on January 5, 2011
I have no idea why some rate this unit so low. It's no harder to setup than a roku. But seems to elude some.
Purchased this box 2 months ago, and it always works great. Using it wireless with a Zyxel X-550 and I can stream 20M from my pc full hd and 5:1 dolby from a dvd I converted for testing the DLNA support. Video and music from windows 7 works great. Just need to setup the videos and music in windows media player and they all show up on the SMP-N100.
Internet video works flawless also. I use it with Netflix and Huluplus. I have a 15M cable connection so bandwith isn't an issue. I canceled my cable after getting this working. I can get news, etc over the air, everything else over the internet.
I also picked up a Roku XD/S. The Roku is much easier/nicer to fast forward and rewind. I like the Netflix browse list on the Sony over the Roku, it shows 18 selections rather than the 5 on the Roku. The interface is quite a bit better for Hulu with the Roku, the Sony is pretty crude. There are other small advantages in one interface over another.
As for the hardware, there is no question which one is on top. The Sony is much better built, with a full component, composite, optical audio and hdmi jacks. The Roku you need to buy there cable for component support which is a pretty low grade cable. I need component support cause I'm not ready to give up my DLP tv. I like the projection screen rather than looking into a light bulb. The HDMI connections work well on both units when connected to my LCD tv.
The remote for the sony is excellent. Put the code in for the tv and it runs both the box and tv great.
The video quality on both units is very nice. Better than what I use to get on cable.
The main reason I gave it 4 stars is the lack of software updates and I suspect it won't get much if any attention in the future.
on January 12, 2011
This is a review as well as a comparison with other similar products out there.
I've done extensive research in digital media players and have tried the following models:
a) Roku XDS, b) WD V Live Plus, c) Sony network media player SMP N100, 4) Apple TV and Boxee software on the laptop.
I really wanted to like Roku and was super excited to set is up and have it connected to the internet and was installing apps within minutes. After few days I realized that the hassle of entering a code for every app and then registering on the app providers is too much of a hassle. Even if I wanted to play the content thru USB, it was a hassle with private channels. Another issue with this is that Roku is not DLNA certified so it doesn't work with your other machines on the network. You would need to jump thru the hoops of creating private channels or some elaborate setup to achieve that. If you install too many apps, it runs out of memory and you'd need to uninstall some.
Apple TV has the best interface and the most intuitive one. The only issue is that it only streams via iTunes so sharing thru anything else is a problem. Some people have installed Boxee on AppleTV sort of expands its capabilities in terms of the network support.
WD TV Live Plus is the best so far in my research and trials. It pretty much plays any content you throw at it and it recognizes the formats. There are not a lot of widgets (compared to Roku and Boxee) so you might feel limited in terms of what can be achieved, but if you install a TVersity server on one of the machines on your network then you can pretty much stream any content to the box. Installing TVersity is a snap (and free). This is also a DLNA certified device so it sees all the other windows devices on your network and you can play them on the box wirelessly. I've streamed 1080p thru a wireless laptop on the device and it worked without any hitch. This also support "Play to" in the media player according to the book, but I've not had success with it. I had my 1TB external USB drive connected to it and it was a sweet set up in terms of access to all my media. Since it's a DLNA device, I could also access my external 1TB disk on the network to copy/move data around and it didn't need a computer to do it.
Boxee software on the laptop works great but I haven't tried the hardware box as it's around the double the price of its compititiors. There are just too many apps on it so it becomes difficult to find what you want to play and then it has memory limitation as well. The interface is user configurable so you can get skins downloaded for your preferences.
Sony network media player is also a DLNA certified device but I came across the following issues: a) when I connect a external usb drive which has two partitions, it only recognizes the first partition and doesn't show the second one. While WD TV Live Plus shows both as hard disks. b) It recognizes the Windows 7 machine quickly as a media repository but only sees the directories which are marked as 'Library' in the Windows Media Player on the machine. You would have to add more directories to the library if you want its content to show up on the Sony device. WD TV Live Plus also recognizes the device as a network share so you are free to browse all the folders. You just need to set the 'source' in the settings as the root level folder then everything is visible. c) 'Play To' from the windows machine of Windows Media Player tries to contact the Sony device but always gives an error of "unsupported format" even though the same file plays fine directly from the Sony device. Never been able to use "Play To" successfully. d) For some widgets like Hulu/Netflix etc you would need to register at a sony url from the computer before you can use it. e) The on-screen keyboard is like a 'phone keypad' where the alphabets on keys 0-9 so you would either need to press the same button multiple times to enter a character or use the arraw buttons to go the right key, in which case it's easy to overshoot. Would have been nice to have a full screen keyboard like WD TV Live plus.. although Boxee device has a complete keyboard on the remote which would be even better to enter the words for search etc. f) It won't see many file formats since the support is not as wide as WD TV Live Plus. g) on the positive side, the dolby/dts sound from the device sounds much better than others, but if you are directing the HDMI thru a receiver then you don't care about it. h) also has composite and component out which makes it more flexible compared to hdmi only.
Overall, if you are interested in just using the online services like Hulu Plus, Netflix, or Amazon VoD then you can get Apple TV for the easiest interface. Although Apple TV specifically does not support Hulu officially but there are hacks available. If your inner 'geek' wants to make it a central device where you can add your own hard disks with it or stream content from any device in your home or stream any content from the internet using TVersity etc or play any format of audio or video, then get the WD TV Live Plus.
*** Update after more than a year - March 2012***
Been pretty happy with WDTV Live Plus and it has worked as a network storage as well as a DLNA media player for all formats since most TVs (including my Panasonic Viera) don't support many formats.
on October 27, 2010
It's an impressive device for accessing Internet content (movies, music, etc.), seems to work flawlessly over my wired network, and it was easy to set up. Pandora and Slacker Internet Radio and On-demand Internet videos from Amazon, Netflix, YouTube, and many others work great. For those functions it meets or exceeds my expectations.
However, I also bought the SMP-N100 to play music from my home library stored on a Windows Vista PC and it's disappointing in that area. It did not recognize Windows Media Player 11 or Tversity as valid DLNA servers. I had to buy Twonky for it to recognize my home library through DLNA. But the worst shortcoming is that when you attempt to play a group of music files (based on artist, album, genre, etc.), you can only play them in alphabetical order. There is no shuffle. And there is also no concept of a play queue. So you cannot play songs from one artist and then add songs from another. These are very basic features needed for audio playback and hopefully will be added by Sony with the next firmware upgrade. Otherwise, it's not really usable as a digital audio player.
on December 21, 2010
I have been looking to replace my WD HD Live for months now. The Western Digital was very slow to recognize my Western Digital hard drive and scrolling through my music collection was very slow. Also, the WD had problems with Hulu. My guess is that the WD is underpowered.
The Sony beats it in all ways that I have found. It looks better, produces better results and is easier to use. As a matter of fact, I just bought a second media player for an older upstairs TV set. Here are some things that I like.
1. Picture quality is outstanding for Internet TV. I use both Hulu Plus and Netflix over Verizon FIOS in full 1080P. Images are crystal clear and razor sharp. An A+ here.
2. It supports Anynet+, which means my Samsung TV remote can control the Sony Media Player. It makes it seem like the media player is built into the set. This is really great because my wife does hate more than one remote. Grade A
3. Another reviewer commented that the unit did not recognize his WD hard drive. I get the same message, however, the files are all there and are playable. I discovered that the issue is that the WD drive has a non-standard partition reserved for WD software -- something to do with automatic backups. When the unit sees that partition, it does not recognize it. But, it does recognize the NFTS drive with all my music and video. No worries at all -- except for that annoying pop-up. Grade: B+, reduced for the pop-up.
4. Faster retrieval from my hard drive. Much quicker at searching and scrolling than my WD drive. Grade A
5. The Sony media player unit is very solidly built and connects well with my Samsung LED TV. Looks nice, not plasticy. Grade A+
So, all in all, I was very happy with the purchase at Costco and recommend the unit.
My big wish? I wish it had XM Radio internet support. That would be sweet.
on September 24, 2010
The Sony SMP-N100 has Netflix, Amazon VOD, YouTube, Pandora, Slacker and a bunch of other internet channels. Hulu Plus and Qriosity will be coming in late 2010. It also has a USB port that supports FAT32 and NTFS drives, formats supported:
AVCHD- LPCM or MP2 audio
DivX HD- AC3 or MP3 audio
H.264- AAC audio
MP4- AAC audio
MPEG-1 & 2- MP2 audio
VOB- AC3, DTS, LPCM or MP2 audio
WMV9(VC-1)- WMA9.2 audio
It has built-in wireless: 2.4GHz N band
On the back it has: ethernet, HDMI, composite, component, optical and analog
It can output: 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p
So far I'm happy with it. One word of caution though, make sure to turn off the device before plugging or unplugging a USB device.
UPDATE 10/15/10: Qriosity works. The player does not support ISO files and the only video you can stream is DivX, WMV and MPEG. I was able to get WMV and MPEG to stream with TVMOBiLi by changing the extension to .divx . PlayOn and WMP 11 also works for streaming.
UPDATE 12/15/11: The player is still working great, I use it almost everyday. CinemaNow is now available.
on February 27, 2011
I've been running a home media server for years now, starting out originally with a rather noisy PC connecting to SageTV server and eventually working my way to an Asus O!Play, WD Live, and most recently, this SMP-N100. The direction of the technology is fantastic.
I wanted to like the SMP-N100, and for very base unit specifically just used to connect to Hulu Plus and NetFlix, the unit is certainly adequate. The picture quality is about as good as one can expect from such sources, and sound is decent. That being said, while it is advertised as capable of playing files from your home network, this is a bit of a play on words. In atypical Sony fashion (this is the same Sony that sold me a Sony CD writer and blank Sony branded CD-R's but refused to play burned music CD's in my Sony DVD Player due to piracy concerns), it sounds great in practice, but in reality, they deliberately fall short due to their own self-concerns on media piracy (due to their studio ownership). The unit supports home DLNA server, but only a small sample of video and audio formats, most of which are not realistic. It does not support the larger range of media formats it claims unless they are direct attached on the USB storage. There is no real reason the device is not capable of any of this, other than falling short on design.
To cut to the point, I got this for $90 on sale, and would suggest spending the extra $10 and buying a WD Live Plus, which encompasses all of the features found on this unit, plus wider media codec support and true in home network support. While WD is sometimes slow with firmware upgrades, they generally are the better of all the orgs I've used or been monitoring in this space. If you really want Sony, spend the extra few bucks for the Sony BluRay player with network connectivity that has functionally does similar.
on May 2, 2011
Before buying SONY SMP-N100 player, I bought Roku XDS mainly because it had a higher rating than this one. I finally returned it and settled down with this one. So this review is more like a comparison between Roku XDS and SMP-N100.
The physical setup are easy but they both require creating an online account on their web sites by a separate computer. Roku also asked for a Credit Card during creating the online account. To me being asked for CC is not a pleasure experience.
I used wireless for my Netflix streaming. XDS loads movies quicker than N100 but N100 also performs reasonably fast enough.
Both UI are straight forward. XDS remote control has fewer keys that makes entering numbers and letters a great pain. After 2 weeks of use, I found number and letter entering are only required during setting up wireless network and searching in channels.
When XDS is powered off, it simply goes into a screen saving mode. The surface temperature (after turned off for hours) suggested that XDS uses almost the same energy regardless of if it is turned off. When N100 is turned off, it's really going to a standby mode that does not waste any more energy. When powered on, XDS is instantly available (because it is never really turned off) while N100 needs about 10 seconds to start up. The energy consumption and the instant availability is really a design trade off and different users may see pros and cons differently.
USB media support:
XDS's USB media support is not official as of Apr 2011. Searched the internet and found the link and finally added USB channel on XDS just to realize the result is unacceptable: big black border area, poor rendering quality (yes, I do know the KBPS and the quality of the source), slow (very very slow) loading time for MKV files. N100 beats XDS on USB support. USB channel is built in (only appear in the channel list when a USB drive is plugged in); loading and rendering MP4, MKV without problem. I didn't do too much test here but I believe N100 definitely wins on this topic.
on December 4, 2010
I bought this as I saw it on the shelves for $99.00 and thought it may be all the things I've ever wanted in my Western Digital Media Player, and could use on our big television set for family use; the thinking was that Sony has finally done it all right. I take this home, start looking for all of my network shares, since Western Digital plays over the network any content I throw at it, and can't. Sony DOES NOT allow basic Windows shares to be accessed! Do not buy this if you expect to play a video from your laptop on the t.v. It will not work. I suppose if you're DLNA compliant, which means, you are drinking too much of the "Sony Kool-Aid". you could do it.
Ask the reviewers how many of them could rip their own DVD collection and stream them from a server to this Sony Media Player?? Not possible---there goes your freedoms; these companies are about keeping and maximizing their profits, and are not worried in the least that you can't play content you've already paid for.
Western Digital is a good choice for doing this; For Wireless, I use a gateway for the Wireless to Ethernet connection on the box and I'm happy.
Western Digital could learn more about good User Interfaces from Sony. And, Sony could learn about open and SUPPORTED standards from Western Digital.
I'm taking the Sony box back to Costco tommorow.
on March 12, 2011
This purchase was my first foray into the world of Netflix and other net to TV deliverable product and I am happy to say that this product has not disappointed!
The product itself is small, very easy to find a spot for among my other a/v electronics. Hook-up was super easy, HDMI cable (not included) to the TV, a/c adapter to the wall, and finally ethernet cable (also not included) to my router. I did choose to go 'wired' instead of using the device's built in wireless as it sits right next to my router and I wanted the best stream possible to the Sony unit. Setup was easy, the interface to me is very intuitive and soon I was connected. Back on my PC I signed up for Netflix and in about two minutes I was on Netflix with the Sony unit. As for Netflix movies, since purchasing this unit I have watched about 15 with no problems (my internet service is 12Mbps), great pic and audio. YouTube video's don't look as nice to me on my TV but I can't tell what resolution they are running at. Also for some strange reason, it won't list all my favorites through the Sony unit, only about 13 of 130 + If you search for them and find them that way, they will play but won't show up in my favorites, odd but no big deal. There are several other services on the unit, Crackle has free uncut movies (with an expedia commercial every 15 or so minutes) and also episodes of old TV shows. Amazon on-demand is also present. There is so much to explore that I haven't even begun to get through as my main purpose for buying this was Netflix.
I played around a little bit with streaming content from my PC (pics/videos/music) which I normally do using my XBOX360 and found the experience about the same.
Only issues I have with this unit so far are small ones.
1. It doesn't seem to connect to the internet right away. If I turn it on, then go to anything, say Netflix, it has to perform it's connection first and then I can navigate to the chosen service. I have to let it sit for a few minutes first, perhaps is takes some time to connect?
2. The navigation in certain areas does have some 'lag' to it. If you start multiple pressing of the buttons at that point it starts to do them all, best to have some patience with the controls.
3. Only once did I have the 'no audio' issue some have reported. I turned the unit off and then back on and I had audio again. Hopefully this will not be a common occurrence.
Bottom line is I am very pleased with this unit overall.
on December 12, 2010
I already have a WD media player that works great. I saw this at Costco and figured I could use one upstairs and it has wireless. I hooked it up and connected it to the internet with no problem. Youtube, Hulu and others worked great. Then I hooked up my 320gb external drive with all my movies on it, the same one I use on the WDTV. The Sony said this USB device isn't supported. I took the drive back down stairs and no problem it worked perfectly. I figured oh well I'll just stream the movies upstairs and not use the usb drive. I spent three hours using google and reading many different sites, but I could never get the thing to see my server. So it's going back. Didn't read my USB and not streaming my movies. It's not worth keeping just for internet TV for me.