Searching for streaming media player

pichadpi

Commendable
Mar 8, 2016
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I've come to tom's frequently in the past for help from the community and always found great support. Most recently, I've been surprised how difficult (read, impossible) it has become to find a streaming media player to suit my needs.

Here is what I need from a streaming set top box:
- ethernet port for wired connection
- 3.5mm jack or 2-channel RCA audio out
- ability to stream media over local network
- ability to stream netflix
- ability to stream spotify

I've used a custom built htpc in the past, but the power consumption and footprint is ludicrously overkill for extremely modest requirements such as these.

Any help is appreciated!
 
Not that many choices, often mention AppleTV and ROKU.

ETHERNET: no prob.
RCA JACKS: going way of dinosaurs, you may have to contend with toslink.
Stream LAN: As long as you have a DLNA server on the LAN or running an iTunes server for AppleTV.
Netflix: Every Jack and Harriet runs netflix. You have to pay me to find somebody who doesn't run netflix.
 

pichadpi

Commendable
Mar 8, 2016
7
0
1,520
1


My needs are not unique to themselves, but there really aren't many choices that cover all these very basic things in a single box. For example, a surprising number of LAN media players are local media only and do not support Netflix or Spotify ... and vice versa.

I have resigned to the fact I'll just use an optical to analog converter box to give me the connection I need.

It seems I have the choice of
- an android tv box on the budget end, with the consideration that there will be much more setup, configuring, workarounds
- a KDLINKS A300 (also android) on the premium end, but seemingly rtg out of the box with a few extra bells and whistles
- or the old oversized, overpowered htpc I already own, but needs rebuilding and substantial setup for the same refined UI operation

Thanks for the comment jsmithepa. I'm going to leave this open on the chance someone has a suggestion of something I haven't thought of, but I'm feeling pretty confident I have my answer.
 

Marshall Honorof

Editor
Herald
Aug 1, 2013
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How vital are the RCA/3.5 mm ports? At the risk of giving you a non-techie answer, the Roku 4 has everything else you're asking for, plus an optical audio out, which you can probably convert to RCA.

It's not as good as having your own box with a flexible OS, I'll grant you, but it does run Netflix and Spotify, plus you can stream whatever you want via a variety of DLNA programs and/or Plex.

I wrote a review of it here: http://www.tomsguide.com/us/roku-4,review-3146.html. Again, it's aimed more toward a general consumer audience, but if there's some specific functionality that a closed-system player doesn't provide, let me know and I'll see if I can think of an alternative.

Good luck!
 

pichadpi

Commendable
Mar 8, 2016
7
0
1,520
1
@jsmithepa; that is very true. Naturally, I wanted a single box for the sake of simplicity and aesthetic, but many times the needs are best served with a couple specialized devices rather than one. Good point!

@Marshall Honorof; I had the impression all the Roku devices lacked the ability to stream over LAN, so I had written the whole line off. Yes, I would very likely be converting the optical out to be compatible with my aging, yet perfectly sufficient 2.1 audio setup. That is a great review of the Roku 4, and a very good suggestion! Thank you!

I did have another caveat - the ability to play spotify playlists offline - which I'm realizing is a pretty big caveat. I don't believe the Roku app, or any other closed system app for that matter, has that ability - though Android TV may since offline playlists are possible on phones & tablets. For this reason, I'm increasingly convinced my htpc may be the most practical, albeit most arduous option.

Still, there's a very good chance I purchase a Roku 4 anyway, as there happens to be another location it'd work beautifully ...just not the location I set out to resolve. Figures.

Thanks!
 
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