Not so long ago, home entertainment systems consisted of a TV, VCR and hi-fi devices that filled the gaps between the more traditional pastimes of cinema, concerts and theatre.
These days, however, as household purse strings are forced to tighten, services such as Netflix, Spotify and reality video blogs on YouTube have gained ever more prominence in our lives.
The multimedia companies have been fighting a global war for territory and technology, cramming as many features together as possible to catch our attention. It seems every new day brings another media system to the market, making the decision of which to purchase more difficult.
I chose the WD TV Live Media Player due to various factors such as cost and how it handles free and subscription services, but your priorities may be other elements such as media storage or connectivity; it's important that you understand what you want to achieve with a system before you make the leap.
Good points? The player comes with a wealth of services and the option of more via plugins. All the major players are present such as Netflix, Spotify, iPlayer and YouTube.
Connection is seamless via cable or wireless from the WD to a broadband router and was set up in minutes. If you don't have a requirement for internet-based services then the WD offers connection to local and networked devices such as your PC, laptop, NAS (network-attached storage) and USB-stored content.
Other media players can struggle with less familiar file formats but not the WD. It displays AVI, XVID and everything inbetween with full HD quality. Audio playback is also impressive, decoding every file type in my music library with no hint of interruption or lag.
Images can also be displayed and searched easily, meaning there's no need to sort through countless photo albums to find the right embarrassing picture to show your children's friends when their back is turned. The layout of the menus is logical, clutter free and accessed by the brilliantly designed remote control which fits in the hand perfectly unlike the many unwieldy offerings of rival systems.
Bad points? There is no internal storage but this feature is offered in the later model. Streaming services, like mobile applications, depend on the media partners they've signed up so some may be omitted.
Best for? Those looking for an economical alternative to cable and satellite TV.
Avoid if … You're a sports fan, as there's little in the way of live action unless baseball is your game of choice.
Score 9/10. This is a brilliant all-round media player with a plethora of features that won't break the bank.
l WD TV Live Media Player, £84 (wd.com)