I just pre-ordered a Roku XDS

UPDATE: My review of the Roku XD|S.

For those who follow me on Twitter they know how angry I’m at Netflix and their PS3 performance: all their Netflix software streaming discs they send to be used with PS3 are dying after about 20 days of usage. The Blu-Ray on the PS3 is literally burning the discs! There is a brown circle of death around the disc after a few days of usage (and it seems to die easier if you pause a streaming movie for a few minutes, and then you come back to it). The problem is well known on the web, I’m not the only victim of this.

Instead of asking Netflix to send me a 4th disc (plus, JBQ is very protective of his rare model PS3 and doesn’t want me using it anymore), I started using our Wii. Unfortunately, I have to use the Wii via WiFi instead of the more robust ethernet, and the streaming experience is just not good (it stops streaming, and goes to the “retrieving…” screen for a whopping 5 minutes before it restarts playback). We live in a very congested WiFi area, and the router is two rooms away, which just makes WiFi flaky.

We have an XBoX360 too, but it requires an XBoX Gold yearly subscription to get access to the Netflix app — which I personally find disgusting having Microsoft milking us like this for an app Netlfix wrote for free.

So, I decided that it was time for another device, plus, I wouldn’t mind getting something out that’s more than just Netflix. Practically and realistically speaking, there are five Netflix devices to choose from: WD TV Live Plus, Roku XDS, new AppleTV, Logitech Revue GoogleTV, and Boxee Box.

I weighed in my options with each and every of these devices, also taking into account that I have a first generation AppleTV, so some functionality I don’t need duplicated:

– WD TV Live Plus
Pros: The device with the best format support for local files. Youtube.
Cons: No Hulu Plus, no uPnP, expensive since you also need to buy an HDD with it. Mostly geared towards local files rather than services.

– AppleTV
Pros: iTunes streaming, possible app support in the future.
Cons: Everything else. Their Youtube channel is filtered to not include videos that are music videos or have commercial audio — so they can sell them via iTunes. Boooo! I don’t want to rent/pay for individual episodes/movies, I want a monthly fee, like Hulu Plus.

– Logitech Revue Google TV
Pros: Youtube channel. Hmm…
Cons: No Hulu. Expensive. Just not what I want.

– Boxee Box
Pros: Some legitimate video.
Cons: Mostly illegitimate or unlicensed video. No, thanks. Expensive.

– Roku XDS
Pros: Hulu Plus, AmazonOnDemand, Vimeo, new channels are added all the time. Cheap.
Cons: No RDIO (it has MOG instead, but I prefer RDIO), no Youtube Channel (there’s an unofficial one, but I would prefer an official one), no uPnP (although they said they will add a client for it), no good local format support (although its chipset supports a variety of formats, so it might happen in the future).

So from all these devices, the Roku XDS does it best for me so far, and it has potential for growth since things that I want, like Youtube/uPnP/formats are within their reach. The only device that could potentially do it better is a future GoogleTV device. So far, I don’t like what I see from Logitech Revue, but if Android apps and Hulu gets added in the mix, then maybe we will have something to challenge Roku. But I think we’re at least 1 year away from a good Google TV device. Until then, there’s Roku.


William Eggington wrote on October 11th, 2010 at 7:30 PM PST:

You didn’t consider a Tivo? It does HEAPS of things. We love our older Series 3. Wish we had a newer one. Kind of expensive though.

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Eugenia wrote on October 12th, 2010 at 2:59 AM PST:

No, TiVo is the wrong answer to the problem. Not only it requires a monthly subscription, but it works WITH the cable provider, while I’m trying to ditch Comcast instead. I already have a DVR with Comcast, the idea is to not have to record anything, but have OnDemand everything, at any time. So what I need is a box that provides me with modern services, not something that simply betters the old way of doing things. TiVo is going the way of the dodo I’m afraid.

The idea is to ditch the cable/satellite provider, go with Netflix and Hulu Plus, along an aerial antenna for the 5 basic channels, or get these Live channels via a future Hulu Plus “Live TV” feature. Add RDIO on top of it for streaming unlimited music, and we’re all set. No more recording, no more massive cable bills (we currently pay $90 per month for *basic* Comcast HD TV, the idea is to get it down to $20 with Netflix and HuluPlus, not add one more bill with TiVo)!

Michael C. wrote on October 12th, 2010 at 10:08 AM PST:

Panasonic DMP-BD65 Blu-ray player costs about $120, has Wi-Fi capability (though, supposedly, only with the OEM adapter), can connect to YouTube, Netflix and Amazon On Demand. It plays BD, DVD and AVCHD discs, including non-standard formats like 720p30 and 1080p60. Unlike most media players it has no problems with pulldown. Can play AVCHD from a card.

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Eugenia wrote on October 12th, 2010 at 10:32 AM PST:

I prefer a device that can be extended. Most BD players are sold as-is, with no future major updates. Besides, we use the PS3 as a BD player, which is much faster-loading than any other BD player in the market.

Erik wrote on October 12th, 2010 at 2:23 PM PST:

The PS3 is *supposed* to get discless Netflix streaming with a firmware update in the future, but they saw it more fit to add 3D BD and game support first.

Sony failing at priorities is hardly a surprise anymore, though. Though it doesn’t help SCEA fails at software development in general. No background downloads while I’m watching a DVD? Seriously? Steal some programmers from Microsoft already, guys. 😛

Yanni wrote on October 12th, 2010 at 4:55 PM PST:

Really? I’ve had the streaming disc with Netflix and PS3 for about four months and haven’t run into this problem. PS3s are notorious for over-heating so I’ve installed two cpu fans that push air through my cabinets to keep it from over-heating. That may be the trick to saving the discs.

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Eugenia wrote on October 12th, 2010 at 5:02 PM PST:

It might be the rare model PS3 model having a buggy BD drive, compared to the newest PS3 models. So it might be a hardware PS3 problem.

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