Jul 05, 2012|
If you’ve got a big HD TV, you need to play big HD files to get the full experience—not to mention 3D TVs, which need even bigger files. That means the popular .AVI files, which mostly come in under 1GB, just don’t cut it anymore. Blu-Ray or 3D movies are now more commonly encoded in .MKV, and these files are much, much bigger (several gigabytes) because of their vastly increased resolution.
AppleTV, those little black boxes you’ve heard of but never actually seen sold at iStudio, are powerful tools to stream movies purchased through iTunes. But Apple only likes to play its own formats, which don’t include the aforementioned .MKV. As for streaming from US-based services like Hulu and Netflix, it just doesn’t work in Thailand. Unless you own a ton of iTunes-purchased movies, forget about AppleTV.
Recent game consoles actually have pretty powerful movie playback options—or at least they did. They too are starting to struggle with the latest file formats. MKV files don’t always work and 3D films are plain impossible to run.
Recent TVs and Blu-Ray players come with DLNA certification, which was meant to connect all our devices in one seamless streaming fest. In theory, you can stream a movie or even just pictures from any of your DLNA devices, such as a computer or Sony/Samsung mobile phone, to your TV. The problem with bigger HD files is that, here too, DLNA struggles to keep up with .MKV formats or offer the required bandwidth for a smooth experience.
Recent media streaming boxes connect to your TV through an HDMI port, and to your desktop over Wi-Fi. (You can also use an Ethernet network cable.) As such, they’re able to stream your HD movie files to your big screen. The most recent models all run on the Realtek 1186 chipset, so that while the boxes may look different, they all do nearly the same thing: play back recent HD file formats and even 3D, run on Android and browse HTML5.0 websites. Since these are Android devices, they can even run apps, although not always very well. They cost around B4,500-5,500 (see Streaming Stars, below).
Thailand is a pretty sad place for legal movie streaming. Netflix and Hulu are blocked here (making popular streaming boxes like AppleTV and Roku useless.) You can get a ViVo Cute S, though. It won’t play 3D movies, but it’s otherwise a solid device. For one, it’s compact and can run on your car’s cigarette lighter power outlet if you’d like to use it on the go. It can also be connected to a Thai keyboard and is loaded with RSS feeds from local news sources. Available at HD Corner (see Essentials) for B4,900.