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Sony SMP-N100 network media player makes us Qurious

We love video, and we love it even more when it's delivered over the Internet's tubes and pipes. Sony accepts this fact, and has created a new network media player for us and your good selves.

One of the highlights of Sony's TVs and Blu-ray players this year has been the inclusion of Bravia Internet Video. The service allows access to a multitude of online video on your home-cinema equipment. Now Sony has announced the SMP-N100 network media player, which offers the same service for people without any of the aforementioned hardware -- and potentially for much less money.

This product is clearly aimed at the sort of person who would consider shelling out for Apple TV, but who wants some useful UK services, which Apple continues to fail to provide. Sony thinks it can tempt users away from the almighty chewed fruit by providing access to services like BBC iPlayer and Demand Five, as well as movie streaming from LoveFilm. Interestingly, Sony claims this device will 'clean up' Internet feeds too -- no, not eradicating smut, but improving picture quality.

Sony is also attempting to beat Apple at its own game with QriocityTM, a music and high-definition-movie download service. Yes, that's right -- Sony wants us to know that the word Qriocity is a registered trademark, just in case we thought that this pustule on the posterior of the English language were a real word. Despite its infuriating name, Qriocity is quite a good idea, and we're excited about the potential of a universal service.

Even more exciting is the fact that Sony seems more format-agnostic than before. The SMP-N100 will include support for popular Internet formats like MKV, AVCHD and DivX HD. While that will make the head honchos at Sony Pictures slightly nervous, it's good news for the consumer who gets video from a number of different places. The presence of a video store on the SMP-N100 should also encourage people to spend their money on legitimate content, as is the case with Apple TV.

Sony provides a free iPhone app that controls the device -- this is already available for its Blu-ray players -- and has also announced an Android app. Network access can either be wireless or wired but, unlike many media streamers, Wi-Fi connectivity is built-in.

With an expected retail price of £120, the SMP-N100 represents a sensible bit of competition for devices like the Western Digital WD TV and Apple TV. The only problem we can see is that some of Sony's superb Blu-ray players cost the same, and offer much of the same functionality. Sony has promised to lend us an SMP-N100 as soon as possible, so we'll let you know what we think when we get our mitts on one.