It seems like Netflix has been cramming its streaming video software into every device possible as of late. (I’m waiting to hear about a refrigerator with built-in Netflix streaming) One of the easiest ways for some time has been via the Roku box, but even that had its drawbacks.
While the Roku is insanely easy to set up, adding content to your Netflix account to watch on the set top box was a bit problematic. You had to go to your computer to log in to your Netflix account, add the items you wanted to watch to your queue and then they would show up on the Roku. This has been how all Netflix streaming solutions have worked, but with a new update to the Roku interface, all of that has changed.
The recently released update for the Netflix software has added the ability to add items to your queue directly from your television. Bringing up the system will first show you what is currently in your queue, followed by the search area, your recently viewed items and then you get into various categories.
Due to the categories being limited to 75 items each, search is probably going to be your most powerful tool in the new interface, but sadly it only currently supports an on-screen keyboard that you “type” on by using the age-old arrow system to get around and enter characters. Hopefully there will be an app for smartphones or a keyboard enhanced remote coming out some day, but until then this is serviceable enough, just a bit slow.
Overall the system is fairly speedy, but you do see an occasional delay of covers and descriptions loading as you flip around rapidly, although it is a very, very short delay and that didn’t cause enough of a problem to make it inconvenient.
As always I saw no buffering on my 8 Mbps connection hooked into my Roku via Ethernet cable, and the picture quality on an HDMI connection, while not perfect, is darn close.
Having tried Netflix streaming on the Xbox 360, the original Roku interface and the iPad, this is easily the best interface of the ones I’ve tried. Is it perfect? No, but it is as close as we’re going to get for the foreseeable future, and the enjoyability factor just jumped up by about five fold.
Current owners of the Roku are getting the free update in waves, those considering purchasing a Roku should get it with their purchases in the not too distant future. If you’re looking for a way to get Netflix on your TV, this is easily the best solution out there.