Consumer

Internet TV: Browser Boxes

Sunday, February 13, 2011

More and more people are looking to get the Internet on their TV. Newer sets are "Internet ready." But, if you're not in the market for a new television, there are boxes that stream the web directly to your TV.

An Internet-ready TV is one way to access the Internet and download movies and shows.

Consumer reports just tested boxes that can also get the job done. Depending on the box, you can surf the web or just access sites like Amazon and Netflix. They're from the four major sellers: Apple, Roku, D-Link, and Logitech, which Offers Google TV.

Each box has pros and cons. Logitech Revue's keyboard makes it easy to use the full web browser.

But the keyboard's size is also a drawback - it makes for a pretty big remote! And it's expensive at $300.

The $200 Boxee Box from D-Link costs less, but testers found navigating difficult. There's no mouse, and the controller is tough to use. Plus right now the content is pretty limited.

And what about the $100 box from Apple?

"The revamped Apple TV has a lower price, an easy, slick user interface, and probably the best integration with Netflix of any box that we've seen. But right now there's not a lot of content, you can only rent, not buy, video, and it doesn't have a Web browser," Jim Willcox said.

The Roku XDS also costs $100, and it lacks a web browser, too. You can access movies and TV shows from Amazon and Netflix as well as from Roku's own channel. But you can't access YouTube, and the interface can be confusing.

"You really have to figure out what kind of user you are, how comfortable you're going to be using the interfaces, and whether these boxes offer the kind of content you really want," Willcox said.

Once you do that, one of these boxes could be the solution for getting the web to your flat-screen TV!

You can also get the web on your TV with an Internet-enabled Blu-ray player. Consumer reports recommends a Panasonic for $170. It's model DMP-BD85. It offers wireless access to Panasonic's Viera Cast Online Service, which includes movies and shows from Amazon and Netflix.

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