Best device to stream Netflix?
June 8, 2009 1:21 PM   Subscribe

What is the best device (or way) to stream NetFlix to your TV?

There are tons of options that allow you to stream Netflix to a TV: hookup a PC, Xbox 360, Roku, LG and Samsung Bluray players, etc.

What is the best way to stream Netflix if I do not own any of those devices now but were going to purchase one?
posted by cowmix to Technology (21 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I love my Roku. I can make good use of the HDMI with 3 MB down broadband, so it's a winner in my book.
posted by yellowcandy at 1:23 PM on June 8, 2009

Do you have any interest in gaming? If so, Xbox might be the way to go for $199. If not, I'd go with one of the cheaper options.
posted by nitsuj at 1:23 PM on June 8, 2009

I also love my Roku. And it works with Amazon videos too, which is a fantastic bonus.

I looked into the other systems you mentioned, but the Roku won out due to its sheer simplicity.
posted by mullacc at 1:25 PM on June 8, 2009

I can't compare it to any of the other services you mentioned, but I think it works pretty well through my TiVo.
posted by dhammond at 1:26 PM on June 8, 2009

The Xbox has the side benefit of being a good gaming platform, if you're into that. The biggest downside I've seen (compared to other NF streamind devices) is that the Xbox movie selection suffers from a bit of stonewalling from Sony, who didn't/don't want their movies shown on a competitors hardware. Not really sure if this is still a problem or not...
posted by Pantengliopoli at 1:26 PM on June 8, 2009

Xbox, for the versatility. Haven't run into a problem with it yet.

Though I am redoing my home media setup with a Mac Mini, which will become my new Netflix device.
posted by olinerd at 1:31 PM on June 8, 2009

The Sony/Xbox thing was a bit of a tempest in a teapot. There was one movie (ghostbusters) that wasn't available, but they cleared the rights and it's not a problem.
posted by Oktober at 1:36 PM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

I have both a early model Roku and a Samsung Bluray player, with netflix and pandora support. I have the Samsung hooked up to the LCD TV in the living room (1080p), and the Roku to the LCD (720p) in the bedroom, both via HDMI. The Roku connects over WiFi while the Blu-ray player is wired in with Cat5 to the wireless router. In a given week, my downstream bandwidth is around 600-800KBps. I've had a few issues with signal weakening while watching (almost all in the bedroom), but it's much more likely to be the shitty, over-sold service from Comcast. The Roku box handled it gracefully, 'downgrading' to a visibly lower-quality stream and not cutting off. I found that pausing for a minute or two seemed to relieve the issue, filling in the buffer I guess.

I really like the Samsung Bluray player, but only have a few discs. I find it upconverts fairly well, but it's slow to start playing and skip tracks. Although my girlfriend LOVES it. She picked it out and uses it more than I do, mainly for Pandora. She also loves Pandora.

Unless you're looking for a Bluray player, I'd go with either the XBox or Roku solution. I'm basing this primarily on price because the Netflix streaming is a nice, but non-essential service in my book.
posted by now i'm piste at 1:43 PM on June 8, 2009

I have two TiVo Series 2s, and almost upgraded to the Series 3 largely for the Netflix streaming support. But the Roku? It's fantastic, especially for the price. We use it more than the Apple TV, now, and we love our Apple TV.
posted by pzarquon at 2:03 PM on June 8, 2009

Love my Roku, works like a champ. I can't recommend it enough.

But if you already have a computer with video out and you can't bring yourself to spend $99 on the Roku, you could just hook that up to your TV. Assuming it runs Windows*.

You can also install Boxee for a nice TV friendly interface.

But get a Roku if you can.

*Not sure if Macs are supported yet.
posted by beowulf573 at 2:12 PM on June 8, 2009

I was using the Xbox 360 for Netflix until I got the red ring of death a few weeks ago, and since my gaming has fallen way off in the last few years, I replaced it with the Samsung Blu-Ray, which I hooked up just yesterday.

The Samsung seems to have a much better resolution than the Xbox, although I'm not willing to be definitive after one day of usage. Also, you don't have to pay the extra fee of Xbox Live with the Blu-ray player, which, if you're not a big gamer, is a waste of money. So, overall, so far I'm giving the victory to the Samsung.
posted by Bookhouse at 2:13 PM on June 8, 2009

We've got a 360 on our 1080p TV and a Roku on our 1080i. Both work very well, but the Roku's smaller, quieter and ultimately gets you to the movie faster (no load times, no logging in, etc.). I've hooked up computers to both TVs, but I've always found that solution to be a pain for our family to use compared with the set-top boxes.

I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the Roku if you're just looking for a good, cheap solution.
posted by eschatfische at 2:28 PM on June 8, 2009

I'd say xbox for ease, but as my just-posed question will attest, it's been a pain for me. The CHEAPEST way is just to get an s-video cable and run it from your computer to the tv, effectively turning your tv into a monitor. It's a bit of a pain (maybe 5 min setup each time, if you need to change your screen resolution, which we do since the monitors are wide but the tv is not), but it's cheap and works.
posted by Kellydamnit at 2:32 PM on June 8, 2009

I've got a Roku and like it. It's cheap, it works, it's simple.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:38 PM on June 8, 2009

I love my Roku, it's dead simple. My parents have the LG BD300 that includes netflix streaming and it gets the job done, but has quite a lag when switching between bluray mode and netflix mode. almost as of the player does a full reboot.
posted by jrishel at 2:40 PM on June 8, 2009

I was using the Xbox 360 for Netflix until I got the red ring of death a few weeks ago, and since my gaming has fallen way off in the last few years, I replaced it with the Samsung Blu-Ray, which I hooked up just yesterday.

I expect you know this already, but unless you were one of the early purchasers of the 360, it may still be under warranty. The extended the warranty for RROD to 3 years from date of purchase.

Also, I don't *think* you have to have a Gold (read: paid) Xbox Live membership to use the Netflix streaming service, but I may be wrong there...
posted by Pantengliopoli at 4:04 PM on June 8, 2009

you do need the paid Xbox Live membership for streaming. they do throw in some extras like being able to syncronize watching a movie with a few remote friends so you can talk over the movie together. UGH.
posted by jrishel at 5:02 PM on June 8, 2009

Use your computer or laptop, with an internet connection. It is the most cost-effective way, in my opinion. You'll need to be able to hook them up, and ideally you have an HDTV with an HDMI hookup; it'll probably also have a DVI and/or VGA hookup as well.

Your computer will double not only as a Netflix viewer, but a Hulu, DVD, torrent,,,, and youtube viewer. You can turn your TV into a jukebox with itunes playing for ambience, or you can put on a killer slideshow in picasa.

Most current iterations of PCs, and all Macbooks, will be completely compatible with your television.

Here is a somewhat related prior post.
posted by jabberjaw at 5:27 PM on June 8, 2009

I like my new HD TiVo box just fine. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!
posted by Madamina at 5:50 PM on June 8, 2009

We use our HD TiVo. We actually canceled our cable and let the TiVo record the 20-something HD channels we get over the air, and then use Netflix and an Apple TV for our cable program viewing. Netflix integrates very nicely with the TiVo interface. It shows up as a red folder on our Now Playing list, and all the normal remote commands work just like on the TiVo (pause, replay, three speeds of fast-forward).
posted by davextreme at 8:32 AM on June 9, 2009

We use Xbox but have a HUGE problem getting a smooth stream. It is ALWAYS stopping and then "readjusting" to a usually unwatchable pixelation.
posted by tinatiga at 3:20 PM on June 9, 2009

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