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Choosing Your Best Option

As you can see, quite a number of well-publicized and lesser-known options are available for expanding your home entertainment system with an Internet-enabled set-top box. Some systems focus on bringing almost all the power of a computer to your TV (Google TV, the Boxee Box). Other units include Internet and personal content in addition to more traditional features (TiVo, LG players, Xbox Live). Some devices simply focus on delivering your personal media (music, movies, TV shows from various sources, or home movies and photos) as well as a set of Internet content options to your TV in a package that is affordable and easy to set up and use (Apple TV, Roku, WD TV Live Plus).

Most set-top boxes are designed to pair with one or more subscription, purchase, or rental options to deliver premium content (Netflix, Amazon Video on Demand, iTunes, TiVo, Zune).

To find the best choice for you and your family, think about these four basic questions:

  • What features do we really need/want?
  • How comfortable are we with using complicated features? (There's no sense in buying something that you or half your family may not want to bother figuring out.)
  • What services are we willing to purchase, rent, or subscribe to?
  • How much do we want to spend?

Your answers to these four questions will help you to narrow down the choices offered by the impressive options we've explored in this guide.

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