More and more households are cutting the cord and opting for legally or otherwise obtained content. This opens up a whole new world of potential holiday gifts! You could get your significant other any number of available media streamers to fancy HTPC remotes to even a subscription to various media services. But there’s no need to aimlessly wander the aisles of Amazon in search of the perfect gift. We’re rounded up the best in this category for you. Consider it one of your stocking stuffers from us.
The Boxee Box is without a doubt the best, family-friendly media streamer on the market. There’s a few bugs as of writing, but it neatly displays and organizes local network content and Internet content in a beautiful interface. Best of all, it fetches movie and TV show info for network-stored content without user intervention. It’s idiot-proof on both the user experience and downloading sides. At $200, it’s a tad pricey for a secret Santa gift, but just about right for your significant other.
Maybe the Boxee Box is a tad out of your price range. That’s fine the Western Digital TV, or WD TV, is a fine alternative. It’s a favorite among media pirates because of it’s sub-$100 price and ability to play just about every file. More expensive models add in local storage, wireless networking support and Internet streaming app support for Netflix, Pandora, and Blockbuster.
HTPCs can be a pain, but if your spouse is constantly complaining about the PS3 not supporting all the media formats or that the Boxee Box just isn’t the same as Boxee desktop, it’s probably time for a bonafide computer. Dell Zino HD’s are a good bet too. They’re small, powerful, and can even be configured with a Blu-ray drive.
Wanna round out the HTPC gift? Or perhaps there’s already a HTPC in your living room but you’re forced to use a mouse and keyboard. Check out this Lenovo Remote. It’s a fine product and is about the best way to control a HTCP from a couch. There’s a full QWERTY keypad and a trackball, which works great for everything from Boxee to Internet browsing. Don’t pay full retail, though. This remote can often be found under $50.
The Lenovo Remote mentioned above is about to get a bit of competition. The little dual-side Boxee remote is going on sale and for only $50 retail, will probably make a splash with the HTPC crowd. It’s small, full-featured and about the best way to control Boxee. However, there’s no trackpad so it’s not that great for general browsing. Still, if Boxee is your HTPC software of choice, put this on your holiday wish list.
The Apple TV is cheap and a great compliment to iOS devices. It’s by far the easiest way to get media stored on an iPhone to the living room TV. As a media streamer, it’s kind of a joke compared to others and nothing more than a Netflix box. But it works well and coders are furiously attacking the device with the hope of freeing it from its Apple jail. Once that happens, expect wild and crazy apps. So buy now for the iOS integration but expect to use it later to run all sorts of apps.
You can never have enough storage and with 2TB hard drives around the $100 mark, make this a stocking stuffer. Pro tip: Don’t buy 3TB hard drives right now; 2TB is better for the money.
If all the illegal downloading makes you a bit nervous, how about giving the gift of Netflix. For only $7.99 a month, you and yours could stream a ton of content legally through literally dozens of devices. Netflix works through the Wii, PS3, Xbox, iPhone, Apple TV, Roku, many HDTVs, new and old TiVos, and so much more. It’s a fantastic service for a fair price.