Broadband-enabled streaming devices from Microsoft (MSFT - Get Report), Roku, Apple (AAPL - Get Report) and Sony (SNE - Get Report), so clearly beat the Google TV appliance from Logitech it should leave investors asking the search and mobile giant if staying in the game is worth it.
At the annual online video conference, "Streaming Media East" in New York Tuesday, the devices best and worst features were on display for the assembled industry leaders and media.
When compared on available content, the Roku XDS is the clear winner. For $99 this tiny black box packs a punch in 1080p HD. The Roku delivers Hulu Plus, Netflix (NFLX) and Amazon Instant (AMZN - Get Report) for wide selection of pay per stream content covering the majority of the available services, shows and movies. Roku excels at event platforms also with MLB.TV, NBA League Pass, NHL Game Center and UFC all available to paying customers.Only Apple TV and TiVO Premiere (TIVO - Get Report) can match the hardware cost but neither can equal the content array. Apple TV is the only way to access the iTunes library for streaming and while you can get Netflix, no Hulu or Amazon access is available and the sports selection is limited to MLB and NBA. TiVO Premiere can match Roku on the streaming movie services but comes up empty on sports for streaming. The three game consoles are a mixed bag at best as a streaming solution. All have access to Netflix, Sony's Playstation 3 and Microsoft's Xbox adds Hulu, while Nintendo doesn't, and none let you stream from Amazon. The game consoles are sure to get more attention in the coming quarters led by HBO as they plan to roll out the new streaming service HBO Go from Time Warner (TWX - Get Report) in the fourth quarter of this year on some unspecified game consoles. The clear loser in the streaming box battle is Google TV by Logitech and that's a disappointing surprise. At $249, it is the most expensive non-gaming appliance and offers no more options than average: Netflix, Amazon, NBA and of course, YouTube.