Bought a Roku 2 XS Finally

So I don’t know if my readers remembered or not, but we cut back on Dish Network to only minimal channels and receiver only in the main living room to save money.  We then installed Roku XDS boxes in the other rooms so that our kids can watch Netflix, Hulu+, Amazon Prime free video’s and save the money from paying for extra receiver feeds.  It has worked out stupendously, we even use a Roku XDS in our property in CA where I have no live TV at all and no cable or satellite bill (only Broadband).

Well the kids had been making do with just a DVD player in their bedroom, so I decided to pick up a Roku 2 XS since I had some Amazon credit and wanted more options for shows so they could watch Nature, Discovery shows and such while they were in bed time mode.

The Roku 2 XS is the first Roku 2 model I bought and the main reason I chose the Roku 2 XS is the fact that it supports USB as the other models don’t, and I have tons of TV shows on DVD that were bought and I can rip to USB video files to play on the Roku 2 XS.

It also has the motion controller and comes with Angry Birds which the kids were excited about as having that as an extra option.  The Roku XS had some reports of sluggishness, out of memory issues but I didn’t experience any of those things setting it up in my kids bedroom (this is the 3rd Roku now in this house, the 4th one I have bought in the past 2 years).


I have been very happy with the Roku company and it’s devices over the years, I am just wishing that more channels with live News (CNN local) would be available, and actually I have more beef with Netflix not adding new content frequently enough than with anything else.

-Justin Germino

No Netflix Facebook App in US

Netflix unfortunately finds itself in a tough spot trying to get support for allowing their Facebook app in the United States which would allow members to share their recently played movie history to their Facebook timelines.  This app is available in the U.K. and some other countries but is blocked in the U.S. as a result of the 1988 Video Privacy Protection Act which prohibits the storage and sharing of video rental history.

Mashable covered this story previously but I hadn’t actually known about it until I read a CNN article where Netflix had to pay a fine related to not purging former members video history which is required by the same act.

With nearly every other entertainment platform allowing you to share your interests, listens with friends and family should Netflix be excluded from this option?

I think congress should pass a bill to allow for opt-in sharing subscriptions, simply offering a “watch and share” button as was mentioned in the Mashable article seems like a perfectly good solution because it is basically putting the rights in the hands of the member and they can choose not to share, and/or remove it from their timeline at any time. 

What do you think about sharing your recent movie history from Netflix in a timeline on Facebook?

In my case, this would be useless because my kids pretty much just watch Disney, Nickelodeon shows on my Netflix membership so I would look like a kid using Netflix Smile

-Justin Germino

Saving Money by Cutting the Cable or Satellite Bill

I just couldn’t justify paying nearly $100 per month for satellite TV service to 3 TV’s in my house anymore so I was looking for a better and alternative way to still get to watch a ton of content (Movies and TV Shows) while reducing my overall monthly expenses.

I had already owned 2 Roku XDS boxes, and had the Netflix service but I found if I added Hulu+ as well then I had access to much more immediate TV Shows and Seasons than you could find on Netflix.  So here is how I worked my plan.

I stripped out almost my entire TV package down to only my bare minimum channels, and removed service from 2 of the 3 TV’s in my house.  I now use Netflix / Hulu Plus only for the Kid’s television and they can get all the kid’s shows and movies they want and aren’t affected much.  With Hulu Plus channel coming to the Nintendo Wii soon they can even get easier access to the Hulu Plus TV shows as well.

So, with Netflix and Hulu Plus I am paying about $19 per month or so for those two services, but I also reduced my satellite bill by over $60 by reducing the number of streams and channel packages.  This gave me a net savings of about $40 every month just by making this arrangement.

I did find that I couldn’t replace satellite completely, the lack of LIVE TV on Roku makes it impossible for CNN junkies like my wife and I to watch real time news if I were to cut my satellite completely.  But I was able to save quite a bit and every little bit helps.

So live news and local channels (I can’t pick anything up with HD Antenna for some reason) are the only reason I really am keeping a Satellite TV subscription at this time.

-Justin Germino

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Finding Some New Content with Roku and Netflix

I must say that the Netflix streaming is pretty awesome and combined with my Roku box I am able to find content for my family that I would never have even thought to look for. For instance, the other night my kids and I found the Dragon Hunters European cartoon which was based on the French 3D animated film. It reminded me of Dave the Barbarian a little bit, but slightly more serious and my kids and I enjoyed watching the first few episodes.

The real treasure was when I stumbled across Jim Henson’s The Storyteller last week, it was like a Jim Henson version of Tales from the Crypt with stories/fables using puppets as creatures. So reminded me of the movie Labyrinth and I forgot just how much I liked Jim Henson related material. Unfortunately there were only 8 or 9 episodes made, but the story teller himself is real convincing and it feels like you are watching a Dungeon Master weave an RPG story before your eyes in some of the tales. Of course the puppets are cheesy by today’s standards, but the 1987 series is still quite a bit of fun to watch.

I have seen a ton of more Japanese Anime content hit Netflix as of late and in fact, so much of it I hadn’t heard of before. There really is far more shows and content to watch than I could ever have time for, but hey when I have down time and all my TV shows are in re-runs, Netflix and Roku will never leave me thinking there is nothing to watch, there is always something to find and watch.

I did a review on the Roku XDS and how to find private roku channels on my technology blog for those who are thinking about picking one up.

-Justin Germino

Finally Left Blockbuster for Netflix

I had been a Blockbuster Total Access subscriber for over two years and had their highest end 3 at a time with unlimited trade in plan.  I was happy with their mail order DVD service and loved trading in the movies when I was done with them for a new DVD on the same day, yet I finally had to make the switch to Netflix for one simple reason.

When it comes to streaming instant movies to your TV, PC or Game Console Netflix blows the competition away.  Blockbuster doesn’t even offer free streaming and charges a rental fee for their “On Demand” movies which is just pointless and only further prevents them from competing with Netflix.

I myself have a Nintendo Wii and five minutes after signing up for Netflix I downloaded the Netflix App from the Wii Shop Channel, hooked it up to my Netflix account and was busy streaming live SpongeBob season episodes for my kids within 10 minutes.

Now I can have my kids instantly watch classic films like Tron, Clash of the Titans (the original) and some old Jackie Chan flicks without having to wait for them to arrive in the mail (my local Blockbuster store had a limited selection of movies and only one copy which was usually rented out of some older titles).

The funny thing is Netflix gives you DVD’s by mail and Instant Streaming movies for less per month than Blockbuster Total Access.  I am getting 2 dvd movies at a time plus streaming movies for $14.99 per month.  Blockbuster Total Access will charge you over $20 for 2 movies at a time plus unlimited in-store trades and $16.99 for 2 movies at a time with 5 in store trades per month, this is all with no streaming video.

It is ironic that someone who is as into movies and TV Shows as myself has taken so long to jump on board with Netflix, but now I can tell you my household is Netflix enabled and I don’t intend to look back.  I also did this and wound up saving $7 per month over staying with Blockbuster Total Access, so I have live streaming content and pay less per month than I was paying.

One thing, it does seem that Blockbuster Online had a slightly better movie search listing as you can sort movies by # per page, but Netflix claims to have a much larger selection.  I also see that Blockbuster also has some deals with movie studio’s and sometimes gets some movies 30 days before Netflix or Redbox but if it was a movie you wanted to see that badly, chances are you already saw it in theaters or would just buy it.

Blockbuster Total Access does offer Console Game rentals now at no extra cost which does actually give it a slight edge of Netflix, as I am using Gamefly + Netflix to cover my Game and DVD rentals.  With Blockbuster offering game console rentals, you can actually use just a Blockbuster Total Access membership for movies plus games which could save you money if you are using Gamefly.  I do love Gamefly and was using them before Blockbuster Total Access offered game rentals, and still was using them even after Blockbuster offered game rentals.

Who else is on board with Netflix and who has yet to try this service that gives you thousands of movies on demand so you don’t have to wait for one to arrive in the mail or drive out to your local video store anymore?

-Justin Germino