Current State of Roku vs Other Streaming Players - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 26 Old 02-09-2010, 10:53 AM - Thread Starter
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I'll just link to two threads I found by searching which had great info in them, but unfortunately, I don't know how dated the info is. I don't want to resurrect them with no posts in the past 6 months or so, so I'll just link to em.

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...light=roku+ps3

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...oku+ps3&page=2

I was able to watch my first HD stream from Netflix this past weekend and was impressed enough to start shopping for a device. I was not the least impressed with the interface on the PS3 though, and didn't like that it still needs a DVD in it to play a streaming movie. The quality though was beautiful.

I saw several people in those threads talking about available bandwidth limiting their experience. I hope that won't affect me on my connection. I think I've got 5 or 6MB down and regularly can sustain a constant 630KB/Sec actual transfer. Hopefully that's enough to support HD in its present form.

I like the idea of the Roku, and the very simple remote. I've never seen the interface but it can't be worse than the PS3. After speaking to Netflix, HD streaming to a PC is still a long way off. The Roku is even more appealing if the quality of the SD streaming is better than it used to be. I don't stream much at all now mostly because I'm a bit of a snob concerning the image quality I watch. I rarely watch anything on DVD anymore. I use a projector and when the image gets large, it really showcases the weaknesses of the lesser formats.

I'd really like to hear opinions from folks who've compared the current Roku to streaming BD players or consoles. Also, an old post above did say that Roku was looking to add a whole bunch of other content streaming besides Netflix. If that's a reality, I'm interested in feedback on that as well. Really, any info on the current state of affairs would be nice.

Thanks in advance.
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post #2 of 26 Old 02-09-2010, 11:32 AM
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All the interfaces are the pretty much same and actually the PS3 interface is better than the roku box. some interfaces like the PS3 let you browse some content which is not in your streaming Q. some dont........... I think the interface is very simple and easy to use and is much better than all the RealTek streamers and NMT devices out there for LAN streaming... but everyone is entitled to their opinion. I have first hand experience with PlayOn, Roku, Samsung BD, LG BD PLayer, PS3 and Xbox 360.

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post #3 of 26 Old 02-09-2010, 11:56 AM - Thread Starter
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Probably due to its other capabilities, I found the PS3 to be less than intuitive. I suppose browsing the movies wasn't an issue, and once I had it playing it was fine, but up to that point I wasn't thrilled with the amount of time it took to get started. I don't own a PS3 so my experience with it is limited. Navigation certainly isn't second nature to me. I never did see where I could add movies without going to the PC. It must be there though.

The one very appealing thing to me about some of the other solutions is the ability for me to play something without getting up off the couch. As I understand it, they are working on that for the PS3 but for now, you need a dvd. Additionally, it's way more money. Though, not really any more than the LG BR player. And that I don't understand at all. It looks like saving any money at all on hardware pretty much means Roku or bust. After that you're just buying whatever additional features fit your situation.

Thanks for the feedback.
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post #4 of 26 Old 02-09-2010, 12:27 PM
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There is no way to add movies to your instant Queue without visiting a PC or MAC.

I bought a LG-BD270 around xmas for $120 as a gift. the price is back up but the LG and Samsung BD players are your next cheapest choices to the roku box at least at the moment until some other low cost non BD streamers start shipping with netflix support.

not sure about your time concern. with PS3 you insert the disc. it autoplays, you select a movie and hit play. I am not sure how much simpler it could be sans eliminating the need for the DISC which is a marketing/licensing issue not a technical issue.

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post #5 of 26 Old 02-09-2010, 12:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sean_w_smith View Post

There is no way to add movies to your instant Queue without visiting a PC or MAC.

Now that I think about it, I suppose if you could, that would be a loophole in the system. Makes sense then. I assume then that is the case for all the devices, yes?

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I bought a LG-BD270 around xmas for $120 as a gift. the price is back up but the LG and Samsung BD players are your next cheapest choices to the roku box at least at the moment until some other low cost non BD streamers start shipping with netflix support.

Wow, that's about $180 less than I've seen it for. I said to my sister the other day to just go get one cause they were relatively cheap, but wow, when I saw the price I figured I'd just remembered wrong.

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not sure about your time concern. with PS3 you insert the disc. it autoplays, you select a movie and hit play. I am not sure how much simpler it could be sans eliminating the need for the DISC which is a marketing/licensing issue not a technical issue.

Eliminating that media for me is a big issue, I'm sure for some it is not. I was not aware it was a licensing issue. I was just told "they were working on it" by another nf user.
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post #6 of 26 Old 02-09-2010, 01:12 PM - Thread Starter
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A quick call to Netflix answered a few of my questions. According to them, the Roku HD is limited to output via HDMI for HD content. If someone knows otherwise, please correct me. I would not be surprised if some others are also.

The particular CSR I spoke to owns an Xbox and said that either the Xbox or PS3 allow you to add items to your Q, but only those two devices do that. The Xbox however requires a gold something-or-other membership that costs ~$8/ month to use. It does not require any media in the unit though. The PS3 on the other hand, requires the use of media, but does not have an additional monthly fee associated with the ability to stream.

They knew nothing about plans to add browsing/adding capability to the Roku. Also did not know if the media in the PS3 would be needed in the future or not.
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post #7 of 26 Old 02-09-2010, 05:09 PM
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Its the xbox 360 that lets you add. The disc in the PS3 is widely speculated to be caused by an exclusivity agreement with microsoft concerning netflix on the 360. such said agreeement is rumored to expire later this year...

looks like the BD currently is at cheapest $170

http://www.abt.com/product/39767/LG-...4-000423bb4e79

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post #8 of 26 Old 02-09-2010, 06:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Kewl, I'll keep an eye on that and might just grab one if the price comes down. Knowing me, I'll probably have a Roku too...
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post #9 of 26 Old 02-10-2010, 07:19 PM
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I know that you always get the warning that HD playback from Netflix depends on your download speed, and that makes sense. But do any of the players like Roku, PS3, or Blu-ray players make use of buffering to help smooth things out? Other than the PS3, the others won't have a hard drive, but they can certainly have RAM made available. I don't know how much the Roku has, but new Blu-ray players will have 1 Gig or more with an SD card or USB drive. If RAM is available does it get used for buffering and how much does that help?


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post #10 of 26 Old 02-10-2010, 07:23 PM
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All the players have buffering and the amounts vary by machine. Buffering just helps deal with inconsistencies or jitter in the arrival time of packets. It does not make up for slow networks...

reliable quality streaming requires bandwidth and low jitter. buffering helps with moderate jitter but the quality of the ISP and route between you and the netflix servers is going to determine the ultimate quality.

I have never had any issues at any of my 3 houses and via 4 different ISPs. have had some issues on crappy hotel networks that are way over subscribed.

Sean
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post #11 of 26 Old 02-10-2010, 07:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sean_w_smith View Post

All the players have buffering and the amounts vary by machine. Buffering just helps deal with inconsistencies or jitter in the arrival time of packets. It does not make up for slow networks...

reliable quality streaming requires bandwidth and low jitter. buffering helps with moderate jitter but the quality of the ISP and route between you and the netflix servers is going to determine the ultimate quality.

I have never had any issues at any of my 3 houses and via 4 different ISPs. have had some issues on crappy hotel networks that are way over subscribed.

Sean

Thanks, Sean for the quick reply. My download usually tests out better than 4 Mbps, so in general I think I will be OK, but I still think even a few seconds of buffering would help with intermittent blips. But I never worked with one of these so I don't know.

Do you know how much RAM the Roku has dedicated to buffering? Will upcoming Blu-ray players likely have the same amount, more or less? I know that last question would likely be a guess, but I am still interested in your thoughts.


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post #12 of 26 Old 02-10-2010, 07:36 PM
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I have the Roku HD and love it. I had to upgrade my high speed internet from cable to DSL for the Roku to really shine in terms of almost zero buffering and consistent 720p content. For $99 I think its a great deal if you already have a Netflix subscription.
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post #13 of 26 Old 02-10-2010, 07:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OaklandRobb View Post

Thanks, Sean for the quick reply. My download usually tests out better than 4 Mbps, so in general I think I will be OK, but I still think even a few seconds of buffering would help with intermittent blips. But I never worked with one of these so I don't know.

Do you know how much RAM the Roku has dedicated to buffering? Will upcoming Blu-ray players likely have the same amount, more or less? I know that last question would likely be a guess, but I am still interested in your thoughts.


Robb

Again, in my best GUESS as someone who designs chips for a living I would be surprised if ALL the current designs did not have at least a few seconds worth of buffering. They would have too many problems if they didn't. How much each design uses is not known.

I can tell you from long experience (I bought the roku the day it came out) and from helping friends setup well over a dozen of these and owning a few PS3's and a few HTPCs that they generally work very well. 4meg is a pretty slow so I would not expect to get their highest quality HD stream which is closer to 5M but you should have good success as most do.

as with anything related to the internet there are many many factors that determine the final outcome.

and I dont know about oakland but comcast here in silicon valley Comcast offers up to 100M down and I get 20M down and 10M up on their CHEAPO package!

Sean
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post #14 of 26 Old 02-10-2010, 07:46 PM
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Thanks, Sean. That is a very helpful reply.


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post #15 of 26 Old 02-10-2010, 10:40 PM
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The PS3 Classic sucks down 167 watts when playing a Blu-ray. At a guess it's probably about the same when streaming. That's absurdly high. The Slim is quite a bit better at 75 watts, but a Roku doubtlessly sips electricity compared to those behemoths.
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post #16 of 26 Old 02-11-2010, 12:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Houston_Keith View Post

I had to upgrade my high speed internet from cable to DSL for the Roku to really shine in terms of almost zero buffering and consistent 720p content.

"Upgrading" from cable to DSL? Shouldn't that be the other way around?
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post #17 of 26 Old 02-11-2010, 02:28 PM
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FYI, I have had the Samsung BD-P1590 (same as 1600) for several months and am very impressed with it's Netflix capability. Samsclub has them for $128 and you can find refurbished units for $99. I am on Roku's mailing list and I think they are currently offering free shipping. For around $100 it's hard to go wrong with either player.

Jay
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post #18 of 26 Old 02-11-2010, 02:47 PM
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I've have both xbox360 and Roku (original one). I use Xbox way more just due to the room it is in.

Xbox requires xbox live, which I would not pay for just for movie streaming. I pay netflix for that already. Xbox really sucked until I bought a proper xbox remote. Using the game controller was a pain, I'd hit the wrong button all the time, and end up in some sort of 10x fast forward mode or something. A used $7 Xbox remote from Gamestop solved that. Xbox does let you browse outside your queue which roku does not.

Now that I have the Xbox remote, I don't really have a strong preference between the 2. I wish Roku would add some sort of DLNA client or other Lan streaming. It would be a killer box then.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantom Gremlin View Post

The PS3 Classic sucks down 167 watts when playing a Blu-ray. At a guess it's probably about the same when streaming. That's absurdly high. The Slim is quite a bit better at 75 watts, but a Roku doubtlessly sips electricity compared to those behemoths.

I'm sure Roku doesn't use anywhere near that much while playing, but my Roku has no off switch that I can find and is always mildly warm after being unused for days or weeks.
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post #19 of 26 Old 02-11-2010, 04:21 PM
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"Upgrading" from cable to DSL? Shouldn't that be the other way around?

I live in an apartment complex in Sugar Land Texas and my bandwidth was just awful with Ygnition Cable. My understanding is that with internet through a cable connection, you are basically "sharing" bandwidth with the other internet cable users in the immediate vicinity. Windstream offered a much higher speed dedicated DSL connection so I switched and voila! All of my movies now look like they are supposed to with the Roku Player. Oddly, Amazon Video on Demand through my Panasonic V10 is still chopping and prone to buffering.
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post #20 of 26 Old 02-11-2010, 04:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Houston_Keith View Post

I live in an apartment complex in Sugar Land Texas and my bandwidth was just awful with Ygnition Cable. My understanding is that with internet through a cable connection, you are basically "sharing" bandwidth with the other internet cable users in the immediate vicinity. Windstream offered a much higher speed dedicated DSL connection so I switched and voila! All of my movies now look like they are supposed to with the Roku Player. Oddly, Amazon Video on Demand through my Panasonic V10 is still chopping and prone to buffering.

DSL is only not shared between your house and the central office. This is true but generally bogus marketing information used by telcos. after the 1st hop everything is shared. What its really all about in general is if there is enough bandwidth to service the sum of subscribers across the whole network. Obviously your cable company was doing a bad job there or you had a bad connection. In general cable modems and HFC( Hybrid Fiber Coax Networks) can provide substanitally more bandwisth to the end user. In general cable modem speeds across america tend to beat DSL speeds but it all depends on your implimentation. The Max DSL I get where I live is 7Down and 1.5 Up whereas with Cable I could get 100Down and 10 up. Where i used to live same thing with DSL and max on Cable is 20M down and 1M up.

Everything varies by provider but cable has more capacity than existing DSL solutions to provide really high speeds.

Sean
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post #21 of 26 Old 02-12-2010, 12:33 PM
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Originally Posted by K-Spaz View Post

A quick call to Netflix answered a few of my questions. According to them, the Roku HD is limited to output via HDMI for HD content. If someone knows otherwise, please correct me. I would not be surprised if some others are also.

The Roku outputs HD (720p) over component.

Roku also has plans to add netflix browsing to their box. This would allow you to browse netflix content and add it to your queue w/o a computer. Of course no ETA has been given for this functionality yet.
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post #22 of 26 Old 02-12-2010, 12:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sean_w_smith View Post

There is no way to add movies to your instant Queue without visiting a PC or MAC.

I use the Pocketflicks app on the iphone to add movies to my instant queue. Works great and I never have to turn the pc on.
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post #23 of 26 Old 02-12-2010, 12:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sean_w_smith View Post

DSL is only not shared between your house and the central office. This is true but generally bogus marketing information used by telcos. after the 1st hop everything is shared. What its really all about in general is if there is enough bandwidth to service the sum of subscribers across the whole network. Obviously your cable company was doing a bad job there or you had a bad connection. In general cable modems and HFC( Hybrid Fiber Coax Networks) can provide substanitally more bandwisth to the end user. In general cable modem speeds across america tend to beat DSL speeds but it all depends on your implimentation. The Max DSL I get where I live is 7Down and 1.5 Up whereas with Cable I could get 100Down and 10 up. Where i used to live same thing with DSL and max on Cable is 20M down and 1M up.

Everything varies by provider but cable has more capacity than existing DSL solutions to provide really high speeds.

Sean

Its true that cable has higher capacity, but in my experience (with 2 different cable companies & 3 difference DSL providers) DSL gives a much more stable connection. Prior to switching to FIOS at my current house, my cable internet would vary anywhere from its rated 15 mbps, to less than 1 mbps on a minute by minute basis during the peak hours of 4pm-10pm. A steady 7mbps connection would be an "upgrade" from an inconsistent 15 mbps connection for a device such as the Roku with its limited buffer size.
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post #24 of 26 Old 02-12-2010, 05:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scyber View Post

Its true that cable has higher capacity, but in my experience (with 2 different cable companies & 3 difference DSL providers) DSL gives a much more stable connection. Prior to switching to FIOS at my current house, my cable internet would vary anywhere from its rated 15 mbps, to less than 1 mbps on a minute by minute basis during the peak hours of 4pm-10pm. A steady 7mbps connection would be an "upgrade" from an inconsistent 15 mbps connection for a device such as the Roku with its limited buffer size.

Has nothing to do with DSL or Cable only how well the provider builds out their network.

The Cable versus DSL argument is mute because it only generally covers 1 hop. Only 1 thing is certain in that debate. Cable is absolute terms has the potential for speeds more than several orders of magnitude more than DSL. FTTH has the potential for many orders of magnitude beyond that.

Everything else is dependent on how the provider built the network and the usage patterns of its customers.

I'm curious. You describe the roku's box size as limited (no such thing as an infinite buffer). what details can you share about that. I have never seen any published data on any netflix implimentations buffer scheme.

Sean
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post #25 of 26 Old 02-12-2010, 07:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scyber View Post

The Roku outputs HD (720p) over component.

Roku also has plans to add netflix browsing to their box. This would allow you to browse netflix content and add it to your queue w/o a computer. Of course no ETA has been given for this functionality yet.

Thanks Scyber.

I'd probably hook up via hdmi anyhow, but that question had come up elsewhere and I thought I'd ask it. I sorta expected the rep not to have detailed info on the Roku. Even I thought my questions were a bit much, sorta off topic for a NF CSR.
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post #26 of 26 Old 02-12-2010, 07:44 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scyber View Post

but in my experience (with 2 different cable companies & 3 difference DSL providers) DSL gives a much more stable connection. Prior to switching to FIOS at my current house, my cable internet would vary anywhere from its rated 15 mbps, to less than 1 mbps on a minute by minute basis during the peak hours of 4pm-10pm. A steady 7mbps connection would be an "upgrade" from an inconsistent 15 mbps connection for a device such as the Roku with its limited buffer size.

These experiences mirror mine.

When I had crapcast cable here, my service was horrible. I can remember going days not able to FTP a 10K text file. Other family members locally had similar issues. Today I was working onsite for a customer, and download speeds on crapcast were 170K/sec from HP.com and ATI.com. What a joke. My service at home would completely drop out for hours at a time on a daily basis. EVERY day, not once in a while. If the sun was out, so was my cable. It didn't win awards at night either. It couldn't handle a vonage phone. Now on DSL, my service has not been out for 1 minute in 3 years. At work, we have had one outage of our Verizon DSL since 2003. Know what it was? Comcast dug up the cables.

Not much chance of streaming movies over cable here.
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