This is an update to a post from a couple months ago. It reflects some permanent price drops on the Roku line of set-top boxes!
Looking for an easy way to watch streaming Netflix movies and TV shows? Look no further than the Roku HD, a tiny set-top box that streams from not only Netflix, but also Major League Baseball, Amazon Video on Demand, Flickr, Pandora, and dozens more content providers.
Roku just dropped the price of this model to a very tempting $69.99, and if you buy it from Amazon, you'll get a $10 Video on Demand credit.
I use my Roku primarily to watch Netflix, as it lets me browse, queue, and watch on-demand any movie or TV show in the service's Watch Instantly library. It's awesome. Keep in mind, though, that you'll need to BYO Netflix subscription, and certain other services (like MLB.com) require subscriptions as well.
Ideally, you'll connect the box to your TV via an HDMI cable (though other connection types are available, including component video). Roku doesn't supply one, but here's a dandy 5-foot HDMI cable for $2.99 shipped. The player connects to the Internet via Eithernet or your home Wi-Fi network.
One important side-note about Wi-Fi: the HD model tops out at 802.11g, which you may find lacks the bandwidth for streaming high-def content. I recommend running Ethernet cable if you can; otherwise, consider paying extra for Roku's HD-XR model, which supports the faster 802.11n standard. (That's assuming your router supports it as well, of course). It now sells for $99.99, and also comes with the $10 VOD credit when purchased from Amazon.
I'm a big fan of the Roku boxes, but I always thought they were overpriced. At $69.99, however, the Roku HD now qualifies as a solid deal. Would you agree?
Bonus deal: Normally I wouldn't recommend buying a refurbished hard drive, but I have to at least mention this: Newegg has a refurbished Western Digital Elements 1TB external hard drive for $44.99. Shipping adds another five bucks. That's just incredible. The warranty is for six months, so I consider this a pretty safe bet.