Is the Roku HD the best option for me? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 22 Old 08-09-2010, 09:02 AM - Thread Starter
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Currently I have the Insignia BD player with built in Wifi that streams Netflix. I want to get another streaming device for our bedroom and move the BD player to our kids room since a) we can stream Netflix kids shows/movies and b) play their Pixar Blu Rays and other dvd's. I don't need a BD player in our room since we still have an SDTV, a lot of DVD's, and an HDTV in the family room with PS3.

At first I considered another Insignia since it was going for $129 this week at Best Buy. We have an extra DVD player so I really only need a streaming device with Netflix. Netflix only showed the Roku of the streamers that have built in Wifi. I'd like to keep costs down and would prefer the HD since I may get an HDTV in the future. I don't plan on getting a bridge. Any other options other than the Roku HD for $90?
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post #2 of 22 Old 08-10-2010, 05:01 PM
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Not sure what else I could suggest that you get, but the Roku is a very nice little device to have. Not only does it stream Netflix, but now they've added all kinds of free streaming content as well. If you like baseball they also have MLB.tv (not free). They also have Amazon VOD on there -- good for TV episodes as well as movies (you only pay for what you want to download). They even have NASA and SpaceVidcast (both are free), if you like keeping up on space-related events. It's a pretty cool thing to have, IMO. I've got the HD version hooked up to my HDTV downstairs, and the HD-XR hooked up to the one upstairs because it's got a better wifi range (which works great -- my router is downstairs and it has no trouble connecting).

DGK
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post #3 of 22 Old 08-11-2010, 07:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeeKaye07 View Post

Not sure what else I could suggest that you get, but the Roku is a very nice little device to have. Not only does it stream Netflix, but now they've added all kinds of free streaming content as well. If you like baseball they also have MLB.tv (not free). They also have Amazon VOD on there -- good for TV episodes as well as movies (you only pay for what you want to download). They even have NASA and SpaceVidcast (both are free), if you like keeping up on space-related events. It's a pretty cool thing to have, IMO. I've got the HD version hooked up to my HDTV downstairs, and the HD-XR hooked up to the one upstairs because it's got a better wifi range (which works great -- my router is downstairs and it has no trouble connecting).

DGK

A Roku product is never the right answer as they have a tendancy to abandon their products and users.
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post #4 of 22 Old 08-11-2010, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by mlknez View Post

A Roku product is never the right answer as they have a tendancy to abandon their products and users.

Wow, you're really upset about those HD1000s from 2003, aren't you? 500+ five-star reviews on Amazon for the Roku HD Player speak pretty well of their level of customer satisfaction.
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post #5 of 22 Old 08-13-2010, 05:13 AM
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Everyone I know who owns a Roku won't stop blabbin about how great it is, just check out the reviews on Amazon and it's cheap.
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post #6 of 22 Old 08-13-2010, 11:08 PM
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If was 2001 when I bought them and yes, I am upset. Just want to warn people that they tend to abandon their users and products.
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post #7 of 22 Old 08-14-2010, 06:55 AM
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What kind of a buffer in the Roku HD? What is the recommended connection speed, considering overhead?
I have broadband, but the data stream for an HD-quality movie might test its limits.

@mlknez: That's what happens on the bleeding edge. I have 3 Replay 5040 boxes and the only way they work for me is to use WiRNS for guide data. I have no idea what happened to my original Replay that I gave to my parents. It didn't have the LAN connection option.
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post #8 of 22 Old 08-14-2010, 10:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sixt7gt350 View Post

What kind of a buffer in the Roku HD? What is the recommended connection speed, considering overhead?
I have broadband, but the data stream for an HD-quality movie might test its limits.

@mlknez: That's what happens on the bleeding edge. I have 3 Replay 5040 boxes and the only way they work for me is to use WiRNS for guide data. I have no idea what happened to my original Replay that I gave to my parents. It didn't have the LAN connection option.

There is a common link, Anthony Wood is the owner of both companies
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post #9 of 22 Old 08-14-2010, 05:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mlknez View Post

A Roku product is never the right answer as they have a tendancy to abandon their products and users.

Sorry you've had trouble. Works great for me and I've had one for over a year with no problems...so I bought another. If one dies I've already gotten back way more than the money I put into it.

DGK
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post #10 of 22 Old 08-14-2010, 06:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mlknez View Post

There is a common link, Anthony Wood is the owner of both companies

was

(I know, because I bought Sonic Blue stock and still had it when they went bankrupt after being sued into oblivion by Hollywood for IVS and auto commercial skip.)

It would probably be more apt to say Anthony Wood started both companies.


Back on topic, I guess I missed the Amazon sale @ $80 for the Roku HD box.
It seems like a good option for when my satellite contract is up in a couple months.
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post #11 of 22 Old 08-16-2010, 12:19 PM
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Can you stream content from a NAS or other media server with the Roku box? Anyone know?
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post #12 of 22 Old 08-16-2010, 12:51 PM
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Anyone have any input on how the roku's deal with bandwidth? I read in a blog at Netflix that the hardware streamers check your internet speed at the start of streaming and then pick a stream that allows for 40% overhead in your network to account for changes in speed/other things on the network using internet access, etc.

I have a very consistent 3.15Mbps connection such that HD videos streamed via the computer (Silverlight) will jump up to the 2,600 Kbps stream and stay there through the show. However, if the info on the blog is correct, the Roku unit would never go above the 1,500 Kbps SD stream because it does not allow for the 40% overhead (my internet stream would have to be above 3,600Kbps.)

I'm thinking about getting a roku player as using Play On is just annoying. Any comments?

-Suntan
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post #13 of 22 Old 08-16-2010, 01:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Irishdoom View Post

Can you stream content from a NAS or other media server with the Roku box? Anyone know?

You can, but it's extremely limited and not very user-friendly.
  • File container and codec support is limited to essentially mp4 and h.264, with fairly restrictive settings.
  • Streaming from NAS or other networked source requires a server to serve up the content. There is no uPnP/DLNA support.
  • The HD-XR model has a USB port that will play local content without the need for a server, but support for USB HDD's is hit-or-miss. USB flash drives generally work better. The HD and SD models do NOT have a USB port.
  • Playback through the USB port requires a "private" channel (i.e., one not available in their Channel Store), which requires you to add the channel through a web interface, rather than on-screen on your TV. It sounds like a hassle, but it's really fairly easy to do. You just have to know about the channel and what "code" to enter, which you can find on their forums.
Bottom line: the Roku is a great, inexpensive Netflix/AmazonVOD and general internet streamer, but definitely not a contender in the local streaming market.
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post #14 of 22 Old 08-16-2010, 01:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suntan View Post

Anyone have any input on how the roku's deal with bandwidth? I read in a blog at Netflix that the hardware streamers check your internet speed at the start of streaming and then pick a stream that allows for 40% overhead in your network to account for changes in speed/other things on the network using internet access, etc.

I have a very consistent 3.15Mbps connection such that HD videos streamed via the computer (Silverlight) will jump up to the 2,600 Kbps stream and stay there through the show. However, if the info on the blog is correct, the Roku unit would never go above the 1,500 Kbps SD stream because it does not allow for the 40% overhead (my internet stream would have to be above 3,600Kbps.)

I'm thinking about getting a roku player as using Play On is just annoying. Any comments?

-Suntan

I've never heard anyone from Roku mention the 40% overhead you reference, but here is some general information on how the box handles bandwidth calculation, from one of Roku's QA engineers:

Quote:
Originally Posted by RokuTaylor from the Roku Forums View Post

2) The box does calculate bandwidth during the boot sequence, but it's only as accurate as the test. When you stream form Amazon or Netflix the data comes form different CDN servers and the performance can be different. Therefore it's possible to experience a rebuffer if the actual doesn't match the test. But you should only experience 1 rebuffer at most, and lower speed broadband connections or if your WiFi connection is below "good."
If you have 4.5Mbps broadband service or higher, no streams we have yet exceed that rate and you should never have an issue due to bandwidth (unless of course there is some kind of networking disruption.)
3) Stream performance is also constantly being calculated while you're streaming a movie. It uses a weighted average of the last xMB of data download (between 2 - 5mins of streaming depending on the stream speed.) There are additional complex factors that also go in to stream choice such as analysis of the stream headers prior to streaming to make sure your bandwidth can handle it.
4) Each time you STOP, then re-start a stream, the player will choose the stream based on the history of the last few minutes of streaming prior to that.

So the basic explanation is that there is a stream speed test during boot. But after that it's always based on the last 2-5 minutes of streaming history.

This information is from a post on the Roku forums. I'd include a link, but apparently I need 3 posts before I'm allowed to do that here. If you want to find the post for yourself, along with other general information on bandwidth issues on the Roku, I'd suggest going to their forums and doing a search for posts by RokuTaylor containing "bandwidth".
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post #15 of 22 Old 08-16-2010, 03:04 PM - Thread Starter
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I wish they had the iPhone option like Play On where I could watch roku programming via a web URL in Safari
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post #16 of 22 Old 08-16-2010, 03:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suntan View Post

Anyone have any input on how the roku's deal with bandwidth? I read in a blog at Netflix that the hardware streamers check your internet speed at the start of streaming and then pick a stream that allows for 40% overhead in your network to account for changes in speed/other things on the network using internet access, etc.

I have a very consistent 3.15Mbps connection such that HD videos streamed via the computer (Silverlight) will jump up to the 2,600 Kbps stream and stay there through the show. However, if the info on the blog is correct, the Roku unit would never go above the 1,500 Kbps SD stream because it does not allow for the 40% overhead (my internet stream would have to be above 3,600Kbps.)

I'm thinking about getting a roku player as using Play On is just annoying. Any comments?

-Suntan

If your Roku picks a lower stream, you can force a stream that is closer to your connection speed.
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post #17 of 22 Old 08-16-2010, 03:28 PM
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How? owned a roku since day 1. never seen that feature?

Sean
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post #18 of 22 Old 08-17-2010, 06:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sean_w_smith View Post

How? owned a roku since day 1. never seen that feature?

Sean

From your Roku remote, hit: [HOME]x5, [REW]x3, [FF]x2

This will bring up a screen where you can force it to use a specific bitrate stream. You'll generally run into less buffering problems and have a better overall experience if you just let it auto-select the stream, though.

Note that it's REW/FF, and not LEFT/RIGHT. You may have to try a few times to get the timing right -- it can be a little sensitive.
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post #19 of 22 Old 08-18-2010, 05:56 AM
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OK, good to know that the player monitors and picks the stream size on the fly. The blog I was referencing was from '08 and it wasn't clear if the 40% overhead requirement was for the roku players or not.

Anyway, one more question. Any chance that the Roku will output audio via the HDMI port *and* the analog 2 ch RCA connectors at the same time?

-Suntan
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post #20 of 22 Old 08-18-2010, 06:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suntan View Post

OK, good to know that the player monitors and picks the stream size on the fly. The blog I was referencing was from ’08 and it wasn’t clear if the 40% overhead requirement was for the roku players or not.

Yeah, I've never heard of the 40% overhead requirement. Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean it's not true just because I haven't heard of it. ;-)

FYI - Just to be clear, the Roku does pick the stream on the fly, and will drop down (and rebuffer) to a lower bitrate stream if your connection slows, but it will NOT rebuffer up to a higher bitrate stream if your connection improves unless you force a rebuffer by stopping and restarting the stream. The only exception to this are the "live" streams that use HLS (Http Live Streaming) like MLB.tv, which are more adaptive bitrate streams and are constantly changing to fit your current bandwidth.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Suntan View Post

Anyway, one more question. Any chance that the Roku will output audio via the HDMI port *and* the analog 2 ch RCA connectors at the same time?

Yes, it will output audio through both at the same time.
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post #21 of 22 Old 08-18-2010, 08:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hps70w View Post

From your Roku remote, hit: [HOME]x5, [REW]x3, [FF]x2

This will bring up a screen where you can force it to use a specific bitrate stream. You'll generally run into less buffering problems and have a better overall experience if you just let it auto-select the stream, though.

Note that it's REW/FF, and not LEFT/RIGHT. You may have to try a few times to get the timing right -- it can be a little sensitive.

I have mine set to a level up from what the Roku wants to assign and I never have any buffer issues during a show. The longer buffer time at the start is less than a minute longer.
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post #22 of 22 Old 08-18-2010, 09:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by APorter View Post

I have mine set to a level up from what the Roku wants to assign and I never have any buffer issues during a show. The longer buffer time at the start is less than a minute longer.

You must have a fairly consistent connection then. I generally recommend people just let it auto-select the stream so they don't go crazy and try to force it beyond what their connection can consistently and reliable sustain. Otherwise, I just end up getting more questions about why the stream buffers more frequently.
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