Netflix, Roku and Cut Cable, Oh My!, Part 3

Heeeere’s Roku!

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,,, 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.

Netflix, Roku and Cut Cable, Oh My!, Part 2

Watching Movies At Warp Speed

Previously, I mentioned that Netflix is keeping up with the changing rental climate.  One of those changes is online viewing.  I’m a big believer that the future successor of DVDs isn’t going to be Blu-Ray or some other super-incredible-ultra-high-resolution disc, but no disc at all.  All of the pieces are in place or nearly so.  Internet speeds are fast enough in many areas to support video streaming. Video codecs can alter video quality to account for changes in bandwidth.  Wireless technology allows for devices (*cough*Roku*cough*) to stream Internet videos without needing any wires (save for the power cord). » Read more

Netflix, Roku and Cut Cable, Oh My!, Part 1

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard about Netflix.  They’re the online video rental shop that will mail you DVDs from a queue you create.  For many years, I wrote them off as not worth it.  After all, I reasoned, we didn’t rent movies all that often so why pay $16.99 a month when we might rent only one movie that month.  Tis better, I thought, to pay $5 to rent the new release in the local big name video chain.  Boy was I wrong. » Read more

Aloha Friday: Organizing Your DVDs


As mentioned in last week’s Aloha Friday, I’ve been thinking about cutting the cable cord. As part of my thinking, I was considering our DVD collection. Right now, our system is to pile our 100 or so DVDs on shelves in our entertainment center. This might seem like a fine system, but there are only two shelves for the DVDs. In addition, the shelves are behind glass doors that frequently get blocked by kids’ toys. This means that it is difficult to read the titles of the DVDs and it is hard to get to the DVDs themselves.

I first looked into a system to rip our DVDs to our desktop computer and then stream those movies to our living room television, but that proved too tricky. The technology is out there, but it didn’t seem proven enough for me or required too much of a monetary investment. Then I looked at similar systems, but ones that would host our videos in a set top box. These too, exist, but didn’t have good enough reviews to make me feel comfortable in spending the hundreds of dollars to set it up.

I began to think that I was – as usual – trying to cobble together a high-tech solution when a more inexpensive, low-tech solution. So I looked at some shelves, but the sturdy ones were too big for our small living room and the ones that would fit into our living room would be too flimsy around the boys. My current plan is to simply catalog and categorize our movies and print out a list. Then we can look at the list and know exactly what there is to watch.

My Aloha Friday question is: How do you organize your DVD collection so that you know what you have and can quickly select a title to watch?

Thanks to Kailani at An Island Life for starting this fun for Friday. Please be sure to head over to her blog to say hello and sign the MckLinky there if you are participating.

Aloha Friday by Kailani at An Island Life

Aloha #8

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