What is the simplest Netflix-ready set-top device?
November 18, 2011 7:48 AM Subscribe
Apple TV or Roku for my technology-shy father?
posted by gregoryg to shopping (25 answers total)
My dad watches a lot of TV. As in, he's retired and sits on front of the TV for much of the day and most evenings. He's gotten really into his DVR in the past couple of years and understands how that system works well and is comfortable with it. This is slightly slightly surprising to me as he tends to be a bit technology shy these days. He was an early proponent of Apple and was always the advocate of technology in our house when I was young, but these days he just seems tired of learning anything new and complex. My brother and I finally got him to get a cellphone a little over a year ago, but he doesn't use it much and opted for a dumbphone, and he has a Macbook Pro but only ever uses it for e-mail - anything beyond that he finds too complex to deal with and rarely if ever uses the internet - though he's got a decent DSL connection that comes with his cable package.
I've noticed over the past year or so when I go home for the holidays that he tends to watch more and more crappy movies and TV on his DVR because he can't find enough good content and ends up settling on terrible History Channel conspiracy theory shows.
This Christmas I want to get him Netflix streaming for a year and a set-top box to watch it on. My brother got him a Blu-Ray player last year that has Netflix streaming enabled on it, but I believe he hasn't used it once and he never signed up for a Netflix account. I do, however, think he would love the content that's available on Netflix, and when I brought up last year that he should look into an Apple TV, he seemed open to the idea but never followed up since he doesn't pursue technology on his own. He loves documentaries, historical/informative shows, and indie film and is very open in his taste preferences so I think it would be a great gift.
With all this said, I'm trying to decide between an Apple TV and a Roku for him. Apple TV seems like the obvious choice because of its ease-of-use (I've played around with one for 5 minutes and it seems significantly less complex than a DVR) and the fact that he likes and trusts Apple as a producer of quality products, but from reviews that I've read it seems like it doesn't play well with Netflix on anything other than stellar connections. I think if my dad had to put up with constant load times, he wouldn't bother. When it comes to a Roku box, I know significantly less about it, and I just have no experience with it. Is the user interface friendly enough for a man who doesn't want to bother with a smartphone interface?
The idea is to keep it as simple as possible for him. I'd be setting up his taste preferences for him while I'm home so he doesn't have to touch any of that, and ideally he'd never have to go in and change settings, unplug things on the box, mess with his internet settings, etc.
So which is the better option? Or is there another one out there that fits the bill better like Boxee? Or does it seem like perhaps it's just not the right gift for him and I should just pay to further his HBO/Stars/whatever subscription?