Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Andy got a Roku! (Product Review)


Hey y'all!  Hugs, kisses, yada yada yada...

If you're interested in a piece of equipment that allows you to play streaming video from the net (The Netflix®, Hulu, NHL games, Pandora, Amazon junk, etc.) without the need of a pc, then The Roku® just might be for you.

Now, this is not a paid endorsement, nor will I get one red cent if you click through the link I'm gonna give y'all.  I'm doing this product review just as a service to humanity.

It all started like this.  I am quite possibly the last human in North America to purchase a flat screen television set.  Well, maybe not the last, but one of 'em anyway.  Yep, the old 19" RCA in #4 son's room cratered about a month ago.  Nyuk!  When I hauled it out of the house, I looked at the manufacture date.  It was built in 1983, so I reckon we got our money out of that one.

Anyway, I put our old 19" from the bedroom in there, and went down to The WalMart, where I purchased a flat panel Sanyo 26" TV. I noticed all these plugs on the side, and come to find out that it has inputs for about a million sources. So, I began to download pirated movies to my Toshiba netbook, and hooked it up to the TV to look at.

The results were pretty dang good. But, I got to feeling a little guilty about stealing the intellectual property of others. Also, the quality at The Pirate Bay is hit and miss (and, I downloaded two trojan horses, which AVG caught, thankfully).

So, as I mentioned in an earlier post, I signed up for The Netflix®. Instead of the "All You Can Watch Online" program for eight bucks a month, I opted to splurge the extra two bucks a month to also be able to get movies mailed to me that are not available for streaming (there are MANY that are not, so you might want to look in to that if you're considering joining up with The Netflix®).

Now, as y'all know, I am not a big film watcher. But, The Mrs. enjoys looking at movies, and I can tell you that our The Netflix® membership has paid for itself big-time. We were using my netbook to access The Netflix®, and playing it on our new TV.  The problem comes when I take my netbook along with me somewhere, and she's stuck at the house wanting to look at a film or something.

So, I went looking for a cheap way to access The Netflix®. I do not have, nor did I want an X-Box. I certainly didn't want to buy another small netbook just for that. And, even though we have a pc in the bedroom, it is about 10 feet from the television, and the video cable would have to run across a doorway...be plugged up, and unplugged each time it was used, etc.

The Netflix® was promoting The Roku®, so I took a look at it. I figured, "What the heck! For $59.95 (plus tax & shipping), it's worth a shot. Plus, they give you 30 days to return it if you don't like it." So, I bit!

The Roku® arrived just as promised a couple of days after I ordered it.  Dang! It's a little bitty thing, too.


(Our bedroom is not Pepto Bismol pink, regardless of what this picture shows.  That would be gross.  It is a beautiful muted shade of something like a dark mauve, which everyone that passes through that room wants to paint their bedroom like it, but I digress. )

The set-up is very easy.  It comes with RCA cables to connect to your inputs. (You can use an HDMI cable, but TheWalMart is awful proud of those, so I decided to go with what came with it).  It begins setting up immediately after you plug it in.  The setup prompts you to connect to your wireless network (which I had to call #3 son for the code to do it).  It then goes through a search for software updates, restarts, and then prompts you to go to your The Netflix® account, register The Roku® to your account, and it's done.

Well, not completely done. You do have to provide a credit card, or a PayPal account in order to activate the machine. There is no monthly charge for using it, but a payment method must be in place, should you decide to stream some type of premium content from the worldwide computer. (I used my PayPal account, even though I don't ever intend to charge anything. But who knows?)

Then you're ready to get to looking at films. The main menu is very user friendly, and navigates easily. There is an on-screen keyboard that you use to type in the name of a film, or television program available on The Netflix®.  It helps you, too.  As you start to type in letters, it provides a list of possibles, and narrows the list as you type more letters.  That's nice of 'em.  As with using your pc on The Netflix® you can add selections to your queue. If you need to pause for a while you can. Or, if you have to go do something productive, you can just shut it down and it remembers where you left off looking.

I haven't tried accessing Hulu, or Pandora, or anything else yet, but I'll give 'er a rip, and let y'all know if there are any hiccups. You know, I've found myself watching movies again, now that I can look at good films that I like from years and years ago. Most of the crap made recently ain't worth warm spit, but I've enjoyed watching films with The Mrs. You know...good stuff that we looked at years ago, and wanted to look at again.

Heck, last night I was over at The Mayor's pitiful blog, and he featured "The Jerk" as some movie that was supposed to be hard to guess, or something. Nyuk...

I thought, "Man, I'd like to look at "The Jerk" again." So, I did. (Well, at least about the first 20 minutes of it until I fell on off to sleep. But, it was pretty cool to just be able to dial it up at will).

Is this an amazing time, or what?

So, to wrap this up and put y'all out of your misery, I'm gonna go ahead on and give The Roku® two thumbs up, and recommend it to y'all.  You may already have a setup you're happy with, but one of these little things may come in handy in another bedroom, or family room, or wherever.

Now, I gotta warn y'all that it is chink made.  So, if you hate the chinks you might not like that aspect of it.  Just sayin'...

Let me know if you have any questions, and I'll see if I know.


  1. Pretty dang cool! I guess our problem is the code-thingy. We suckered into the PS-3 so Pepper can play a Tiger Woods game that some offspring gave him, thinking we had the equipment to run it. But we can't make the PS-3 thingy to talk to the Internet for Netflix. It's odd.

    Enjoy your movies!!!

  2. Oh Moogie! I forgot to mention that you don't have to have a wireless network. It also has an ethernet connection. Works good.

  3. Is this an amazing time, or what?

    Yup! Saved us from the rockin' chair, it did. Well, almost.

  4. As awesome as this sounds, I am assuming that you HAVE to have a television to play it.

    I do not have a television at all, I left mine in KY for the twelve year old.

  5. Yeah, Paul, a TV is pretty much required. Get you one...they're cheap.

  6. Wow, that bedroom sure is PINK.

    What a PINK bedroom that is.

    I've heard that PINK can really sooth the soul.

    My sisters had PINK bedrooms when they were kids.

    My daughter had a PINK bedroom for a few years too.

    That's ok, some girls like PINK rooms.

    I'm sure the OWNER of that PINK room really likes HER PINK room.


    Good to read about your Tv being put to use Paul..

  7. If you only knew how cheap the HDMI cables really are. The $90 cable was about $14 employee cost at Best Buy. Someone told me that is how they can sell the TV's and play stations so cheap. It is everything else that costs money.

  8. The first movie we streamed was "The Big Lebowski". My son is always streaming weapon and war tv shows too.

  9. MUD, I suspected as much. I was shocked at how much they get for a little piece of wire.

    Jilly, I'll have to check that one out.


Don't cuss nobody out, okay?