It used to be that video came to our homes in one of two ways: through the TV, or through a VHS tape. Then came DVD, then came the internet, and then came mediageddon.
Now we can get anything we want, any time we like. That’s the simple part, because now we also have to decide how we want to watch it. Luckily, we have put together a list of neat video hardware that will help you convert and push your media around the home, and even outside.
Best Video Converter
Elgato Turbo.264 HD – $99
For those of you with honking fast new computers, you can skip this one. Anyone else can spend just $100 (list – you can find it cheaper) and enjoy lightning-fast video conversion into Mac or iOS-friendly formats. The dongle slides into a USB port and can be seen my many third-party apps, or Elgato’s own included Turbo.264 converter ($50 if bought separately).
Best Set Top Box
C’mon. What did you expect? Not only is it easy to set up and use, the Apple TV can stream Netflix, display videos and photos from your iOS device via AirPlay and download movies and TV shows from iTunes. All this for just $100.
Best Media Center
If the Apple TV isn’t enough for you, or if you prefer to stream media to your iPad for watching in bed, then the Mac Mini is the box to beat. You can set up all kinds of media-server software on there, or just run it as a headless media box. Bonus: now available without a stupid optical drive, leaving extra space for HDDs.
Best Media Server
Or you can keep things simple, and just buy a NAS which can also send media to your iDevices. The WD MyBook Live works with companion iOS software to stream video, music and photos. Now your 16GB iPad can cope with your multi-terabyte movie collection.
Best Nerd Recording Device
Game Capture HD – $200
The Game Capture HD hooks up to your Xbox or Playstation and sends high-def video to your Mac where it is captured, ready for uploading to YouTube. What’s more, you can still output the live video signal to any TV via HDMI. Leeeerooooy JENKINS!
Best Personal Cloud
The cheap PogoPlug 4 is a little box that hooks up to your network and makes any of your hard drives available to you over the internet. It’s like a cloud, only in reverse, with the extra benefit that you can use it to stream media to your iPad and iPhone (although the Pogoplug app is pretty fugly).
Lame? No way. This little (overpriced) adapter takes the video from your iPad and displays it on any HDMI TV or projector. It also features a 30-pin dock connector so you can keep the iPad charged while you’re using it, and even works with the iPhone and iPod Touch.
Best iOS Home TV Setup
For those of you unable to cut the cord, consider the Home Run. It hooks up to your cable TV, or to an antenna, and its dual tuners then beam the shows to your computer or over Wi-Fi to your iPad or iPhone. Only free-to-“air” cable is supported, but any terrestrial TV channels will work (making this a better bet in Europe).
And if you combine it with Elgato’s Eye TV software, you have a time-shifting PVR in there too.