How to Navigate the Deluge of Netflix Streaming Devices

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PlayOn Software

Price: $40

Web content: Netflix, Amazon Video On Demand, Hulu, more

A less elegant but more affordable way to bring Netflix to your television is to use PlayOn software from Media Mall technologies. PlayOn lets you stream Netflix, Amazon Video On Demand, YouTube, Hulu, and other video to your PC and then display it on your television via a Wi-Fi or ethernet connection.

Supported devices include the Xbox 360 (no Xbox Live subscription required), PlayStation 3, Wii, Moxi HD DVR, HP MediaSmart TV, Netgear Digital Entertainer Live EVA2000, and Western Digital TV Live.

Play On is free to try for 14 days; after that you have to pay a one-time licensing fee of $40. Be advised that Media Mall says it gives refunds for Play On software purchases only in exceptional circumstances, so you're better off trying out the software first to make sure that it works on your device.

Roku Digital Video Player

Price: Roku SD $80, Roku HD $100, Roku HD-XR $130

Netflix selection: Instant Queue

Web content: Netflix, Amazon Video On Demand, MLB.TV, Flickr, Facebook photos, Pandora,, Mediafly

Network connection: Ethernet, Wi-Fi

Video outputs: Component, composite, HDMI, S-Video

If you want the original Netflix set-top box, you can choose from three models, including two high-definition devices. The differences among the three versions--the Roku SD, HD, and HD-XR--come down to the picture and wireless-signal quality. The Roku SD gives you standard definition and 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi, while the Roku HD adds an HDMI connection and high-def playback. Roku's top-of-the-line model, the Roku HD-XR, is similar to the Roku HD but uses the latest Wi-Fi standard (802.11n) for improved wireless streaming, especially on HD video.


Price: TiVo HD $250, TiVo HD-XL $500, TiVo Series3 prices vary

Netflix selection: Instant Queue

Web content: Blockbuster, Amazon Video On Demand, Walt Disney Studios, Jaman, YouTube, Music Choice, more

Connection: Ethernet (Wi-Fi adapters available)

Video outputs: Component, composite, HDMI, S-Video

TiVo offers Netflix on its TiVo HD, HD-XL, and TiVo Series3 DVRs. Other Internet services available on your TiVo DVR include Blockbuster and Amazon Video On Demand, Walt Disney Studios movie rentals, international films via Jaman, YouTube, Music Choice, Fandango movie ticketing and previews, One True Media video sharing, and TiVo's own Web-video search. You can also use your TiVo box to listen to podcasts, view photos from your computer, or enjoy pictures on online services such as Photobucket and Picasa.

Insignia Blu-ray Players

Price: NS-WBRDVD $180, NS-BRDVD3 $100

Netflix selection: Full streaming library, Instant Queue

Web content: Netflix

Network connection: Ethernet, Wi-Fi (NS-WBRDVD only)

Video output: Component, composite, HDMI

The Insignia NS-WBRDVD offers Netflix streaming and BD-Live features using 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi connectivity. We gave it an overall rating of 3 stars after evaluating its performance, features, and design. Though we liked the Blu-ray player's low price, Wi-Fi connection, and startup time, we also thought that it was a little noisy; the first-time setup for the player's Wi-Fi connection seemed difficult, too.

Insignia also offers the less costly NS-BRDVD3 for Netflix streaming.

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