Roku Digital Video Player – Top Pick for Father’s Day

"For On-Demand Movies at Plan-Ahead Prices"

Sidebar-top-image We might have been the last family in our town to get a Netflix account. For years we were harassed by well-meaning friends and family members touting how great the Netflix service was. And, I’ll admit it sounded great, but I just couldn’t get past the monthly invoice whether you were fully utilizing the service or not. As a family that has sporadic schedules and spends very little time at home, I was doubtful we would use the service enough to warrant signing up for it.     

Hubby likes to watch movies based on suggestions by friends, family, or random strangers in the check out line. You name it and he puts it on his watch list. Me, I’m more selective about my movie watching since I have so few viewing hours available each month. Which brings us to our main problem with renting movies: coordinating the time to watch that works for both of us and coordinating which movies to have on hand for those nights. We knew that with a regular Netflix account it would only be a matter of time before we stalled out on a movie we both wanted to watch but couldn’t find the time for, or that we would end up with all movies only one of us wanted to see.  

Nearly all of the issues I had with the Netflix service were solved by one little box that is roughly the size of a paperback Stephen King novel. That little box is the Roku digital video player, which lets you watch all the videos Netflix has available for streaming on your TV instead of just on your computer. On demand? Check. Good for traveling? Check. We finally caved and signed up for the Netflix service, which wasn’t painful at all. A few minutes of fill in the blanks and we were off choosing movies.  Hubby couldn’t contain himself, but I was still reserved. 

Back_sm The next step was hooking the Roku up to our television and syncing it to our Netflix account. We took the Roku out of its package, put batteries into the remote, hooked up the included video and audio cables to the TV and plugged in the power cord – all without looking at instructions, because hubby is that good. When you first turn it on it asks if you have wired or wireless connection, ours was wireless, so we entered the code for our home network. The Roku then gives you a code to enter online with Netflix and you are up and running. Minutes after tearing open the package and we were ready for viewing.

AmazonWhatInBox_tHubby couldn't wait to fully search the Netflix site, choosing from over 12,000 movies and TV titles to add to our instant queue to watch on our TV whenever and wherever we want, over and over again. No scheduling conflicts or worrying about who wanted to see which movie. And how do the videos look? That is completely dependant on your internet connection, but it ranges from so-so all the way up to HD (720p). Our internet speed is fairly slow at 768kb/sec, which we thought would be a good trial for the Roku.  Even at half the recommended minimum speed and we still get two out of the four quality dots, which translates to about VHS quality viewing. Not bad, considering we thought the Roku wouldn’t even work on such a minimal connection.

Part of what attracted us to the Roku was the promise that more channels would soon be available. We had a we'll see attitude about “coming soon” features, but were shocked when the updates and upgrades were ready far quicker than we imagined. Not only did they arrive mere months after they were announced, but they arrived automatically, sneaking into our Roku as we slept like a little Roku fairy. The updates came in the form of improved video quality and an added Video On Demand channel. Yesssssss, no need to upgrade internet connection speed and thousands more titles to choose from. 

StartScreenV1_t With the Amazon channel you can either rent movies or TV shows with no monthly fees. The rental fee ranges from $.99-$3.99 for a 24hr period, easily comparable with your local video rental store but much more convenient and with no need to return. Let’s say you fall in love with the Alvin and the Chipmunks movie and can’t imagine life without it {which my nephew swears will be the case}, then you’ll be pleased to know that movies are available for purchase as well. The purchase prices are surprisingly reasonable, ranging from about $4.99-$14.99. 

And Amazon has over 40,000 movies and TV shows available, with new shows available the day after they air and movies the same day as the DVD release date. With the Roku there are no sold out new releases, no waiting for your favorite TV show to release the full season, just true on-demand viewing. Billing is simple through as well, you just enter your credit card info as you set up your Amazon account, create a password, and then use that to rent or purchase right from your couch through your Roku.   

How-3 Operating the Roku is simple through its included remote which has keys for play/pause, rewind, fast forward, directional arrows, select, and home.  Just enough to do everything you need and nothing more. All the functions work like a DVD player would, you can even stop a movie, then come back days later and pick up right where you left off, even if someone watches something else in between. This feature is perfect if you have more than one movie viewer in the house or if you tend to get distracted and leave movies half watched as I do. 

Another great aspect of the Roku is its portability. You can easily bring it along on vacation or over to a friend’s house and as long as there is an internet connection you can have access to ridiculous amounts of entertainment. We have even dragged our old TV into the back yard gazebo with just an extension cord and our wireless connection and had outdoor movie nights. The kids love it and it’s a way to feel as if you’re far from home and still have all those home comforts – like fresh popped popcorn and a crib for the baby.

In the few months we have been Roku-ing, the only problem we have come across is that some movies that are in English but have parts that are in other languages don’t have subtitles during those parts, and there is no way to turn subtitles off and on. Movies that are fully in a foreign language have the subtitles on automatically, which is great, but it would be nice if they popped up automatically on partial-foreign films as well. Not sure how many casual movie watchers would even notice this inconvenience, but hubby likes to do crazy things like watch partially foreign films.

Yep, only one complaint. One dangerously specific complaint that 99.9% of the population would never even run into with years of viewing. Not bad for the new kid on the playground in the world of digital entertainment. Not conviced you need a Roku? They graciously offer a 30-day money back guarantee to help convince you.   

From the Roku website on product comparisons for Digital Video Players:

Roku Player is Netflix Members' #1 Rated Streaming Device


What I’m raving about: Paired with a Netflix Unlimited account, which is the most common plan, the Roku enables you to watch movies, TV shows and more on demand from your queue – for no additional charge.  This means that you don’t have to plan ahead and have DVDs mailed ahead of time.  If a guest turns out to be a film noir fan or mentions they were dying to watch the new chick flick, or perhaps if a lazy Sunday opportunity presents itself unexpectedly, you will be ready with your Roku

Price: $99

Looks:  An easy to hide cute little black box that takes up almost no space in an entertainment center.

Overall:  A great investment for movie fans as the Roku has the potential to save you hundreds each year – especially if buying and renting movies was your splurge previously.

Leanne SignatureA big thank you to Roku for sending the Roku unit for review. Written in collaboration with Hubby {which is quite possibly our second best collaboration ever}. As always, all opinions are 100% ours.

3 thoughts on “Roku Digital Video Player – Top Pick for Father’s Day”

  1. Great…It is really very much cheaper as comparative to market rate. Thank you for the information. I will surely go for it. And I wish it will give us better quality as compared to other.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.