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Samsung Smart Media Player: Is It Worth It?

If you own a Samsung Smart TV, you can access Netflix, Hulu Plus and other useful apps right from your television. If you don't own one, though, you could invest in Samsung's upcoming Smart Media Player. This set-top box will essentially turn any brand of TV into a Samsung Smart TV — if you don't mind its high $150 price tag.

If you own a smart TV or a video game console, set-top boxes might not be on your radar, but they can be a cheap way for people without those devices to access streaming video from their TVs. A number of devices exist to fill this space, including Roku, Apple TV and Chromecast.

The Smart Media Player, which will launch on Oct. 23, is a small, rectangular box that will use the same software as a Samsung Smart TV. In addition to watching TV (and accessing basic program guides), you can also stream movies and TV from the Samsung Media Hub. If you want to view your own photos and TV from a computer or mobile device, you can download an app and stream your content to the big screen.

MORE: Smart TV: From Yesterday to Tomorrow

Cable subscribers can also integrate your existing service with the Smart Media Player, without any tedious input-switching — provided that your cable company supports CableCARD technology. Keep in mind, though, that not every cable provider offers this technology, or allows users to provide their own cable boxes.

The real draw of the smart-TV software is its ability to run apps. In addition to browsing the Internet, a Samsung Smart TV can run video apps like Netflix, Hulu Plus and HBO Go. Whether you want to listen to Pandora or share your latest thoughts on Twitter, you can jump online right from your TV.

Since Samsung already has TV interface software, making its own set-top box seems like a fairly logical next step. Its price might prove to be a sticking point, however: The device will retail for $149.99. Compare this to similar devices: A basic Roku box costs $50, while an Apple TV will set you back $100. A Chromecast is only $35.

Another slight hitch is that consumers generally find Samsung's smart-TV interface to be usable but imperfect. The Web browser is slow and doesn't support applications like Flash. The interface itself lacks the snappy response of an Apple TV or the simplicity of a Chromecast.

Still, competition in a growing market is never a bad thing. If the Smart Media Player sounds like it's up your alley, just be sure to do your research first to ensure that a cheaper device wouldn't meet your needs just as well.

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  • ap3x
    I really like Samsung's products and have standardized on Samsung TV's in my homes. Also have a Samsung washer and dryer, but I have to say that I would never buy one of their peripheral solutions again. Bought 2 of their media center extenders and they connected and worked but the performance was so bad that they where virtually unusable.

    Media Center worked fine though Xbox but I hate having a full console on all the time.
    Reply
  • sykozis
    Cable subscribers can also integrate your existing service with the Smart Media Player, without any tedious input-switching — provided that your cable company supports CableCARD technology. Keep in mind, though, that not every cable provider offers this technology, or allows users to provide their own cable boxes.
    Does this thing actually have a CableCard slot on it? If so, I'll happily drop $150 on it to ditch the $16/month I'm paying Verizon for my DVR....
    Reply
  • monsta
    A Chromecast would do the job at a fraction of its price at $35 , so $150 is a lot for this.
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  • otacon
    @monsta

    Chromecast is nothing more than a crippled basic Roku. Not even worth $35.
    Reply
  • monsta
    You got a good point there Octacon.
    Why would anyone pay $150 for this when you can get a Smart Blu ray player for the same if not cheaper price that has these features plus more?
    Reply
  • milktea
    If this can replace my older Micca EP600, then I'm all for the upgrade (for something smarter).

    I need a media player that will support & play BDMV, BD-ISO, MKV, MOV, WMV, TS, FLV, BD/DVD-ISO, VOB, MP4 and "RM/RMVB".

    And it needs to be able to wireless access my fileserver using NFS/SAMBA.
    Reply
  • Jeff Burns
    the WD-Live series does most of that milktea
    Reply
  • sykozis
    If this thing supports CableCard, it can do much more than the Roku can and is well worth the $150 when you consider what TiVo sells for.

    @Otacon - CableCARD isn't as old as you seem to think it is. They didn't actually go into circulation until 2003. CableCARD is also federally mandated in the US by the FCC for digital cable and satellite TV.
    @Monsta - How exactly does a "smart Blu-ray player" have the same features? According to better written articles, this STB supports CableCARD, which means it can be used for digital cable or satellite as a replacement for the rented STB from the cable/satellite provider. Considering only 1 company currently sells a CableCARD compatible STB (and that's TiVo) to the general public, this is a big deal for those of us that are tired of being forced to pay rental fees on an STB to have cable.

    In the US, all cable providers who's service requires an STB, are required by law to provide subscribers with CableCARDs and permit the use of 3rd party STBs that are certified by CableLabs.... Currently, TiVo is the only one (still) on the market....this would be the second one when it launches.
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  • oj88
    $150 would be fair if it includes a Blu-ray player, or a 1TB hard drive for recording the streamed media.
    Reply
  • milktea
    @Jeff Burns
    You're right that WD-Live does most. And the keyword is 'most', which could mean a lot to some people.
    WD-Live does not support any form of ISO (BD/DVD), and not support for RMVB. It's a real pity. Because they have something good going, but just missing a few key items.
    By the way, the Micca is all metal and has no fan. So it's whisper quiet.
    Reply