How do I upgrade my home TV options?
September 14, 2010 4:02 PM   Subscribe

Can you help me choose a good method/equipment to stream Netflix content to my TV?

The multitudinous options on the Netflix how-to page have me pretty much paralyzed, but I’m determined to bring my home entertainment set up into the 21st Century (and dump Comcast’s digital TV service, which I never use).

Roku or Seagate or WD? was only marginally helpful, since my grand plan encompasses more than just a box at the TV.

I don’t have Wii or Xbox or PS3 and don’t want them.

Related, I don’t have wifi at present, but that is part of my plan—running cable to the TV isn’t an option, plus I want to be able to take my laptop to bed with me—so any recommendations for a good router get bonus points. (If it matters, I already have a Vonage router for VOIP.)

More, I’d also like to get a flat-screen TV that’s compatible with my new set up. My 27” Panasonic is fine, but what the heck, as long as I’m at it, I may as well upgrade that, too. But I need help to decide what will work best in this scenario. (I guess I want “bigger,” but I don’t want “huge,” and I’m lost when it comes to what kind of flat screen I should get.)

I’m currently running Windows Vista, though I’m prepared to upgrade to Windows 7 if it would make a significant difference.

Hopefully, this isn’t too high maintenance. Really, I’m grateful for any pointers. I’ll figure out the rest. No, really, I will.

Many thanks!
posted by Short Attention Sp to Computers & Internet (20 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
If you're upgrading your TV, why don't you just get one of the models that are Netflix-ready (scroll down)?
posted by halogen at 4:07 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Seconding what halogen said.

If you're already planning on a new TV and the only content provider you care about is Netflix, purchase a set that has it built in. I have a Panasonic HDTV which has "VieraLink" that supports Netflix, Amazon Unbox, YouTube and a few others. If you want something more extensible, you're going to be better off making a HTPC with a Mac mini (as I did).
posted by cgomez at 4:14 PM on September 14, 2010

tl;dr but check out the new, lower-priced Apple TV.
posted by neuron at 4:14 PM on September 14, 2010

I only have experience with the Wii and PS3 Netflix to TV options. But nonetheless, I have some advice.

The PS3 route is so much better than Wii because with the PS3 you can search for things. With the Wii you have to have it on your queue or have it be on the list of things Netflix suggests for you in whatever categories it wants to show you at the moment.

This really sucks when you told it you like Arthur and then it tells you that you should watch Caillou or that damn purple dinosaur.

Which means that when I want to watch some random thing that someone thinks of while they're over, I would have to go over to my computer and put it on the queue and then find it on the Wii while I could just search for it on the PS3

This is relevant to you. Figure out which of them won't let you search for things. Then, unless there's some other reason that really makes the awesome, forget about that option. Because running back and forth between the computer and the TV or rating tons of things just to make them stop appearing as suggestions sucks a monkey's butt.
posted by theichibun at 4:16 PM on September 14, 2010

I know you said you didn't want a PS3 but it is a fantastic blu ray player, will make all your existing non blu ray DVDs look a ton better too, and give you easy Netflix access. (Plus if you download a freebie media service, you can look at photos, cached Hulu TV programs, Youtube videos, etc, plus listen to your music on your TV.) Just sayin' You don't have to play games to love your PS3.
posted by bearwife at 4:23 PM on September 14, 2010

Also, as long as you are upgrading your TV too, just want to put in a plug for Samsung's HDTVs. I think the picture and sound on ours can't be beat.
posted by bearwife at 4:26 PM on September 14, 2010

I've got this LG Blu Ray player. I've got it connected via ethernet jack, and it can stream netflix and pandora internet radio, plus a few other options.
posted by JohnMarston at 4:39 PM on September 14, 2010

My local Fry's had the LG JohnMarston linked to on sale for $99 last week.
posted by esome at 4:44 PM on September 14, 2010

I am currently using a Wii and a D-Link router. Were I starting from scratch I would probably go for the new Apple TV as linked above.
posted by bgrebs at 4:48 PM on September 14, 2010

My Samsung Blu-Ray player includes both Netflix and Blockbuster streaming. The particular model I have is plugged in to my router directly, but there the next model up includes wifi built in. There is also a somewhat pricey plug-in that enables wireless.

Some family members recently upgraded their television set, and their fancy new Samsung TV has Netflix, as well as many other internet capable apps (news, weather, youtube, etc).
posted by NeonBlueDecember at 4:49 PM on September 14, 2010

I have a Vizio that has built-in wireless and Netflix support. We took it out of the box, plugged it in the wall and turned it on. We set up the wireless account and our Netflix account, and we were done. From boxed to watching something on our TV in 10 minutes. (We also dumped the digital cable TV, and haven't looked back.)

Depending on your laptop outputs and the TV inputs, you should be able to directly plug your laptop to the TV as a second monitor, allowing you to play anything that runs on your laptop.

As for the router, if your Vonage router looks anything like this, it doesn't have a spare line for additional computers (like the new TV), and it doesn't support wireless access. If you're looking for wireless, the Linksys WRT54GL is a solid wireless router.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:53 PM on September 14, 2010

applauds filthy light thief
posted by kthanksbai at 4:58 PM on September 14, 2010

Response by poster: Okay, as suspected, this isn't going to be as easy as I'd hoped. Fine. I'll suck it up and forge ahead.

Thanks, all, for your assistance. I really am going to act on your advice. And then rain holy hell on you if... well, never mind. What I mean to say is, I'll post an update later.

Meanwhile, consider the wifi router question answered, with thanks to filthy light thief (and kthanksbai... *smooch*).
posted by Short Attention Sp at 5:28 PM on September 14, 2010

I have the Roku and enjoy it a great deal. Prices have recently been cut, I'm guessing because of the announcement of the new Apple TV.

I considered getting a new Bluray player with Netflix streaming built-in. I rejected this idea because Netflix that is built in to a Bluray is going to be an afterthought to the manufacturer. I figured that if the Netflix stopped working for whatever reason, getting support would be a huge hassle. Since Internet video is the only reason the Roku exists, I figured that getting it fixed would be easier. That said, if I were actually interested in playing discs, then I would have looked for a Bluray with Netflix.

The Roku also does Amazon rentals, which are trouble-free. They make up for a lot of the stuff that Netflix does not have.
posted by massysett at 5:55 PM on September 14, 2010

The cool thing about Roku is you can also stream your Itunes to it plus get other channels-not JUST Netflix. We love our Roku box.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:58 PM on September 14, 2010

Yeah, I was surprised no one mentioned the Roku off the bat. We don't have (and don't want) a gaming console, or to upgrade our TV. The Roku was very cheap, super easy to install, and works like a dream. Searchable, and allows me to have my laptop back for actual work while my son watches Shaun the Sheep. Also, streaming Pandora and iTunes and access to Amazon rentals for stuff that isn't streaming Netflix. Plus, they sent us a $10 Amazon rental credit. Total cost: Under $70. Love, love, love the Roku.
posted by anastasiav at 8:20 PM on September 14, 2010

This doesn't seem to be too complicated.

Buy a router. The Linksys mentioned above will be good.

Get a device to display Netflix on your TV: Roku / AppleTV / or built-in if you buy a new TV

Decide if you want a blue ray player:

Use your latop to stream netflix directly or whatever other content you want.

Alternatively, if you own a lot of content (music / video / photos), you may want to investigate setting up some sort of media server. I run the SageTV system, which besides being a DVR allows me to watch all of my other content as well as stream netflix, hulu, amazon VOD, youtube, and pandora. I have a media server in my basement running the server software. At each TV / display, I have a SageTV media extender, which is like the WD, except it is totally integrated with SageTV. Sage also produces a software extender, so you can get the same interface on your laptop, even when away from home.

There are other alternatives. Like you could set up a MS Media Center or an Apple-based system.

If you can elaborate on your requirements a bit more, people would be able to provide more useful suggestions.
posted by reddot at 8:25 PM on September 14, 2010

I love my new Sony Bravia's Netflix-streaming. And Pandora. And Picasa. and tons of other stuff. Highly recommended.
posted by milestogo at 11:16 PM on September 14, 2010

If you simply want to stream netflix, the ruko box is the way to go. Easy setup nice interface.

if you want more, such as a blu ray player and straming from your computer, it gets more complicated. The easy route for that, which you have for some reason, ruled out, is to get a playstation 3. It is a very good blu ray player, has a built in wireless-n router, works very well with Windows media center, and plays most compressed formats without problem.

I would stongly suggest upgrading to Windows 7. Micorsoft paid a lot of attention to its media streaming capabilites.
posted by rtimmel at 9:04 AM on September 15, 2010

Response by poster: This project got side-tracked for a couple of weeks while I did some renovating, but here, finally, is an update.

Having just blown a wad on getting the place painted, I decided not to get a new tv right now.

I upgraded from Vista to Windows 7 and, for wifi, went with a D-Link DIR-655 Extreme N Gigabit Wireless Router. Set up for both was straightforward, and performance is great.

For movie streaming I went with Roku. Setting that up was downright easy.

Thanks again for the help and suggestions!
posted by Short Attention Sp at 1:26 PM on October 18, 2010

« Older The proper way to clean a futon   |   Should I put a question mark here, because I think... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.