My dad is a smart cookie! As a PhD Electrical Engineer and published author, he knows his stuff when it comes to technology. For Christmas, I got him a Roku Video Player to connect to his Netflix service. I asked him to write a blog about his experience and I'm happy to have him as a guest blogger on my site. (Looks like my gift was a success!) His post is below... thanks dad! Netflix Movie Streaming Hookup It is easy to select from more than 17,000 movies to view on your TV if you have a high-speed Internet connection for both a Personal Computer and a Digital Video Player. The cost is just a little more than $100 up front and $9/month. My son, Tom III, asked me to describe my recent experience creating such a setup. Several alternative ways of doing this are described at: http://www.netflix.com/GetStartedStreamingInstantly A Roku Video Player was a Christmas gift from my son, but it can be bought from Amazon.com by searching there with keywords “Roku HD Player” to find it available for $99.99 plus shipping.
It is a small box with separate power supply that connects to a TV using the included composite audio/video cables or by connecting to the S-Video or HDMI high-definition jacks to get better picture quality. The Roku Player also must connect to the Internet by either Ethernet cable or by its built-in Wi-Fi if you have a wireless local area network (LAN). You can sign up for Netflix’s cheapest option of $8.99 per month “1 DVD out at-a-time (Unlimited)” with a menu of 100,000 rented movies and TV shows on DVDs sent by mail, which also includes the Netflix "Watch Instantly" Internet streaming feature for more than 17,000 of those titles. Activating Watch Instantly is easy by running Netflix.com on your PC while the Roku Player is connected to both the TV and Internet.
The Roku Player comes with a small remote control, and the TV will show you a five-digit code, which you then enter on your PC using the Activate feature on the Netflix website. Any time after that you can add selected movies to your Netflix Instant Queue on the PC. Movies that can be streamed to your TV are marked with a small blue Play button. That queue also appears on your Roku TV screen where you can select a movie to watch. Netflix will ask you by e-mail about picture quality when you watch your first streamed movie. I chose to connect my Roku Player to one of the High Definition HDMI jacks on my Sony LCD TV. Because that port was already used for my DVD player, I bought additional accessories by searching Amazon using the following keywords (I also show their respective costs): “HDMI cable 3 ft” $3.13 “HDMI cable 6 ft” $9.99 “Apogee HDMI 3x1 mini switcher” $15.70 The small Apogee Switcher has one HDMI port to connect to the TV and three HDMI ports to connect to video devices, one being my Roku Player. The included remote control is not essential because the Player has a button to select one of the three video devices. It also has a smart select feature, which switches to the video device last turned on. The Roku Player hookup with my Apple iMac PC and Airport Extreme base station worked flawlessly the first try. Finally, current background information is available for these video-streaming systems. For example, search for the keywords “Netflix Watch Instantly” at: http://news.google.com. Netflix's streaming service could be endangered if broadband Internet providers should impose limits on heavy bandwidth applications like video. There have been reports of proposed bandwidth restraints that may be necessary without advances in digital network technology. My Cox Preferred cable download speed is about 12 megabits per second (Mbps) and streamed Netflix movies started in less than a minute and played smoothly with excellent picture quality. A Typical DVD movie disk contains about 32,000 Mb. The Roku Player tests your Internet connection speed and delivers the TV resolution your connection can handle without interruption. Roku notes that speeds greater than 2.5 Mbps provide highest quality, and speeds less than 1.5 Mbps provide basic TV quality. Apparently terrestrial broadband Internet service is best for acceptable movie video streaming. Some satellite Internet providers limit the amount of download data to less than 3600 Mb downloaded in any 24-hour period. Thomas R, Cuthbert, Jr.