When we reviewed Seagate's FreeAgent Theater+ USB media player last year, we gave it good marks but lamented the fact that it didn't offer the Netflix streaming capabilities of the Roku HD Player. Well, now Seagate's added Netflix streaming via a firmware upgrade, so we'll have to update our review and eliminate that critical sentence.
If you're new to the whole USB media player category, it goes something like this: storage brands like Western Digital, Seagate, and Iomega are looking for ways to tap into the growing number of consumers who have multimedia files stored on their computers and want to bring them to their TVs without much fuss. Of course, game consoles such as the PS3 and Xbox 360 offer similar functionality as part of their extensive repertoire (as do some Blu-ray players), but products like Seagate's FreeAgent Theater+ Media Player are targeting a more price-conscious consumer who doesn't want--or need--to deal with a full-fledged console.
The bare-bones version of the FreeAgent costs $99 but Seagate also sells packages with a FreeAgent drive bundled in (read our full review here). You can play a wide variety of video file formats stored on the drive--you copy files to the drive from your computer--or you can stream files from your computer over your home network. While the Theater+ HD includes an Ethernet port, it lacks a built-in Wi-Fi connection like the Roku HD Player has. Perhaps Seagate will add it in the next generation of the hardware.