The Netflix Player

I haven't really been able to take advantage of Netflix's "Watch Instantly" feature since it came out since it requires Windows and anytime I've wanted to try it I've been using a Mac. I was excited by the announcement of the Netflix Player by Roku last week and managed to order one before they went out of stock. The player is a small box, around the size of a stack of 4 or 5 CD jewel cases, that streams movies from Netflix "watch instantly" selection - about 10,000 movies - and displays them on your TV instead of your PC. The box connects via wired or wireless Ethernet, and has a variety of output options - standard composite, component, HDMI, and optical digital audio.


Setup was very easy; after connecting to the TV, the on screen prompts make it easy to connect to the Internet. A short code is displayed on the screen, which is then entered (via computer) onto www.netflix.com/activate, and then the box is associated with your Netflix account.

You cannot browse the entire catalog from your TV screen; movies are selected from the Netflix website and added to your "instant queue", which you can then select from the menu on your TV. (this really does keep things pretty simple - the remote only has a few buttons and the on-screen menus are quick and easy to navigate)

Movies are of reasonable quality; HD is expected in the future. Its not quite DVD quality but good enough. I tried a few movies and they started playing within about 30 seconds; the device only streams video, there is no local storage. Fast forward and rewind worked pretty well, but there is a slight pause while the movie rebuffers after you select your new scene.

One of the best parts is the price. The box is $100, and there are no additional monthly service fees. As long as you had a Netflix plan that is more than $10/month, unlimited movie streaming is included for free. Most of the selection is not brand new, but there is a good mix of movies and even some TV shows available.