Sony have become the latest tech giants to jump into the burgeoning market of internet media players. Their new N100 Network Media box combines streaming client, Wi-Fi and BRAVIA Internet Video in one sleek little package.
The player looks lovely enough, with a cool monolithic design that matches Sony’s state-of-the-art Bravia TVs. Its ultra-compact size is also a boon for minimalist fans, not least because the awkward, sticky-out bits usually featured on such players are built into the design or tucked away inside, to keep things as neat as possible.
So, all things considered, the device is definitely a winner in the style stakes, but what exactly can you do with it? Well, it’s more a case of what can’t you do?
The basis of the Network Media Player is the Bravia internet function that Sony uses on its top-edge digital TVs and has now adapted it into this standalone unit. The player makes big use of catch-up TV services, allowing easy access to BBC iPlayer and Demand Five. It also puts Hollywood blockbusters (or arty offerings, if that’s more your thing) at users’ fingertips by allowing them to order films from Lovefilm or the Qriocity-powered on-demand film service, giving instant access to an array of titles in HD or standard definition.
As for the technical stuff, the unit has 080P video output on HDMI and compatibility with the latest HD audio codecs, including dts 2.0+Digital Out and Dolby Digital Plus. It can play almost all film formats and audio tracks as well as content including DivXHD, MKV and AVCHD files locally via a front-panel USB socket. And there’s also functions allowing content to be streamed from network storage, in addition to IP Content Noise Reduction to clean up streamed video and free iPhone/iPod Touch/Android control apps.
In short, it sounds like a media-lover’s dream (and a Luddite’s worst nightmare). The unit is being touted by Sony as a simple, one-stop entertainment station that provides consumers with a full home cinema experience. With a huge array of functions and such an enticing design, it’s difficult to spot any obvious flaws with the product. The big test will be how it squares up against its rivals in such a highly competitive marketplace.
There’s no word on price yet, but the Sony N100 Network Media Player will be available to buy from October.