>I like movies…always have…always will. Besides programming, and soccer, it has been one of my constant hobbies. I’ve built a Home Theater PC, have a dedicated room in the house for watching movies, and TV shows I record using GBPVR.
The one thing I’ve been waiting for a while has been the ability of doing good quality streaming of video content to the TVs in the house. Sure I could build a home theater PC and hook it up to the tvs, but I don’t want or need a computer hooked to the television. I just want to easily stream content to my tv when I want. I had high hopes for the LinkSys DSM-320 when it first came out because of it’s wireless connectivity. However, it was always plagued by problems with streaming quality (constant disconnections, poor sound quality, etc).
With the economic downturn, I needed to find a way to cut out some expenses. I don’t have digital cable, and don’t plan on getting it. Basic cable does what I need and the shows I watch are available there. I do pay for a good high speed connection to the net, and have several friends that have been using Netflix for years. I recently signed up for Netflix after the local grocery store switched to those awful $1 DVD movie rental machines that have started popping up every where. With NetFlix, we just pay the lowest unlimited rate of $9.95 a month, and get a movie at a time out. Which is fine, as the new feature of Watch it Instantly has enough content that it makes up for the lack of getting multiple DVDs out at a time.
I run linux at home, the HTPC and my wife’s computer is still Windows, so until Moonlight 2.0 is out the only place we could use the Watch Instantly feature was on that one. (True I could run a web browser in the theater room, but it’s not what I want to do). Which is fine, as she used that much more than she has thought. Particularly being able to catch up on old TV episodes and series. However, I still wanted a way to watch these same shows on the TV or Theater Room. So I checked out the reviews for the Roku Netflix player. It was getting decent reviews, and at about $100, was about $60 less than what I had paid for the disappoint in the DSM-320.
Let me say, that this is what a consumer expects. It just works as advertised. Plug it in, follow the on-screen prompts, and I was up and running in about 5 minutes. I did go in and update the firmware to the latest version. It was a painless process, and a reboot later the latest firmware was in place.
I run the device in wireless mode. I don’t have a house that has built in CAT-5 connections, and I don’t like running Ethernet cable throughout the house. The TV I have this hooked too is a Standard Definition 56 inch rear projection system that I bought back in 1998. It’s a good quality Toshiba and has done very well. The quality bars stays between 3 and 4 for me, so on the SD set, it still looks pretty close to DVD quality. The wireless connection in the house is standard G, not N, and I have only had occasional instances where it has had to rebuffer.
The other advantage to the Roku player is it’s size. It’s about the size of a portable DVD player, which makes it ideal for traveling on business trips. Especially if the hotel room you are staying in allows external devices to be hooked to the TV. I haven’t tried this yet, but next vacation I go on, this device is coming with us. Compared to getting ripped off at a hotel for a $13.95 on demand movie, just hook up the Roku device and you have instant access to all your movies from your Netflix account.
I’ve been using the box pretty consistently for the past week, and it just works. I have to give credit to Roku and Netflix for taking the time to make sure they delivered a quality product. This is the way streaming should be. The selling point for me was that this was a one time fee, and it came with my existing Netflix subscription.