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Definition: digital media hub

A digital media hub is a device that streams multimedia content from the Internet to a stereo, TV or home theater system. The media hub, which is known by an abundance of names (see digital media hub terminology), connects to the user's network via Ethernet or Wi-Fi and to an HDMI port in the TV or A/V receiver. Music-only hubs connect to the audio inputs of a sound system (see A/V ports).

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

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

A Local Network Streamer as Well
Although hubs are popular for access to Netflix, Hulu and other content providers, they can also stream photos, music and videos from computers in the home network. To stream local content, Apple TV users must run iTunes in their PCs or Macs, and Roku hubs require Plex (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.

Blu-ray Player and Media Hub
Loaded with features, the Oppo BDP-103 plays Blu-ray 3D, converts 2D to 3D and streams video from Netflix, YouTube and other sources. It also plays SACD and DVD-Audio discs and streams Rhapsody and Pandora audio. (Images courtesy of Oppo Digital, Inc., www.oppo.com)

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