Streaming Netflix

I’ve been a Netflix junkie for the past three years. I really enjoy the service and I only have a couple problems with it: Damaged discs and the dreaded “Very Long Wait” for some highly anticipated new releases. I was a bit intrigued by the Roku Netflix Player when it was released this past spring, but I’ve been holding off until their selection of available titles increases. Currently, they offer roughly 12,000 titles, a fraction of what is available in disc form. Everything I have read about the Roku is fairly positive. It is easy to set up, the user interface is straight forward, but the picture quality is a bit less than the DVD itself. I’m also awaiting the inevitable upgrade to streaming HD content. Surely, bandwidth is the main obstacle to that becoming a reality. Roku says that the player is HD ready and will stream HD movies and TV shows when Netflix is able to send the content. While the Roku box costs $99.99, the streaming of Netflix does not cost you anything extra if you already have an unlimited monthly membership (starting at $8.95 per month).

While I’m waiting for the perfect Netflix player to come along, Engadget is reporting that LG has a Blu-Ray player that will stream Netflix content. I have yet to upgrade to Blu-Ray, but this is definitely the unit I would go with when/if I go that route. The Blu-Ray player is still limited with the content that Netflix is offering, but it also plays Blu-Ray and standard DVDs. This offers a bit more versatility to the player where the Roku just streams Netflix.

I’m a big fan of being able to leave the physical media in the past and these developments, while not perfect, are approaching something I would be interested in purchasing. With options from Apple TV and Amazon’s Unbox, the inevitable end to the physical disc will be here before you know it.

27 Comments for “Streaming Netflix”

  1. posted by Peter on

    I’m a long time Netflix user myself, and I have not even heard of this. I will definitely check it out. My issue with it is what quality of video & sound does it output?

    As bandwith becomes less of a challenge in the future, I definitely believe we will all have something like the AppleTV.

    http://yinvsyang.com/

  2. posted by Mer on

    I’m living for the day when there’s enough bandwidth to get Blu-Ray quality video on demand. We get some decent HD on demand on ye olde cable box, but the selection is very limited. And every time the cable company upgrades the software, the hardware craps out and we have to swap our box. The LG player sounds like a good bet. You will feel so spoiled when you upgrade to Blu-Ray.

  3. posted by Rue on

    I saw something like this before…I think on woot.com? I too am only put off by the limited number of titles. If they ever get more movies I would definitely do that – my husband gets upset when I don’t watch “my” movies right away (“mine” meaning the movies HE doesn’t want to watch), because then he can’t get a new one for himself. This would solve that problem! πŸ™‚

    I do wonder, though – if you got one of these machines, could you still get discs through Netflix?

  4. posted by The Green Routine on

    The XBOX 360 will add streaming support for Netflix in the fall, so if you have one of those, you’ll have a free streamer soon enough.

    My personal choice for a media player in the living room was an Apple Mac Mini. The Netflix player is not technically supported on the mini, but it was just $39 away with a copy of VMWARE fusion. The only thing the mini can’t do is Blu-ray.

    The perfect living room HTPC might be the new Dell Studio Hybrid… it’s cheaper than the mini, and supports everything including a Blu-ray option.

  5. posted by Shalin on

    A great idea, but I’ll probably get it when HD content is available through streaming.

    I don’t know if I’d like iTune’s rentals + Apple TV more or not…probably not because I like to go through DVD menus and see blooper reels, deleted scenes, etc.

    Best,
    Shalin

  6. posted by Lori on

    Sounds like a good solution for people who want instant gratification. Twelve thousand is still a pretty big selection — way more than the local video store.

    @Rue, do you know you can set up Netflix profiles? My husband has his queue and I have mine, and we split our allotment between them so we each always have at least one of “our” movies at home.

    Also, I’ve been a Netflix member since the very beginning — 2001 — and in all those years have received only four or five damaged disks, which they replaced right away, and have had only two completely lost in the mail. Pretty remarkable, considering all the variables involved.

  7. posted by Maria in Iowa on

    Yeah, what Green Routine said. :o)

  8. posted by Matt on

    Rue, yes, you are still entitled to receive discs if you have one of these streaming boxes. In addition to your monthly disc allotment, your account provides access to a number of hours of streaming video (through a device to your TV or to your computer, which I sometimes use) equal to the number of dollars you spend on Netflix each month. So, if you have an $18/month plan, you get to watch 18 hours of streaming video each month in addition to the discs you still get in the mail.

  9. posted by Matt on

    Matt – You were right inside my head from the beginning of this post. I’ve been waiting for their selection to increase, also. 12k sounds like a lot, but a lot of that is filler; old movies, b movies, etc.

    I’ve also been struggling with whether to buy a Netflix-enabled Blu-ray player or a PS3. The only thing I know is that I won’t buy a player that ONLY plays movies, especially when you consider that the PS3, for example, costs only slightly more than the Costco price I have found on BR players.

  10. posted by cdelphine on

    Are you able to access the dvd menu? I use the watch instantly feature on netflix sometimes and if you can access the dvd menu I haven’t figured out how. It’s a problem when I try to watch foreign films.

  11. posted by Sheri on

    I have been using this feature for three months now and I love it! I find the quality is excellent as long as the wireless connection is positioned properly. My Netflix queue is always right at 500 so I appreciate that even 60 of them are available immediately! The Roku box was a cinch to connect and this prompted me to get my wireless router. It is a hit in this household!!

  12. posted by Michael on

    I’m looking forward to the XBOX360 being able to do the instant viewing feature of Netflix.

    Supposed to be available this Fall with the upcoming update. No need for a Roku box.

  13. posted by Monique in TX on

    It all sounds good–except for the LG part. Our experience with LG electronics (DVD-R) has been a nightmare of bad product, terrible service, lies, and wasted money. Be sure to check a lot of product reviews before you buy anything from them. I hate to slam them in a public forum–no, wait. I don’t–they didn’t uphold their warranty, and their product was a piece of junk. I’m left with the worst sort of clutter–a useless device that is good for nothing but the landfill since it can’t be recycled locally. Caveat emptor big time, y’all.

  14. posted by Fit Bottomed Girls on

    I’m addcited to Netflix, but not exactly on the cutting edge of technology. I’ll probably wait to see how this all shakes down before investing. πŸ™‚

  15. posted by Mack on

    Matt – my mother is on the 1 DVD at a time plan ($8.99/month I believe). She gets unlimited streaming movies.

    She gets the newest releases on DVD. The streaming movies are just a supplement for her, with the only additional charge being the price of the Roku box. There are a lot of TV show seasons on there too. It’s been the best $99 gift I’ve ever bought her.

  16. posted by Mer on

    Do you have to swap your existing XBox 360 for a newer box to get the Netflix streaming (for HD)?

  17. posted by James on

    I grabbed one of the Netflix Players a few weeks back, and I LOVE IT! It’s still a novelty, but I’ve watched a ton of TV Shows (DVD Sets), and the brilliant thing is that you watch them all without having to wait for the next disc to arrive. Set up was amazingly simple, and the operation is very basic (in fact, it’s nice to have a remote that just does what you want it to do). There is no limit on the number of hours you can watch, you just have to go to your Netflix page and add the movies or shows you want to watch through the website. You can rate and remove the shows directly from the TV (box). One of the reasons that I went the “early adopter” route was the way this box was developed: simple design, Netflix engineer involvement in creation, and simple operation … oh and the price πŸ™‚

    Highly recommended!

  18. posted by Charles on

    I’m going to ditto on the Xbox 360. IMHO, its more useful than even something like Apple TV, without quite going the route of something like a dedicated HTPC. It supports most of the big file formats and it’s also capable of being a media center extender if you use a compatible version of windows. I’ve found that I almost use the thing more for streaming content than I do for gaming.

  19. posted by timgray on

    I have tried this item, and returned it. Video quality is far less than DVD. It looks good on a small 19″ tv. but on a 42″ HD it looks horrid.

    we bought a AppleTV and are incredibly pleased. I can rent HD movies, watch my movies and video that is on the computer (you cant do this with the ROKU box) and the video looks fantastic. Plus I get to watch all kinds of free content from the podcasts on itunes.

  20. posted by verily on

    The LG player intrigues me because I would like to upgrade to a blu-ray DVD player soon. I like the idea of the Roku player and I think that $99 for such convenience is a fair price, but I really don’t need one more box in my entertainment center. Perhaps when I am ready to dump the VCR (for all those obscure videos not on DVD), I will replace it with a Netflix type box.

  21. posted by BriAnna on

    Mer:

    It will be part of XBOX live. You won’t need different physical machine, though all of the 360 menus will be updated at the same time.

  22. posted by Paula G on

    We get the streaming on our computer, and send it to our 27″ tv. It isn’t the greatest resolution, but for a lot of what we watch, it doesn’t matter. And it is fun to watch the kids watch old tv shows I watched at their ages!

  23. posted by Dawn on

    I love my ROKU box. We’ve watched a bunch of TV shows (Heroes, Coupling, etc…) without having to wait for the DVDs. We can also watch old movies and there are some exercise videos available.

    Although, I am not sure we qualify for “unclutterer” status. We have (starting from the top) a ROKU box, TV, VCR, DVD player, and a DVR.

  24. posted by Me on

    I wouldn’t bother. I have a laptop that I can use to ‘Watch Instantly’ via Netflix.com, plus I get my disc(s), plus I have an XBox 360, which will soon allow streaming and Watch Now via Netflix.

  25. posted by Kimberly on

    Save your $$$. Use an S video cable and an audio cable on a laptop or desk top that is close to the TV. We put our laptop on the coffee table, hook it up to the TV, and play Netflix on demand right on our TV. We didn’t spend a red cent. It’s decent quality. It’s not DVD, but it’s still fine.

  26. posted by kalavinka on

    Are the DVD bonus features available? or as another user hinted at, able to turn on subtitles for foreign films?

    This box is intriguing for those of us who do dig older movies and b-movies, not on a PC (streaming on your computer is not supported for Mac), or who are not into video games…but if I can’t view the special features or turn on subtitles then it’s going to really limit my choices because I tend to watch those things.

  27. posted by Zach on

    We hooked up an old Windows PC to the living room TV…now not only can we stream netflix, but we can also get access to Hulu, Joost, and any of the networks that post their shows for free.

    No cable saves >$50/month… πŸ™‚

    -Zach

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