When we last left our intrepid Cable Cutting hero, he was talking about Netflix streaming devices. There are many of these on the market, to be sure, but my favorite is the Roku box. This small box, and I’m talking palm of your hand small, will easily fit into any home theater arrangement. It is easy to set up, navigate and has plenty of content available on it.
Once your Netflix Instant Queue is set up, the titles appear nearly instantly on your Roku box. If your title includes multiple episodes, say because you’re watching The Addams Family, you can jump to a specific episode easily . Fast forwarding and rewinding, though inexact, are simple to master. Simple enough, in fact, that my 6 year old figured it out quickly and now is not to be trusted near the remote. Not because he’s going to mess something up, but because he *will* fast forward/rewind/change the video when I just want to watch what’s playing. In fact, all of the controls are easy to master. If I hand NHL the remote, I can be certain that he will find a show that he wants to watch and will be able to play it with no problem.
The only problem we ran into was constant wireless network connection losses. However, considering I’ve been experiencing these on my laptop as well, I think this is more of a problem with my network (more specifically, my router) than with Roku/Netflix. Even when the network is acting funky, though, reconnecting is as easy as clicking "OK" a few times. Assuming that the network cooperates, that is, but you can hardly fault Roku or Netflix for not being able to connect to a trouble-making router!
Since introducing them to the Roku, my children’s viewing habits have changed. Whereas before their "default" choice was Noggin, The Disney Channel or possibly PBS Kids, they have rapidly made Roku one of their favorite choices. Why, after all, bother with waiting until their favorite show is on when you can just click and play. JSL has learned to ask for "Wiggle Roku" for his favorite Wiggles videos or "Bobby He Can Build It Roku" (Bob the Builder on Roku) and NHL has found enjoyment in some of my old favorites: Inspector Gadget, Super Mario Brothers and The Pink Panther.
Previously, I had mentioned how Netflix wasn’t resting on their laurels. Well, Roku isn’t either. While Netflix on Roku might be enough to justify the $80 – $130 price tag (depending on which Roku box you buy), Roku also offers access to Amazon Video on Demand, which has some great movies and TV shows, and Major League baseball.
Those offerings require extra purchases, however. Amazon VOD requires you to pay for each video while MLB insists on a yearly subscription fee. To increase the value of your Roku box, they are branching out to other content providers, most of which will be free for all. Their Channel Guide allows you to customize your channel listing to include Motionbox, Mediafly, blip.tv, twit.tv, Facebook Photos, Revision3, Frame Channel, Flickr and Pandora. These options just came out, so I haven’t explored them fully. Still, I got a taste for how much more content they have just made available via Roku and I like it. Clearly, Roku is trying to position itself as the go-to box for streamed media content.
Coming up next, will the cable cord survive being cut?
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary 3 month preview of Netflix for review purposes. However, after my preview period, I intend to remain on as a paying Netflix member. As stated, I won the Roku box during an online giveaway. The reviews expressed above are my own and were not altered in any way by Netflix, Roku or anyone else.