TVs and Blu-ray players with integrated smart functionality are hot property right now, but they’re expensive too. If you can’t afford to upgrade, then you could check out Philips’ latest range of HD media players, which provide a cheaper way of bringing internet-connected services into your living room.
The HMP2000 is the entry level model in Philips’ four-strong range. For just £50, you get a discreet black box that sits next to your TV and streams internet content, including Netflix movies, using its built-in Wi-Fi connection. It even plays media from local storage devices, all of which is great news if your older HD TV lacks this sort of functionality. Further up the range Philips adds wider format support, extra web content and more connections, but this basic box is merely an introduction to the world of smart functionality.
The box itself is compact and bijou, measuring 90 x 50 x 100mm. It’ll sit snugly on top of a Blu-ray deck or TV receiver, taking up no more room than an IR extender. It’s styled in a sleek gloss black finish with a forward-sloping top panel, and while its bodywork is hardly luxurious, it’s solidly put together. A single LED is embedded into the front edge, indicating the power status.
On the rear panel is an HDMI output, joined by a USB 2.0 port on the side for connecting flash drives and viewing video and photo files on your TV. Installation is easy – plug it in, hook up your HDMI cable and away you go.
Once fired up, you can use the crisp onscreen displays to explore the available online content, which is undeniably limited. This is where the HMP2000 falls down as an alternative to true smart services – most disappointing is the lack of BBC iPlayer, a driving force behind the whole smart TV culture.
Philips is therefore billing the HMP2000 as a dedicated movie streaming box and at the heart of that is Netflix. Having only recently launched in the UK, its current movie offering is fairly disappointing (The Pacifier, anyone?) but there’s a decent array of TV shows on there and once more studios jump on board this could grow into an essential service. You’ll need a Netflix membership package with unlimited streaming (£5.99 a month).
It’s joined by YouTube, Facebook, Picasa and AccuWeather.com, the latter adding a widget to the homepage giving the weather and temperature in your location.
The USB feature allows you to play video formats including MPEG-1/2, H.264, MKV, VC-1, WMV, as well as BMP, GIF, JPEG, PNG and TIFF photo formats. There’s no support for DivX though (a casualty of the lower price point) although it’s found on the step-up models. This device also plays music files, including MP3, WMA, WAV, AAC and (best of all) FLAC.
Great, but Philips missed an opportunity by omitting DLNA or uPnP network streaming from the feature list, which would have enhanced its credentials as an all-round media player.