If you have a decent TV, there’s no need to replace it with a smarter model just for the sake of internet TV services. The Philips HMP2000 is a set-top box that will allow services such as Netflix to be streamed to your telly.
This little box is modelled on the Apple TV and similarly won’t take up much space at 90mm wide and 100mm deep. But instead of a flat black box, the Philips is taller at the back to give a sloping top surface.
Its credit-card style remote is also very small, but that’s less of a benefit when it will so easy be lost between the sofa cushions. Its clunky buttons that demand you click with your nails are also not welcome.
The unit itself is very easy to install: just plug in the external power plug and HDMI cable to the TV, then log in to your wireless network to be up and running in a few minutes. There’s no ethernet option, nor separate sound output beside audio over HDMI.
The picture quality on Netflix is very good, providing you have a good internet connection. The Netflix service itself, with its catalogue of old TV programs for £5.99 per month, would seem to be the main justification for the Philips HMP2000. Netflix UK’s limited selection of films is not particularly impressive though.
Besides Netflix, the box offers Facebook and YouTube. If you’re used to using these services on your computer, be prepared for gnashing of teeth as you attempt to enter text with the aforementioned remote.
Finally, the Philips HMP2000 allows you to play media files from a USB memory stick or hard drive. A bonus here is the wide format compatibility – it will play a good variety of media, including DVD rips and .mkv files.
The only common file type we discovered that wouldn’t play is Apple Lossless, which is a shame now that the popular ALAC format is open source and available to all.
For a modest sum, this device could be recommended for the Netflix access, but anyone with a media library on their home network would be better served by a unit compatible with DLNA or UPnP network devices, to allow easy access to your media library through the same unit.
Smart TVs are becoming more common, and this could act as a useful stop-gap. It does of course require a spare HDMI socket, which on many older TVs won’t be an option.
You'll also need a stable internet connection, wireless network and an HDMI cable.