Apple contender: Apple TV ($99)
Alternative: Roku 2 XD ($79)
Apple TV is great for Apple fans who want to integrate all their media and have access to all their iTunes files via their living room or use their Apple mobile device as a remote. Beyond that the perks stop at Netflix, Hulu, Major League MLB.tv, NBA League Pass, Vimeo, YouTube and Flickr and NHL Game Center. That's wonderful and all, but if you're less keen on mirroring your Mac screen on your television and more concerned with cutting the cable cord, the similarly priced Roku 2 XD holds far more value. For one, it gives Amazon Prime customers access to their Amazon Instant Video shows and movies and gives Wal-Mart ( WMT)-held Vudu customers a link to their television and film content. It also pipes in music from P ( Pandora) and Rdio, content from Crackle, NBC News, Disney.com ( DIS) and CBSSports.com and gives viewers their pick of video games. If you're looking to link up Apple devices, there's really no other streaming box choice. If you care more about the content than making all your toys communicate, though, the Roku 2 is really worth considering. -- Written by Jason Notte in Boston. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte. >To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/notteham. >To submit a news tip, send an email to: email@example.com.