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Roku XDS or cheap Blu-Ray?

by joker5667 / February 21, 2011 8:38 AM PST

I've been considering getting the Roku XDS as I am currently using my laptop to stream netflix to my tv over an HDMI cable. And I was considering just using a streaming box for convenience and what not. But the XDS is about $100 and it doesn't play disks. I don't currently have a blu-ray player or disks but will likely in the future. Anyway there seems to be BDP's that have streaming apps for netflix like the XDS has... So would I be better off just getting a Blu ray player with streaming services and wi fi or is the XDS menu's and apps worth just buying the streaming box?? I would like one that is wifi ready, no additional adapters. Any advise would be greatly appreciated!

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How about a cheap HTPC?
by Pepe7 / February 21, 2011 11:20 AM PST

You could always build a basic one and add a BD drive later on when you feel you require it.
I've never been a big fan of the somewhat 'tweaky' streaming features of BD player that's $100+ when you can customize something better. The advantage of building a cheap PC is you can choose the software you want to use and update/change as you see fit.

Whether or not Roku works better for your needs than a BD player with streaming apps is purely subjective. Test them both out and pick the one you prefer. For me at least it's the price point that keeps me away.

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Have it.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / February 21, 2011 1:45 PM PST

It does play from USB sticks but after the hoopla I don't it as much as my PC.

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I see
by joker5667 / February 21, 2011 3:18 PM PST
In reply to: Have it.

So the apps and such aren't really worth buying the Roku? So i'd be better off getting a bluray player with a streaming app rather than the XDS? I suppose I should have mentioned my situation is that I don't have cable or anything and just use Netflix/other online sources or watch Dvd's so right now my laptop is tethered to my TV with an HDMI cable So i'm looking for something where I can watch online content on my TV without having to run my computer or have it wired to my TV using it as an extended monitor.

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recommendations....
by joker5667 / February 21, 2011 3:22 PM PST
In reply to: I see

If the Roku isn't the way to go is there a Blu Ray player you would recommend? I've seen a couple like the LG BD550 or Samsung BD-C6500. Although for samsung I just read that article about the poor reliability that CNET users have...

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Try to run it wired if possible
by Pepe7 / February 22, 2011 1:19 AM PST
In reply to: recommendations....

You will generally have much better/consistent performance if you use such a player with ethernet. That's what I would suggest if you go with the lesser priced 550. If you do decide to go with a wireless connection, I'd suggest one which supports wireless 'N' technology, like the BD570 or 590. Samsungs are still a little buggy for my taste, but YMMV.

Make sure you like the UI on whatever BD player you choose for streaming.

Owners threads over @ AVS:

LG
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?s=1f35316e74d417674592599a1e43fcfc&t=1229543&page=146

Sammy
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1227336

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If watching blu-ray disc is not your priority then...
by ahtoi / February 25, 2011 9:40 AM PST
In reply to: recommendations....

would agree with Doh_1 and go for the Roku. It's seem to that Roku have lot more supports for other online services that a blu-ray player might not have or at least user friendly.

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I have to guess here.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / February 22, 2011 12:38 AM PST
In reply to: I see

That you want the PC Internet experience without the PC. This is where it all comes crashing down for most buyers. They read about Internet TV or Internet BluRay and then rush out and get one.

Next thing you read are complaints that Hulu is not Hulu but Hulu Plus and so on.

That google TV box is pretty close but at 500 bucks, it's as much as a PC.

Bob

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Don't buy technology products until you need them...
by Doh_1 / February 25, 2011 9:11 AM PST

If I were you, I'd just get the Roku box, and wait to get the Blu-Ray player until you need it. This kind of technology gets better as time goes on, so I'd take advantage of that...by the time that you "need" a Blu-Ray player, they will be better.

I still don't have a Blu-Ray player, but with a 37" LCD TV, I really don't need it. Regular DVD's are beautiful and crystal clear on my TV. I do have a Roku box on my list, though, so that I can play Netflix movies through my TV. What's kept me from getting one so far is that I have a really nice 24" monitor that looks great with streaming video, so I haven't felt driven to get a Roku box.

-Roger

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Blu Ray
by bsuddard / February 25, 2011 10:55 AM PST

I picked up the LG590 and I would highly recommend it. Has excellent playback for BD, upconverts your standard DVD's, and connects to your home network via ethernet or wireless for streaming from your computer. All the features you need plus...

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Another option
by onemoremile / February 25, 2011 10:32 PM PST

would be the Apple TV. For 99 bucks you get Netflix, You Tube, flickr, rentals and purchases of TV shows and movies, as well as access to medial stored on your computer. It is very simple to set up and use.

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Even Better Idea! Readme
by bhs506 / February 27, 2011 10:22 AM PST

I am looking into some of the same products and can share some thoughts.
1. Blu Ray players have very limited video format support, i.e. .mov files an
2. Not all blu ray players have USB ports to which you can connect an external drive that can be viewed on your network.
3. Many blu ray players require third party software to stream media from your computer which needs to be on at the same time
4. Not all wifi media players are created equally. Many of them have limited file format support, the Apple TV in particular.
5. No all media players have USB ports to which you can connect an external drive that can be viewed on your network.

The best product, which I am about a week from getting after my HDMI switch works, is the Western Digital TV Live Plus.
Largest file format support
USB, to which you can add external drives that can viewed on your network
Works well with Western Digital My Book Live NAS's that have built in media servers.
However, they may not have the broad array of internet services setup. They do have Pandora, Netflix, and Flixr.

DO NOT GET THE APPLE TV. BY FAR THE MOST EXPENSIVE, LEAST COMPATIBLE, AND FEWEST FEATURES.

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WD TV Live PLus
by bhs506 / February 28, 2011 2:56 AM PST

So I just picked up the TV Live Plus and realized one big feature that I can't believe I overlooked. IT IS ONLY WI-FI READY. You have to also get a wi-fi adapter for the usb port to connect it to your network.

I realize that is a big feature, especially when the Roku does not require a usb adapter. However, the Roku does not support media streaming from a NAS if you chose to do so and hard drives connected via the usb are not visible on the network as shared drives, so you would have to disconnect your drive each time and plug it into your computer to transfer files.

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Cost of the ATV?
by onemoremile / February 28, 2011 5:48 AM PST
In reply to: WD TV Live PLus

So the WD TV Live Plus costs twice as much as the AppleTV and you need to add a WiFi adapter to the WD, yet you say the ATV is "by far the most expensive?". Yes, the WD handles more formats. That is only a benefit to the original poster if that individual has a need to work with oddball formats. As I read the original post, this person is looking for something simple to use. The AppleTV will be far less expensive to buy and much simpler to use than the WD or the Roku. The OP will not need to fool around with a WiFi adapter either; Apole includes one.

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WD TV Live vs Apple TV
by bhs506 / February 28, 2011 7:18 AM PST
In reply to: Cost of the ATV?

I completely agree about the incovenience of the the wifi adapter. That is a huge drawback. But if you compare the costs, $109 for the tv live plus, and about $30 for a usb adapter, put you at $139-140 vs $100 for the apple tv with a few added options. But, the apple tv only supports up to 720p, has no usb port for an external drive, only streams media via itunes, and has an limited file format support.

First, the 720p vs 1080p is a big deal for a lot of people that have nice displays, myself included.
Second, the usb port is nice if you want to connect a drive directly, not have to turn on your computer, already have a drive for backing up home movies, music, pictures, etc. A USB port also adds portability if you want to take the media player with you somewhere, i.e. vacation and have to back up hd movies from a hd camcorder because memory card prices add up fast.
Third, the "streaming" feature on apple tv requires that you get your computer, turn it on, have files saved in a particular way, etc. The original poster mentioned somewhere not wanting to have to get out his/her computer every time. The WD TV Live allows you to purchase a NAS, the WD MyBook Live happens to be very affordable at 2tb, and stream directly to the media player. SO, if you have NAS with a built in media server that you are already using to back up your home computer, now you can also use it to stream media.
Fourth, the limited file format support is a big deal for me because I have an HD camcorder. My understanding from the apple message boards is that despite apple tv listing a lot of formats, there are unclear issues.

I COMPLETELY AGREE about the ease of use for Apple TV, but having just purchased the WD TV live plus, it is really not that hard to set up. I plugged it in, plugged in my hard drive, and was done.

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more choices
by porsche10x / March 5, 2011 7:39 AM PST

My brother-in-law bought two Rokus, and isn't particularly happy with them. He liked them at first, but after a short while had flaky problems, lockups, long and incomplete downloads, etc. Might be his problem, though, and he is using wireless.

I got a Seagate Freeagent Go Plus media player for Xmas. I haven't used it much but it seems to have many, many features and formats and does just about everything I could want. My neighbor has one and loves it. It was on sale for only $50 (without hard drive. another $50 bought a Seagate 500GB that fits nicely inside).

My favorite is my Tivo though. It definitely does not have all the internet features of some of the new media players, but it certainly offers netflix, youtube, amazon, blockbuster, etc. and of course, good ole TV. The interface is probably the most user-friendly of all.

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I WAS WRONG! Partially anyway
by bhs506 / March 5, 2011 9:51 AM PST
In reply to: more choices

Tried the WD TV Live Plus, and worthless for playing HD Home Movies (HD Home camcorders, exported in iMovies as .mov files, very high quality clips, and h.264 compression). I backed up my MacBook onto a new 2TB My Book Essential and whenever I played the movies via the USB, it was always choppy.

Luckily the WD TV Live Plus was a gift and I upgraded to the WD TV Live Hub and transferred the movies to the 1TB drive and they played perfectly. I realized it was the lack of appropriate transfer from the drive because I ran to a store, tried a ASUS O!Play and the had the same problem. Even had the problem with the same movie on a portable drive I had laying around. Clearly the USB port on the TV Live plus can't handle the transfer rates needed for HD Video.

I did learn some negative features of the Roku along the way as well. Once connected to your network it is not seen on your network as a shared drive, nor are any drives connected to the USB port.

I still think the Apple TV blows because files have to be streamed through iTunes, therefore have to be compatible with iTunes, and you also do not have a USB port so streaming video is your only way to play movies you have/downloaded.

I have been pretty happy with the WD TV Live Hub
Pros:
1. 1TB drive built inis great so you don't have to worry about transfer rates for a usb drive or network streaming
2. easy user interface
3. easy set up
4. serves as a shared drive on your network so you can drag and drop files to it or the usb drive (very slow though)
5. detects by drives despite being mac os extended (HFS) formatted

Cons:
1. have to get a usb wireless adapter (this is a bit of a gamble bec they can't guarantee that all adapters will work and you're adding another $50 to the price)
2. very slow to detect my 2TB USB drive each time you power it up

I did learn quickly that you also need to make sure that if you get a device for USB expansion, you should check the file format systems is supports. Most Blu Ray players do not support mac formatted drives which are nice if you like Time Machine.

There is also not a single Blu Ray Player that will play .mov files.

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Standard practice to convert .mov files to something else
by Pepe7 / March 8, 2011 2:57 AM PST

Since the majority of the world isn't working inside the Apple environment (or using iMovie for that matter) it's pretty standard to use any container except .mov. FWIW, IME it's always useful to learn what containers/formats are being used predominantly in cyberspace to get a good sense of what other well supported options exist for ripping/encoding/playback/streaming.

Glad to hear the WD hub worked for you. You eliminated at least one of the bottlenecks in removing USB whenever possible and sticking to streaming via HDMI to the HDTV.

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agreed
by bhs506 / March 8, 2011 5:11 AM PST

I agree that converting from .mov to another format is probably in my best interest. files are generally smaller as well. i've tried exporting files in iMovie as .avi, but regardles of the settings, they turn out horrible. the new issue with the hub is that the wireless usb adapter i purchased because it was very small does not consistently detect by home network and limits streaming capabilities. i'll be replacing it but i am very concerned that there is an intrinsic problem with the hub and how it allocated resources between the two usb ports. i feel like the wifi adapter was fine until i plugged in the external drive and the external drive was better until i plugged in the wifi adapter.

the hub also has compatibility issues with my hdmi switch. it is an auto-switch that does not need to be plugged in. based on the signal from the input (hub, blu ray player, cable box, etc) it can supposedly automatically change inputs. unfortunately the cable works most of the time, blu ray all the time, and hub almost never. not sure if i can blame this on the hub. from what i have read, compatibility with switches and hdmi sources is based completely on luck.

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It just works
by onemoremile / March 8, 2011 10:01 AM PST
In reply to: agreed

The AppleTV would work for you without any of this fooling around. It would stream your .mov files without any trouble, too. The anti-Apple bias that I find on these boards sometimes leads people to take great lengths to get inferior product to work. Strange.

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Relax
by bhs506 / March 9, 2011 12:03 AM PST
In reply to: It just works

@onemoremile: you need to relax on the anti-apple concerns. I think i mentioned earlier that i have been an apple user for about the pat 8 years and i truly appreciate their seamless integration of products. BUT, you also have to understand that if somebody wants to pay $100 for device that only stream internet content and files that are actively being played on their computer, then the Apple TV is a good option. HOWEVER, my goals are to be able to sit down, turn on my television and home entertainment system and if I feel like watching a home movie, look at digital photos, or listen to music and to be able to do so without having to get my computer, open a file, play it in iTunes, and then watch it (only if I have enough storage space on my computer and the format is iTunes compatible).

Until the Apple TV puts a simple USB port on the back, it's not going to take off. It's popularity is because it is competing against a ton of inferior products by companies like ASUS, Seagate, etc, and the only real competitor is the Roku.

I'm not naive and I realize that the WD products have their flaws as well, but a true media player for your home entertainment system should not be that heavily dependent on your computer.

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Please elaborate
by onemoremile / March 9, 2011 1:45 AM PST
In reply to: Relax

Sorry about the Apple remark. As someone who has looked at the WD, the Roku, the ATV and Google TV and bought none of them, I am really just trying to understand the pros and cons of each. I have read through your list of what you would like to accomplish three times and it seems as if the AppleTV would do all of these things without a USB drive, a separate WiFi converter or any file conversions. The only catch is that the computer hosting all of your media must be turned on and connected to the same network as the ATV. There would be no need to open a file or iTunes. Is the issue that you want to view files that you have brought in from other computers? Just wondering.

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Apple TV
by bhs506 / March 9, 2011 3:26 AM PST
In reply to: Please elaborate

No worries. I was told that to use the Apple TV, you had to play the file in iTunes and it would use the Apple TV to basically display the video/music/etc on your tv. It is possible the person was wrong and that Apple TV just sees what is in your iTunes library and can play those files. That still means that the files need to be on your computer, it has a large enough drive to store all of your files, the files are iTunes compatible, and that you computer is up an running iTunes. To me, that seems a very inefficient way to play digital media.

To be completely honest, the best way to do this is to connect a pc with an hdmi output to your television. that is what several friends have done with the biggest limitations being

1. often lack of remote control depending on the pc
2. poor range on wireless keyboards and mice
3. limited output to 720p, not 1080
4. smaller, nice looking computers, i.e. mac mini have very limited storage capacity and you have to connect an external drive.

The WD TV Live Hub has by far been the most user friendly and convenient device so far. It also streams itself to DLNA devices, i.e blu ray players, so if you have a player in another room you can still access that media, assuming the file formats are supported.

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nod nod.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / March 9, 2011 3:32 AM PST
In reply to: Apple TV

My best solution is my second laptop (lenovo y530) to the hdtv.

It does it all without compromise.

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HDMI
by onemoremile / March 9, 2011 8:31 AM PST
In reply to: Apple TV

I also am connecting a computer to my receiver via HDMI at the moment. This is less than ideal because I need to disconnect the second monitor from my computer, run a cable and play the video, photos, etc. from the computer. A device like AppleTV would allow me to do all of this wirelessly from my chair, without touching my computer or any cables.

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Still Not Convinced
by bhs506 / March 9, 2011 10:15 AM PST
In reply to: HDMI

I'm still not entirely convinced you will be able to do that so easily. The computer would still have to be up and running with iTunes running. The Apple message boards say that the Apple TV will play files streamed through iTunes, so part of me still thinks you would have to play the files in iTunes.

Have you talked to someone with an Apple TV to ask them how they "stream" files.

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Apple store
by onemoremile / March 9, 2011 9:22 PM PST
In reply to: Still Not Convinced

I have tried out the ATV in the Apple Store. The computer that hosts local files, such as home movies or your own music, must be on the network and running. The ATV can access content on your computer that is managed by iTunes, iPhoto, etc. The AppleTV also streams files directly from the iTunes Store, Netflix, You Tube, etc., without the need for a computer. You are limited to the online streaming sources that are supported by the device, so you will want to make sure that you can access the material that you want, if streaming is important. On the other hand, the ATV can play copy protected files that you have purchased from the iTunes Store, while other devices may not.

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Makes Sense
by bhs506 / March 9, 2011 11:23 PM PST
In reply to: Apple store

That helps. You're right about the copy protected material. That is an issue with most other devices. One other big negative, but not an issue for me, against Western Digital. There customer service blows, including their second level support.

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Options
by Pepe7 / March 10, 2011 1:01 AM PST
In reply to: Apple TV

Just to provide some food for thought, you can easily find a $20 remote compatible with a Vista or W7 enabled PC/laptop that will also control iTunes. I often peruse newegg.com for such items. Often technically inclined buyers have left comments on what has worked and what has not in their setups. Ditto for finding a good wireless keyboard/mouse that has adquate range for one's needs. There's also a crazy notion of buying an inexpensive repeater ;).

For me #3 is sort of moot, since before you even start this process you should have a relatively up-to-date laptop/PC with decent graphics/HDMI output or capabilities. Luckily the prices are quite reasonable for a very basic desktop/laptop that does this out of the box, especially if someone isn't comfortable building their own for the most control over the components.

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Pot calling the kettle black
by Pepe7 / March 9, 2011 12:22 AM PST
In reply to: It just works

Why must people insist that any comment steering folks away from the Apple ecosystem in one specific situation means they must be 'anti-Apple'. You need to deal with the fact that there are a plethora of preferences out there that lead folks to find other products to suit their needs.

FWIW, your definition of an 'inferior product' might be something that another person has the tech saavy skills and experience to get to work just fine. YMMV.
While it's true the OP might benefit from continuing to use .mov files, the rest of the world has discovered life can exist elsewhere in othe forms ;).

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How about an HDMI splitter? (n/t)
by Pepe7 / March 10, 2011 1:02 AM PST

n/t

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