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2011 was a big year for digital entertainment. It brought us expanded content options for the Apple TV, the tenth anniversary of the iPod, iTunes Match, AirPlay to the masses, and more.

Apple TV makes new friends

The second-generation Apple TV may have been released in 2010, but it was 2011 when the diminutive set-top streaming device really expanded beyond its borders. Sure, it shipped with Netflix streaming built in, but in March Apple added support for streaming sports subscription content from MLB.TV and NBA League Pass (in addition to supporting Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound for Netflix streaming). And in October, the Apple TV got another major software boost, this time gaining National Hockey League subscription support, as well as a Wall Street Journal Live section, and AirPlay Mirroring for the iPhone 4S and iPad 2.

Rumors also swirled mid-year about Apple buying up streaming video service Hulu, which would have added another facet to Apple’s video-delivery business. But like so many rumors, this one has not come to pass.

At the same time, Roku delivered the latest editions of its portable streaming devices, with the Roku 2 lineup—all of which cost the same or less than the Apple TV. The new Roku models look strikingly similar to the Apple TV (the sincerest form of flattery, no?) and add support for games and a Bluetooth remote control. In October, the company added a somewhat stripped-down LT model for $50, giving users even more options.

For those interested in how the Roku models stack up against the Apple, check out “Apple TV vs. Roku: Which is right for you?”.

It seems that the living room is no longer a hobby when it comes to delivering digital media. In addition to the Apple TVs and Rokus of the world, there are many TVs, Blu-ray players, and game consoles with streaming video and music services built into them. Yet the content remains the elusive piece of the puzzle, as media companies continue to avoid fully embracing the New World Order.

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