Roku digital video player: game-changer for home entertainment

Digital video has its advantages over discs, but also suffers from a major flaw. I have to admit that (unlike others who are more diligent) I haven’t taken full advantage of the Netflix streaming video service, because I find that being tied to the PC screen just isn’t the most convenient location for watching movies. I do use a bit but still, it’s being tethered to the PC that really inhibits usage. I’ve found that I do watch a lot more anime now, though, because I can torrent the AVI files, put them on a USB jumpdrive, and watch them on my DVD player (which has a USB connection). However, that process is time-consuming since you need to download the whole video file before watching, and of course there’s the inconvenience (not to mention legal gray area) of finding torrents in the first place.

Roku digital video player
Roku digital video player
This is why Roku’s new digital video player
box is so exciting. Unlike the latest piece of s^&t from Sony, the Roku player is a simple and small box with the standard video outputs (component, HDMI) and an ethernet jack, plus built-in wifi. It connects to the internet over your home network, plugs into your TV, and brings Netflix streaming-on-demand and’s video store right to your living room. The concept works because it’s so simplistic and cleanly executed – it doesn’t do anything else. Even the remote is a piece of utilitarian art.

There are other ways to get Netflix streaming onto your television – for example, the Samsung BD-P2500 Blu-Ray player, which adds the streaming capability. But at $300, it’s three times the cost of the Roku (and doesn’t support Amazon). Amazon’s video store lets you rent or buy movies and television and rivals and the iTunes store for selection, so the Roku really almost replaces the need to go to a retail video rental store like Blockbuster in a way that Netflix alone never could.

If digital downloads are going to really kill off the physical-disc format, it won’t be until devices like Roku become mainstream. And at the price point of $99, that’s not too far off at all.

5 thoughts on “Roku digital video player: game-changer for home entertainment”

  1. I’ve looked at the Roku box and other options. For right now, I’m leaning toward buying the Samsung Blu-Ray box and cutting out the cable TV altogether. Right now, things aren’t to the point where I can get high-quality HD streamed over broadband, so the Blu-Ray player can cover that angle.

  2. Frustratingly close to what I want. I want to be able to set up a local home server of some sort in addition to being able to grab videos from NetFlix and Amazon.

  3. I use playon’s media server on my computer and stream Netflix and Hulu through my PS3. Sometimes it looks like I slathered vaseline on my TV, but otherwise it works reasonably well. Of course, playon isn’t free, but I’m sure someone will figure it out for free someday…

  4. If you have something like an Xbox 360 already, you can use Netflix’s streaming service to your TV. It’s surprisingly easy to use and has decent quality.

  5. I just purchased the roku player and I love it. It’s definitely like having your own video store at home. I love that I can have all the movies that can be watched instantly on my queue on netflix and I can also rent all the movies I want from for a very low price. Connect that with an hdmi cable on your tv and you got a theathre at home. I would definitely recommend it for those who love to watch movies and even for those baseball fans. You can also have an online account and watch all the baseball you want. And by the way, Roku does support amazon. Enjoy it!!

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