Once upon a time I bought a desktop and kept upstairs hooked to our bedroom television.  I got it mostly to rip home movies from DVD to my iPod without bogging down my main computer.  Ripping DVDs to iPods was very time consuming and didn’t work and every DVD, so it was hit or miss if I could even do it.  This worked for a quite a long time, until something called streaming came to be.  Once Netflix started streaming movies over the internet, this just became a big time waster.  So the upstairs desktop computer became a big media streamer, but alas being a computer, especially Windows, it meant lots and lots of maintenance.

One day a friend of ours asked us about media streaming devices, and I did some research and found the Roku.  For the amount of money they Roku delivers the most over Apple TV and even the Sony media streamer.  Now if you want to still play DVDs or Bluray many of those players also come with the ability to stream Netflix, as well as many gaming console.  But what sets the Roku apart from there is that it doesn’t just do Netflix.  The Roku has many different channels that you can get, one of which is Netflix.  Some of these channels, such as HBO Go and Hulu Plus you will need an account with those to sign in.  Other channels on the Roku provide free movies and content such as Crackle.  And there are yet even more channels on just about every topic you can think of.  Some of them are free, some of the require you to purchase them, and some of them require a membership like Netflix.

There are also three different models of Roku devices, ranging from $60 to $100.  Another friend of ours got us our Roku for Christmas, and it is the $100 Roku 2 XS.  All of the Roku devices come with built in wireless, and are about the size of an iPhone.  The Roku 2 XS has the best HDMI capability as well as an actual ethernet jack in the back of it.  As our router sits next to the television upstairs we opted to just plug it in.  The Roku 2 XS also has the ability to play games and comes setup with Angry Birds for free.  Because let’s face it, if it can’t play Angry Birds well then it isn’t a device worth having!

So if you are looking for a quick way to stream Netflix to your television, check your Bluray, DVD player, or gaming system to see if it can stream.  But if they do not, and you just want a simple device that does and does a whole lot more, then I would highly suggest the Roku.  It is a while internet media streaming giant, in a tiny little box.