Streaming Netflix

stir_fryiJanuary 19, 2011

Just so I am ready for the future, can someone explain what I will need to this (someday).

Right now I have a desktop PC directory wired to the cable modem. Will I need to have a wireless router? Is there a special DVD player needed?

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I'm going to assume that you want to watch Netflix movies on your television. You need to find some way to connect your TV to the Internet. Some current televisions actually have the necessary hardware/software built right in, it's little more than connecting the television. If you don't have that kind of TV (or don't want to buy one) then you need some kind of device and there are plenty of options -- Apple TV, Roku, Boxee, Logitech's Revue, TiVo, or you can use a PC (although that's a bit more complicated).

You will also need a router. I'd suggest a hardwired connection because speeds tend to be better and there's no issues with interference from other devices but wireless will work as well.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2011 at 1:06PM
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We got a new Samsung $185 Blu-ray player last year, and it's wired for the internet. We only have DSL here in the boonies, and have a wireless router. Love the Netflix streaming!

    Bookmark   January 19, 2011 at 1:34PM
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Several gaming devices support Netflix. We use Wii.

We have an HDMI, I think it's called, from a PC to the TV. I believe that with this arrangement we can watch from but I don't recall having tested this.

There are some forums like Netflix Movie Fans. I don't know if this is any help or not. Hacking NetFlix has general and business information on streaming and occasionally discusses hardware specifics.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2011 at 2:11PM
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I forgot completely about game consoles and Blu Ray players. Many are also capable of receiving (and playing) streaming content.

It all depends on what you want and your budget.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2011 at 4:58PM
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I use my PS3!

    Bookmark   January 20, 2011 at 4:43PM
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Pooh Bear

There is a set top box called Roku for watching Netflix streaming movies. Cost is about $100. I use a computer that has an S-video out port. I run an S-video cable and speaker out cables to an RF modulator and then to the TV.
I can also use this setup to watch on the TV any video that I could watch on the computer. Works great.

Pooh Bear

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 12:44AM
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Since streaming Netflix users are likely to be reading this, my questions is: How much bandwidth is enough for this application? I know more is always better but assuming no other bandwidth is being used, what is the minimum I should have?

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 5:19AM
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I checked and we can watch Netflix using an HDMI cable from our relatively new eMachine to the TV. An HDMI cable from a two year old HP laptop to the TV will not work.

Using the computer and the cable is somewhat better than the Wii because we can get to all the search and history features of more easily.

As to bandwidth we are using AT&Ts least expensive DSL. Don't know how to find any more details.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 10:03AM
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I think they recommend 5mbps for HD streaming.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 10:39AM
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My cable connection is 3Mbps. My Samsung DVD player with Netflicks streaming is currently connected to my router via an EoP adapter (ethernet over powerline), so I'm sure it doesn't get the full 3Mbps (but close), and I can stream non-HD nicely enough.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 3:41PM
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We have an older Sony CRT with no HDMI cables. I have a Zoom brand cable modem connected, via a cable, to an Apple wireless rounter (A Base Station, they call it.) This gives us wireless internet in the house.

I have a Roku box connected to video inputs on the TV. This is the old three color system, with white red and yellow pin inputs. The cables for this were in the box with the Roku. The Roku has wireless capability so it works off of the router signal when just plugged into the TV and the power source. We do need to switch between video feeds on the TV to get to the Roku, but this is a simple matter of pressing a button on the TV remote.

If you have something like "video 1, video 2, video 3" selections and you only get a blank screen, those inputs are marked as such on the back of your TV and you can use them. If you only have one set of these, you may have to swap out the cables if your DVD player uses the inputs. This might be a good argument for getting a Netflix enabled DVD player or game console. If your DVD player is a good one and you can't see spending the money, you should consider the Roku.

The base model today is $59.99 at The website lets you see the back of the device, so you can check out the input areas to see if it matches what you have on your TV. They are very backward compatible in general, so I'm sure you won't have problems there. I bought the XD model ($79.99) for when we upgrade to a better 1080p HD in a couple years, plus it supports the wireless "N" protocall which is the newer, fastest level of wireless and it matches our router. I may have wasted $20.00 because we don't use the internet while watching the Roku and my guess is with the way HDTVs are developing, our future TV will have Netflix ability built into it and we won't need the roku box. Oh well!

All it might take for you to get up and running on DSL: call your provider company and ask them for a wireless DSL modem. You might be able to get one for free from them. This will give you wireless in the house and your Roku box will be up in a jiff. When we had DSL we had the wireless router and were happy with it. There was an initial problem with not being able to acess the internet while on the wireless phone, but that is a setting on the modem that can be changed with a quick call to your provider. It is a simple fix and they walk you through it.

As to the bandwidth issue go to and check your speed it is easy and free. You might be able to research your speed and see how this effects others with Netflix. Just a thought.

To give you courage, (if you need it!) go to Youtube and search "set up Roku on DSL," or "set up Roku." Peolpe have made some quick video's of themselves doing this and you'll see how simple it really is.

Good luck with it all! We love streaming Netflix. We still sometimes look at each other and say, "This is so awsome!"

Here is a link that might be useful: Speed test

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 10:19AM
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A spin-off observation: One of the problems has been the lack of English Subtitles with Netflix streaming.

Here: Netflix InstantWatch titles with English Subtitles "Netflix InstantWatch titles with English Subtitles (for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing)" has proven to be a good listing.

It is reported by advocates that about 28 million have some form of hearing impairment. I invite you to join me in sharing this URL and reporting on it's completeness, accuracy and currency.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 4:46PM
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Just to get back to the original question, you have what you need right now to watch Netflix on your PC, with a Netflix account of course.

To watch on your television, you can connect your PC, if it has a video output, to your television. The controls being on the PC and then setting up the resolution for TV output can get very cumbersome and aggravating. If your PC has HDMI outputs they can also be finicky due to HDCP.

That's why manufacturers began making media players (Roku, Vudu, Boxee, etc) that connect to your broadband connection and to your TV.

Your existing cable modem output needs to be "split" for lack of a better word, to feed your PC and another device such as the media player. This is done by a wired and/or wireless Router which acts as the traffic cop to direct the internet connection to and from the multiple devices.

Soon, manufacturers began building these media players into game consoles and Blu-ray DVD players since they already were utilizing an internet connection.

Next, television manufactures started building-in these same media players as internet apps into the television sets themselves. These apps can be updated through firmware upgrades (as well as on the other products) to include even more choices.

Typically, connection speeds need to be around 1.5 Mbps minimum for SD quality, 3.0 Mbps for live action events, and 5.0 Mbps or higher for HD.

The connection speed is usually detected by the provider and the stream speed and quality is dynamically controlled. This means that slower speeds can be accommodated but at a slightly lower overall quality. The stream is also buffered in memory, up to a point, to allow for fluctuations in the stream.

They are continuing to work on better compression algorithms to bring increased video/audio quality at slower speeds. An example is Netflix which originally used WMV compression, migrated to Silverlight VC1 compression which allows for the same video quality at lower Mbps.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2011 at 9:39PM
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By the way, I apologize if my late post in any way seemed to ignore the very useful and correct information from all the other posters - it certainly was not meant that way.

Also, to elaborate on the post from albert_135, people often confuse "sub-titles" with "sub-titles for the hearing impaired" aka "closed captioning".

Sub-titles in English are just a language translation for people that can hear all the ambient sounds going on in the presentation. Sub-titles for the hearing impaired, however, also contain cues to the unspoken sounds taking place such as: "phone ringing", "knock on door", "woman screaming", etc.

While not being hearing impaired myself, I certainly understand the need for the correct type of captioning, to the proper audience, and have always tried to remember that need over the years working in video engineering.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2011 at 10:44PM
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The cost of renting Netflix disks went up starting with the first billing cycle after Jan 2nd. This is widely rumored to have been in part to boost interest in streaming.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2011 at 2:32PM
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They're cancelling dvd distribution? I've not heard that--only that if you just want instant streaming, you can pay a little less.

Anyway, we used our Wii to stream netflix and love the menu on it compared to a blu-ray player with netflix that we tried (and quickly hated--it was slow and menu complicated/no search.)

But if you have the resources, I've come to the conclusion that using a dedicated home theater PC connected to your tv via HDMI is the best way to get more years out of your setup--instead of moving from device to device as the technology and programs change.

You can get wireless keyboards for them that mimic the function and size of remotes so it's just as convenient as normal TV watching. And you'll always have access to whatever internet-based service comes along in the future--don't limit yourself to Netflix.

We just did this at our house and still getting used to it, but it works flawlessly and the PC didn't cost much more than a good blu-ray player because it didn't have a bunch of junk software on it we didn't need...

Here is a link that might be useful: Our new, sorta finished internet TV set-up

    Bookmark   February 19, 2011 at 12:24PM
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We'll have DVD rentals for a while -- part of Netflix's appeal is the depth of their offerings. But they certainly benefit if they can push some of their business to streaming, and I benefit too -- it's great for episodes of TV shows watched on a whim because you don't have to plan in advance.

Just to round out the options, we run it on a tiny Lenovo S10 netbook, connected wirelessly to the 'net and to the Plasma screen via its external-monitor connector. Speeds generally measure above 10Mbps, though there are occasional rebuffering delays which make me suspect throttling by the Netflix servers.

We still use a dedicated blu-ray player for disks -- different machines for different things. I like the wireless keyboard idea, as long as whatever is running on the HTPC is robust enough to do everything you want without much extra trouble. I almost built one a couple years ago, but then wondered if I really needed yet another PC that I would have to care of (updates, virus protection...) when I could just buy a simple appliance to play disks.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2011 at 11:33PM
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