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Roku Netflix Player Review

By May 7, 2009Reviews


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roku-netflix-player

Okay, okay, so it also plays Amazon videos.  I went the netflix route however.  The box is absolutely tiny and is surprisingly functional.  If you want a player that is cheap and easy to use, then the Roku Digital Video Player may be for you.

The box itself is cheap.  You can pick it up for around $100.  I’ve seen some on craigslist for cheaper.  I bought it retail.  As you can see from the picture above, the player itself has a lot of connectivity for such a small box.  The box itself fits in the palm of my hand.  I was shocked at how small it was.  Because of my setup, I ran HDMI video to the TV and optical audio to the receiver.  Unfortunately, movies from Netflix are currently only stereo.  Blah.

The setup for the Roku player could not be simpler.  I’m serious.  It took me all of about 3 minutes.  It doesn’t come with HDMI, optical, component, or composite cables – unless you buy a bundle.  Amazon has a Roku bundle with HDMI and optical audio cables for $119. Also, Roku can handle wired or wireless internet connections.  Yes, it also does WPA encryption.  Man, have to love this little box!  Setting up my netflix account on the box is as simple as going to an activation screen on netflix and entering a code from the Roku setup wizard.  That’s it.  Now, you have your selection of Netflix’s instant movie catalogue.  No, it can’t play the entire Netflix catalogue.  I wish it could.  Once you add movies to your queue on Netflix from your computer, they show up in your queue on the Roku player.  You can then watch to your hearts content.  By the way, Netflix queue management isn’t the greatest.  If you want to sort the queue to your heart’s content, I would suggest you get greasemonkey for Firefox.  It’s a plugin.  Once you have that, go and get the Netflix queue greasemonkey script.  That will allow you to sort it the way you like.  Works great.

Watching a movie is pretty much a joy.  It loads fast.  The fast forward feature is a little hokey and cumbersome.  I wouldn’t doubt if they change that in future firmware iterations.  You options are pretty limited and the navigation is simple.  I’m sure that’s how Roku wanted it.  Simple and easy.  And I think that’s what will make this player really popular.  Most people want that.  Yes, there are those who want every option and the freedom to play.  But I think they are the minority.

I haven’t played with Amazon videos yet, but will be shortly.  I want to check how their service handles things from an API standpoint.  Netflix does okay.  It’s a bummer they don’t handle True HD yet, with accompanying 5.1 sound.  But I bet that’s coming.  All in all, I would highly recommend the Roku and Netflix combo.  Plus, it’s very cheap on a month to month basis.  I went with the $9/month subscription.  That allows 1 DVD out at a time with unlimited instant downloads.  Pretty amazing.

****½



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