviously, so you can playback the stuff you keep on your network, and features a front-facing USB port for local playback. As far as video output is concerned, it obviously has Sony’s favoured HDMI connection as well as composite and component output.
The device also features the same Sony Monolithic Design Concept made famous by the Sony BRAVIA range of TV’s and then by the range of new blu-ray players and other Sony home theatre kits. It is small and seemingly unobtrusive, and provides a good alternative to those blu-ray players for those of you who keep your content digitally, whether it is locally or on the network.
So whilst it may not be a patch on the Apple TV or Boxee Box in terms of anticipation, when it comes to functionality and compatibility, it even surpasses anything the Apple TV can offer in certain areas, although perhaps the iTunes store is slightly more comprehensive than BRAVIA Internet Video found on the Sony SMP-N100 Network Media Player.
What do you think to Sony’s entry into the network media player market? Do you want yet another set-top box to choose from and potentially sit around your TV?