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How Can I Stream Movies from the Internet to My TV?

March 20, 2009

in computer hardware,photos and video

by Gabe Goldberg

If you like movies but don’t enjoy being glued to your PC while they stream from the Internet, or you prefer to watch them on your GIANT TV, get ready to spend a little money to have a lot of fun.

Roku, a small electronic gadget that’s been available for about a year, has learned new tricks. Its concept is as simple as can be: connect to a TV and a broadband Internet router, link to a Netflix (rental movie service) or Amazon Video on Demand (new movie rental/purchase service), and stream requested movies.

Its beauty is in its simple setup and operation. Using the well-guided “Getting Started” folder it took about five minutes to connect power and television cables, register with the Roku server, enter my wireless network’s security information (it also supports Ethernet connection to router), link the box to my Netflix account, and start watching my first movie.



Amazon and Netflix support other devices such as TiVo, PC, Mac and XBox, with more to come. Based on my more than 400-title Netflix queue (movies I’d like to watch), about 25 percent of that collection is available for instant viewing (click Watch Instantly”). Amazon titles can be browsed by category on the TV screen or chosen online and then watched on TV.

Up to six devices of all types can be linked to Netflix/Amazon accounts; while component cables are provided, it supports (and ranks) all connection protocols from composite (worst) to HDMI (best). Simultaneous viewing is possible if there’s adequate Internet bandwidth.

There are a few limitations: only movies on a primary Netflix queue can be streamed via Internet; secondary queue movies presently can’t be. In a similar fashion, only one Amazon account at a time can be linked to a Roku. The box can be moved between/among accounts but that’s a bit tedious. Perhaps Roku will lead to family collaboration on selections and joint viewing!

Gabe Goldberg (, a lifelong computer pro and technology communicator, has written three books and hundreds of articles for audiences including techies, baby boomers and senior citizens. He enjoys sharing tips and pointers that help people use and have fun with technology.