The Roku Netflix Player

I’m horribly unqualified to do a tech review, but I have to tell you I love this thing.

I bought this for myself for Father’s Day after a week or two of deliberation and I have to tell you I am not disappointed. I thought I’d say what I think and answer any questions if anyone out there is considering buying one of these things.

First, the price is right. $99 is cheap to have access to the Netflix Watch Instantly library. This thing is like having a video store (albeit a kind of freaky one) at your finger tips. Compare the price to buying DVDs and I think it’s a huge value. All one has to do is see a couple seasons of Weeds or 30 Rock and the thing pays for itself. Plus, there are a lot of classic films in the NWI library that I would consider buying on DVD. If you’re the kind of person that only likes to see new releases than maybe this Netflix Player isn’t for you. BTW, a surprising number of recent releases like The Orphanage, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, and La Vie in Rose are available NWI. I think people who really love film can find plenty to watch.

My biggest concern was video quality, but it turns out that’s not much of an issue. Obviously, the faster your internet connection the better your quality will be. If you’re a true resolution snob, maybe this isn’t for you, but otherwise I’d think you’d be pretty happy.

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9 thoughts on “The Roku Netflix Player

  1. Video quality is a big deal to me. Plus with an Apple TV I can just rip the DVDs Netflix sends me and watch them at my leisure. The only trouble I’ve had thus far are ones with scratches on that I don’t notice. (Mainly with kids movies)

    The big advantage of the Roku over the AppleTV is, as you noted, that you only pay the $99 and then everything is free. That’s a huge loss leader and clearly Netflix is losing money on this thing. Lots of money. But they are hoping to get mindshare and then beat the crest as people move from DVDs to downloads.

    The biggest problem with the AppleTV is how ridiculously expensive rentals are. DVD quality rentals are $4 and $6 for HD rentals (that are subpar compared with even 720p videos on disk let alone 1080p). I can go down to a Redbox at any McDonalds or grocery store and rent a fair selection of new releases for $1.

    But right now the ideal situation is, as I mentioned, Netflix rentals with an AppleTV. Plus the AppleTV plays ripped DVDs even nicer than the Toshiba HD-DVD player which I thought did amazing upscaling.

  2. Is it that Netflix is losing lots of money, or is Apple just overcharging? Keep in mind Netflix didn’t make the device, Roku did.

  3. There’s some serious cross-licensing though.

    Someone is losing lots of money because the royalties for even a modicum of movies is a lot more than $99.

  4. Clark, taking a look at the site, a Netflix subscription is still required. If you are subscribed to Netflix then you already have all this available to you on your computer – the device just displays the movies on your TV instead of your computer screen. Netflix isn’t losing or making any money (except by bringing in new subscribers).

  5. Ah. That makes sense.

    I was going to say that if you brave hacking the AppleTV then you could play these anyway by installing Couch Surfer. That lets you play any of the streaming videos if they play on Safari. However Netflix is only compatible with Windows.

    It would let you watch Hulu though.

  6. BTW – out of curiosity I tried some movies downloaded with BT. I just did a search for 720p and found a few. Of course it took a week and a half to download. But they look remarkably good. Not quite 1080p HD-DVD good. But pretty close.

    If you’re on a Mac you’ll need to purchase Visual Hub to convert from mkv format to the mp4 format the AppleTV uses.

  7. Just to add – if you don’t care about video quality or the smaller selection then the Roku does seem like a screaming deal.

  8. You know, the Morris family has really taken to Hulu of late. I hope the networks stick with it. I’m more than happy to participate in the ad-supported free TV model.

    I refuse to pay for cable and all you Tivo/DVR users are just killing the golden goose for the rest of us.

  9. If there was a pricing structure like Netflix combined with the ease and quality of the rentals on the AppleTV then I’d be in heaven. If NBC would be willing to do a deal with Apple so Hulu was on it then that’d be interesting although Hulu’s not HD quality.

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