I’ve written before about Roku the Internet powered box that’s connected to my TV. I have had mixed emotions about it. Tonight, however, I’m thrilled. We’re watching the Phillies play the Braves on the big set in the family room. The picture is pretty good.
“I don’t get it,” Helaine said as I carried the little Roku box, a power cube and HDMI cable to the TV.
Roku and its brethren Boxee, Apple TV, Google TV and a few others bring programs to your TV over the Internet. Though it can be a wired connection I’m hooked up via WiFi. Unlike a broadcast tuner most of what’s available on Roku is streamed on demand.
Along with Netflix and Hulu Plus there are a few dozen “networks” making mainly niche programming available. More important are the sports: basketball, hockey, baseball and a few others. They’re subscription services, but if you’e into baseball (or sports not normally seen in America) Roku brings you every game.
Over-the-air TV or even standard cable or satellite TV is broadcast one-to-many. Internet TV is one-to-one. There’s just not as much bandwidth available. Most of the time that difference isn’t very noticeable, but when there’s fast motion or action the screen becomes pixelated and a little muddy.
Because this video is being delivered over the Internet bottlenecks along the way may slow or stop some packets. We’ve already seen that manifested a few times tonight as our screen went to a solid color and a caching progress bar briefly appeared.
The bottom line is we’re watching the game in the comfort of the family room on the biggest set in the house. Pretty cool.