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I’ve been living with the Roku Netflix Player for a couple weeks now. The elevator pitch is that the Player lets you stream Netflix’s Watch Instantly content straight to your TV. Look for a full review in the September issue of Mac|Life, but for now, here are some Things That Rule and Things That Suck about the much-anticipated Netflix set-top box:
Rules: Because of DRM issues, and the MPAA’s hatred of people that still pay for their products, Netflix’s Watch Instantly service has been previously unavailable to Mac users. The Netflix player solves this problem, bringing streaming video straight to your TV. And you can get away from the computer screen for a while.
Sucks: Unlike the Apple TV, you can’t browse titles from your TV. In order for things to show up on your Roku box, you have to add them to a queue from a computer.
Rules: Video quality is good, and streaming movies start quickly. And you can pause/rewind/fast-forward.
Sucks: The selection of titles available via Watch Instantly is (still) a very small slice of Netflix’s DVD content (although if you’re into classic movies or indie films, you might not notice).
Rules: Set-up is a no-brainer. Go from opening the box to watching Mean Girls—er, I mean Blade Runner—from the couch in about five minutes.
Sucks: Watch Instantly content includes episodic shows that don’t offer every episode, and Netflix doesn’t indicate which series aren’t complete. You can get 4 or 5 episodes into a new show, only to discover that the next episode is available on disc only. Boo! Hiss!
Rules: Service for the Netflix Player is all-you-can-eat, and is included free in all Netflix plans $8.99 and up. Once you buy the $99 box, you’re good to go.
Sucks: Profiles cannot add items to the queue for viewing on your TV. Only the main account gets to add stuff to your Netflix Player. Will suck more after September 1, when Netflix is eliminating profiles entirely, in the name of “[improving] the Netflix website for all our customers.” Whatever, Netflix Accountant Guy.
Rules: Like traditional Netflix service, (and unlike that other TV thing…) there’ no 24-hour rental window.