Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.

Theodore Roosevelt, The Strenuous Life

By , on January 16, 2011

Miscellaneous Comment

Roku Player with Remote Control. Nickel added for scale. Signal input is wireless. One cable is power and the other is HDMI output to television. Photo by author. Please give credit to lawyermusings.com if you use this image.

My nephew from Portland, Oregon (Andrew) was one of several visitors at Thanksgiving last year. We were all sitting in the living room, which at the time was equipped with an analog flat screen Sony television, when I inquired as to his recommendations for a new television. Then I asked him about Netflix streaming. I followed his recommendations, and have been ecstatic with the outcome.

Here is the advice he gave us:

  • Buy a LCD/LED television without any special streaming technology. Things are changing too fast to tie yourself to a particular streaming technology built into the television.
  • Buy a 30 to 45 inch television based on the size of the room we use for viewing. We bought a 37 inch set, which seems as near to perfect as I can imagine.
  • The set must be 1080p capable with HDMI inputs. We have three HDMI inputs.
  • Buy a Roku player with Wi-Fi capability, which is the mid-grade device.

The purchases Andrew recommended were our Christmas gifts to ourselves. The Roku gives us our only high definition video, and it is great. We stream a lot of Netflix content, but it is a bit addictive.  On the television end of things, I connected our cable directly to the television, and eliminated the cable converter box. The television decodes both analog and digital signals, so I receive just about everything I did before, however, we have lost the cool Comcast television guide and On Demand. We seldom used On Demand; the free stuff was generally awful and we are too cheap to pay Comcast even more for movies. Netflix and Red Box get our movie dollars.

Andrew recommended using the HDMI cable for the Roku connection. I ordered it from Amazon with the player. Unfortunately, we had to view the content from Roku using RCA cables for about two weeks while we waited for the HDMI cable. But the wait was worth it. The video is excellent. Also, the Roku set-up was reasonably easy, although a fair bit of typing is required using a televison displayed keyboard. You scroll to each letter and press enter. Programming should be done only if you have enough free time so that you are not glancing at the clock every few minutes. You should make sure you have your user identification and passwords for the content Roku offers: Netflix, Pandora, Amazon, Hulu, etc.

Several features are impressive. The Roku box is tiny and fits beneath your television screen. You will not need a separate shelf for this component, nor will you need a long HDMI cable. The audio quality, which is input into my television but is amplified by my sound system, is excellent. I think the sound quality exceeds that of my old compact discs; I have listened to some of the same music on each. The free version of Pandora is excellent and has a five star rating to prove it. Unlike Pandora on your computer, there is no advertising, nor does it demand a user input to continue playing music. We have had hours of fun with it, too.

I want two more items of content from Roku. The PBS Newshour and NPR’s CarTalk. Then we’re cooking.

At $79 for the Roku player, you will have a lot of fun at a modest expense.

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