The Short Form
|$99.99 for the player, plus an unlimited Netflix disc subscription of at least $8.99 per month / ROKU.COM / 888-600-7658|
|The most affordable platform yet for streaming near DVD-quality movies to your TV, and a must-have for Netflix members.|
|• No pay-per-view charges
• No ticking clock
• No limits on number or frequency of movies watched
• Resume play from pause within each of up to 500 movies
• Live 24-hour Netflix phone support
|• No high-definition titles
• Not enough new releases and chartbusting older releases
• Can't download movies
• No disc-type extras
• Can't add movies to the viewing queue from the TV
|• More than 12,000 movies and TV programs available
• Must select titles on a computer via Netflix browser
• All selections remain available on TV until deleted
• Outputs HDMI, component video, composite video, S-video, optical digital audio, stereo (RCA)
• Other jacks: Ethernet
• 5 [1/8] x 5 [1/8] x 1 [5/8] in
Until now, there have been plenty of reasons why Internet-delivered movie services have barely made a dent in public awareness: not enough titles, too many restrictions, and too difficult to use. You could use a notebook or desktop computer to watch movies, but the experience is a far cry from the large screen, big speakers, and plush couch of a home theater. All this explains why discs (DVD and Blu-ray), premium cable, and video-on-demand aren't going away any time soon. Conventional home video distribution may finally have a serious challenger with the entry of the Netflix Player, an unassuming little box from Roku. Connect it to your home network, plug it into your TV, and suddenly waiting for the mailman seems archaic.
Included with the book-size player are a composite video/stereo cable, 9-button remote with two AA batteries, AC adapter, and a surprisingly simple Getting Started guide. The player has an embedded Wi-Fi antenna, so once you set it up in your home network, you can pull the plug and use it wirelessly . Since I was already a Netflix member, I followed the screen prompts to connect to the Netflix service and was given a code. (Any customer who pays at least $8.99 a month to Netflix can activate the Netflix player.)
Next, I logged onto Netflix from my computer and completed the activation process. Less than a minute later, "Congratulations!" appeared on my TV screen. Later, I disconnected the Ethernet cable and tried to reinstall the player wirelessly. It found my Wi-Fi network, but I was unable to get online until I called tech support and was properly advised to unplug the power adapters on the player and my router, and then restart the power. I was back in business.
Every movie or program you want to watch on the Netflix player must be added to an Instant Viewing queue from a computer logged into your Netflix account. You can do this anytime from anywhere. (Instant viewing has already been available to Netflix members who wanted to watch movies on their computers for some time now.) Your choices are added to the list of titles available on the Netflix player within seconds. Up to 500 titles can be displayed in the player menu at once, and they can remain there indefinitely. You can even delete specific titles from the Netflix player without revisiting your computer.
Once you choose to watch a particular movie, you'll wait about 25 seconds for it to start playing. In continuous play, I didn't have any problems with my viewing getting ahead of the arriving video data stream, and saw no picture deterioration when I switched over to Wi-Fi. According to a variety of speed tests I've run, my cable modem delivers close to 9.5 megabits per second downstream, and nearly 500 kilobits up. These rates deteriorate on occasion, but even then, all the movies I watched through the Netflix player played smoothly. Netflix advises a minimum speed of 3 Mbps, so DSL users should be wary.
The picture resolution for nearly everything I watched was near-DVD quality. Colors looked accurate, and there were no visible motion artifacts, even during high-action sequences like the San Francisco car chase in the 1968 film Bullitt. High-definition titles are not yet available , but the player includes HDMI and component video jacks, and Netflix says it's high-def ready. For now, all movies are delivered with basic stereo soundtracks.
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