That said, no two media centres are alike. Still today too many are lagging behind when it comes to reading HD movies via home networks and too few brands are making the effort to polish their interfaces. Because, now that file format compatibility has grown to suit most people’s needs, it’s time for brands to get cracking at their interfaces.
We’re impressed with the progress jukebox systems have made in the past year. It’s now quick and easy to find info about movies and the visual styles are often tasteful and fun with movie posters, summaries, cast info, and so on. And if you know your way around your media centre you can even get information about your music to display alongside your favourite albums and tracks.
A few Android media centres have even sprouted up, but the concept still needs time to mature. These hasty, quick-get-it-out releases have often done little more than ride the wave of popularity that Google’s operating system has witnessed; they’ve rarely hit their mark and some have even prompted big-name brands to bail out of the sector altogether. We’re hoping to see some more developed models hit the market in coming months—ones that are better thought-out with a version of Android that’s better optimised for use on a TV.
Syabas confirms its status as a serious player in the media centre market with the excellent Popcorn Hour A-300 and its incredibly user-friendly interface. While not much more than a simple upgrade of the previous model, the innovations are there, and the built-in jukebox brings real added value.
Best of the rest
Experts and Pros
HDI Dune HD Duo
This is an excellent media centre. Multimedia format support is practically flawless and there are plenty of onboard options, including a media jukebox. Plus, there's room for two HDDs!
The V8 is an excellent media centre that offers easy access to your content. Although it does lack a few minor functions, it's still a great choice for film enthusiasts. Plus, the built-in movie jukebox builder is a real plus.
TizzBird burst onto the market with this Android-based media centre packed with advanced functions. There are plenty of manufacturer updates too, bringing new options and boosted functionality.