I'm a very savvy computer/PC person, but when it comes to home theater, media, and TV's, I have much less experience.
I'll be moving into a new place soon, and I'm going to be buying a new TV and a new router. Now, in the past, what I might have done to watch Netflix and media files on my TV, is I would just plug a laptop into my TV via HDMI cable, and viola, I can play anything.
Problem is that it isn't very elegant (though it is powerful). I know a lot of solutions exist. People have HTPC's, Roku or Boxee boxes, Chromecast, NAS drives, etc. All various ways to watch or stream HD wirelessly so they can watch stuff on their TV or tablets.
I have many media files I'd like to watch on my TV, in addition to Netflix, Amazon, and various streaming services. My questions is what are the "best" solutions here?
I know a console, or Roku/Boxee, or some TV's will be able to handle watching Netflix and stuff, that's easy. But what if I want to also stream or play media files as well? What are good ways to access and play those files wirelessly... and if so, what hardware (TV, boxes, router) are needed? Maybe something I can install XBMC onto?
I understand there isn't any one answer. My problem is that I feel like there are many solutions to what I want to do, and I'm not really sure the best approach here. Thanks!
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You need media player that supports network sharing, samba - windows sharing or DLNA. DLNA alone is not that elegant because you'd have to have some server running where video is stored. What's even more important, player needs to support a lot of codecs and containers or whatever you need it to play. Something like WDTV Live streamer. Check this site http://www.iboum.com/net-media-players.php for more suggestions.
I second Al's reply. Just use a WDTV Live and you will be happy. You can get refurbished ones on Amazon for $62 on up.