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Picking the right media streaming box requires finding a balance between content and features. There are plenty of choices available, but none of them gets everything right – usually you'll get plenty of popular streaming services with one option but poor support for streaming local files, or vice versa. A new contender called Plair doesn't come without trade offs, but its diversity of sources and simple setup are worth noting.
Making an appearance at Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Plair is a small dongle that plugs into a free HDMI port on your TV and receives video over Wi-Fi from for Android, iOS, OS X and Windows.
Along with local content stored on your mobile device or computer, you can watch shows and online videos from partner channels on plair.com/channels and in the channels area on the mobile apps. That includes content from the likes of ABC, NBC and Fox, as well as internet sites like YouTube and CollegeHumor. There are close to 40 supported sources listed on the company's website between traditional TV networks and web-based broadcasters, with more sources to be added over time. Hulu and Netflix are not supported, though.
Plair will automatically select the best possible video quality based on the source and your internet connection. All in all it's a pretty straghtforward solution for getting content onto the big screen, somewhat like Airplay but compatible with all major platforms and so simple to setup that you can take it anywhere.
Black, magenta and teal versions of the device will start shipping in late January for $99.