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Roku Netflix Player: Streaming Movies On Your TV

Last week, online movie rental company Netflix announced the production and sale of the unimaginatively named Netflix Player. Created by technology manufacturer Roku, the Netflix Player does something that Netflix's customers have been clamoring for the past year: You can now stream your Netflix rentals directly to your computer.

The Netflix Player works in-sync with Netflix's movie streaming service. Starting at $4.99 a month, Netflix customers are able to watch "10, 000 movies and TV episodes such as The Matrix, Super Size Me, and The Office" on their computers. Now, instead of streaming these movies and TV shows to their computer, owners of the Netflix Player connects your Netflix account to your television so that you can watch your streaming movies and TV shows directly on your TV. Use of the Netflix Player doesn't require any changes in your Netflix rental plan, and it treats your streaming movies like a DVD so you can pause and even rewind your Netflix rentals.

The Roku Netflix Player is very plain. Don't expect it to look chic and cool like the Apple TV. It's plain and black and looks very utilitarian. On the front is a plain black faceplate with the "Roku" logo on the bottom right hand corner. In the back of the box are a host of connection options, including the following:

Video Connections: - HDMI - S Video - Composite Video - Component Video

Audio Connections: - Analog Stereo Audio - Digital Optical Audio

Internet Connections: - Wi Fi (802.11b and the faster 802.11g protocols) - Hard wire Ethernet port

As the official Netflix Player homepage promises, the Netflix Player is "guaranteed to work" with "[w]hatever kind of TV you have." The Netflix player also comes with a Netflix remote, which looks as plain and simple as the box it controls.

Setting up the Netflix Player by Roku is quite simple. You simply plug it in, connect it to your TV, and turn it on. You'll be given a special Netflix confirmation key that, once entered into your online Netflix account, will link your Netflix Player's hardware with your Netflix movie rental account.

The Netflix Player will download your movie rentals via Ethernet or wireless Internet, depending on how you configured it. You'll have to note that the Netflix Player isn't a computer in itself. You'll need to access your Netflix online account via a separate PC to tell the Netflix Player what you want to download.

The video playback quality of the Netflix Player is satisfactory. Don't expect HD-quality stuff. However, the video quality of the Netflix Player should be good enough for the casual viewer and, I found, better than the streaming version on the PC.

In comparison to the Apple TV player, Netflix's Netflix Player by Roku is very plain-and rather boring. Whereas the Apple TV player is slick and well-designed, even allowing you to browse and download movie rentals on your TV, the Netflix Player requires a PC for you to tell it what to do. Of course, there is room for improvement and, as this is the first version of the Netflix Player, it will probably become better in the future.

Overall, the Netflix Player is an excellent hardware purchase option for Netflix subscribers who wish to view their movies on their TV instead of on a tiny computer screen. Using the Netflix Player doesn't incur extra charges on your Netflix account, making it a wise purchase for those who wish to increase the value of the Netflix subscriber package that they're already paying for.

Sources: http://www.roku.com/netflixplayer/ http://www.netflix.com/HowItWorks

By Penny Richards - A traveling explorer who enjoys experiencing life at its fullest.  


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