For a family Christmas present, we got the new Roku digital video player along with a Netflix subscription. Until 2 weeks ago, I had never heard of Roku and now I don’t know how we lived without it. From my short experience with Roku, video on-demand is the future and the future is already here.
Granted only 12,000 of Netflix’s 100,000 title library is available for immediate viewing, but that is a considerable number of titles and the assortment of great movies is pretty impressive. And now with today’s announcement that Amazon’s Video on Demand service is coming to Roku in the near future will make the Roku player that much more valuable.
Here’s what I like so far:
- Relatively inexpensive – $99 for the Roku player plus the monthly Netflix fees of $8.99 per month
- Easy to set up and use – especially if you have a router nearby; I was up and running in less than 5 minutes and the player can access your wireless network too
- Works better than advertised – the stream is skip-free and the quality is superb
- Great selection of movies – lots older family movies, British television shows (like Dr. Who), and some great movie classics including 2 movies that I could watch anytime (Bull Durham and Mystery Alaska).
To add movies to the Roku player, you start by searching for movies on Netflix. If they are available to watch now, there is a blue Play arrow next to the button that normally says Add. Clicking the Blue Play button gives you a drop-down menu to add the movie to your Instant Queue. You can also search just the Watch Instantly tab for the 12,000 or so titles that are available for immediate watching. You can add as many movies to your queue as you want.
When you access your Roku menu, you are presented with all of the movies in your queue. Once you select a movie, it takes about 10-15 seconds before the movie starts playing. You can also pause, rewind and forward through the movie too. The one downside I’ve heard people complain about is that you can add titles from the Roku player – but we have a computer in our family room and it’s so easy to add movies to watch now or save for later.
There is even a social media aspect to Netflix. Members can read or write their own views and rate them as helpful or not. It has also been interesting to watch the Twitter traffic using Roku as a keyword. More than 100 new tweets have occurred in the past 30 minutes I have been writing this post.
Here is an example of our current Netflix queue.
I don’t know when the end will come for DVDs and standalone video stores, but the Roku player along with the Netflix and Amazon deals will certainly accelerate their demise. Now if I could just stream my Roku to the rest of my house!