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Definition: digital media hub

A set-top box that switches streaming services from the Internet to a stereo, TV or home theater system. Digital media hubs contain built-in apps for various streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu, and additional apps may be downloaded and installed similar to programs on a computer or mobile device.

Apple TV and Roku are the most widely known media hubs; however, this same functionality is also built into smart TVs, Blu-ray players and A/V receivers. See digital media hub terminology.

Servers Are Hubs with Storage
A media "server" is a hub that also stores its own content (see digital media server).

A Local Network Streamer
Although hubs are popular for access to Internet-based streaming services, they can also stream photos, music and videos from computers in a home network. Apple TV users run a photo sharing app such as iTunes, while Roku hubs require the Plex server (see Apple TV, iTunes, Roku and Plex). See smart TV, Fire TV, Android TV, Media Center Extender, A/V receiver and digital convergence.

Media Hub Connections
Digital media hubs hook into the network over Wi-Fi or Ethernet and to the A/V equipment via HDMI. Earlier hubs had analog outputs for old TVs. Music-only hubs connect to the audio inputs on a sound system (see A/V ports).

The Roku Home Screen
Digital media hubs such as this Roku unit display available streaming services like apps on a smartphone, tablet or computer.

Blu-ray Players May Also Be Hubs
This earlier Oppo BDP-103 streams video from Netflix, YouTube and other networks. It plays SACD and DVD-Audio discs and also streams Pandora. (Images courtesy of Oppo Digital, Inc.)

Clever, But No Longer
One of the few non-Apple products that supported Apple's iTunes, this Roku SoundBridge hub (top of cabinet) was the only music hub with a display large enough to read from a distance. See Roku.