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Roku

Roku was the first set-top box to deliver Netflix streaming directly to the TV—in fact, that was the sole function of Roku boxes when they first launched. Today, Roku offers three set-top box options, ranging from $59 to $99, making Roku the least expensive option of all major Internet-enabled TV products.

In addition to Netflix streaming, Roku offers access to Amazon Video on Demand and Hulu Plus for video (plus MLB.com for baseball fans). Audio sources include Pandora and MP3tunes as well as a selection of Internet radio options. Photo browsing is supported from Facebook, Flickr, Vimeo, and a handful of lesser-known sites. Roku has been engaging other online partners such as NASA TV, and it's likely to offer even more web video and audio content in the future.

All Roku boxes offer HD-quality video, but the top-of-the-line Roku XD-S ($99) also offers access to your personal videos, music, and photos as well as a USB port for attaching an external hard drive or Flash drive containing videos, music, and photos (though the range of file formats supported is limited to MP4, MPS, and M4A for A/V and JPG/PNG for photos).

A/V connections supported: Varies by model. All models offer composite video and HDMI as well as analog audio; higher-end models offer TOSLINK digital audio and component video out.

Pros: Easy setup; access to a wide range of Internet content; very affordable price points; component audio out.

Cons: Somewhat basic interface; requires subscription/rental accounts for access to premium content.

Best for: Anyone who wants access to the major streaming content sources in a low-cost, easy to use solution.

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