Hands on: Sony’s $129 N100 Media Player ‘Does More Than Roku’
New SMP-N100 is a DLNA client that streams local content, as well as Netflix, YouTube, Amazon, Pandora and other Internet services; includes USB port, HDMI, WiFi.
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August 24, 2010 by Julie Jacobson

If you like the streaming capabilities of Sony Blu-ray players, you’ll love the new SMP-N100 Network Media Player.

Electronic House sister publication CE Pro enjoyed a sneak preview of the player at Sony headquarters in San Diego last week. The product will be unveiled publicly at a press event in New York this week.

This SMP-N100 has everything the Sony BDP-S570 has, minus the Blu-ray drive and plus the support of additional video formats including DivX and MKV.

And the suggested retail price is only $129, meaning the street price may eventually come in around the $100 mark. That puts the product into contention with other standalone media streamers like those from Roku, Popbox and Western Digital.

Streaming Services
For starters, the SMP streams Sony’s full suite of Bravia Internet services including Netflix, YouTube, Amazon VoD, Pandora; exclusive channels such as FIFA (back when), Michael Jackson, Dr. Oz and the Berliner Philharmoniker; popular online channels such as Slacker, NPR, Crackle, Wired and Epicurious.com; and Sony’s own Qriocity VoD service that is tied to the PlayStation Network.

Basically, you can get most of the same services offered by the other streaming players, with one glaring exception: There’s no Hulu or Boxee.

That is expected to change this year when Sony releases Hulu Plus to all of its Bravia Internet-enabled displays and players. For now, you can head to the Crackle tab on the Bravia Internet menu and get something pretty darn close to Hulu.

What you won’t see in the N100 is Google TV, says Jeff Muto, product planning manager for Sony’s Home Audio & Video Group.

“It’s not integrated now,” he tells CE Pro. “Their strength is searching the wide-open Internet. In this [N100] case, we’ve packaged the content it for you. … Each of the services looks the same with a consistent UI [user interface].”

Sony announced a few months ago that it would implement Google TV in its CE devices but the company has not detailed its plans.

Bonus Features: DLNA, 802.11n, USB
Unlike most of the other inexpensive players on the market, the SMP-N100 lets users stream content stored on the home network – not just services from the cloud.

Being a DLNA-compliant client, the unit automatically recognizes any DLNA server on the network, including PCs, NAS devices and more. If you have pictures, music or videos (hopefully of the legally ripped variety) on a DLNA drive at home, you can watch it through the SMP.

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Julie Jacobson - Editor-at-large, CE Pro
Julie Jacobson is co-founder of EH Publishing and currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro, mostly in the areas of home automation, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. She majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. Julie is a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player with the scars to prove it. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson.

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