Author Topic: Purchase advice requested  (Read 2375 times)

Bill Binkelman

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Purchase advice requested
« on: June 23, 2012, 01:05:51 PM »
This is a broader question than just about computers, but it is about Wi-Fi and technology, so here goes (I also posted this at Facebook):

I have a purchase decision to make and I'd appreciate any and all opinions. Kathryn and I have the Netflix streaming option but our Samsung Blu-ray player sucks at that part (reading reviews of the player, it seems we are not alone...many folks complain about how bad it is at that function). The connection drops all the time and the player won't even recognize the wi-fi signal most of the time, even though the TV says it's connected to the Internet - go figure. So, my two options are as follows: Buy a new Blu-ray player with wi-fi built-in - looks like Panasonic or Sony are best bets and relegate the Samsung to the bedroom where all it will do is play DVDs..OR buy a Roku device and keep the Samsung where it is (living room) but use it only for DVD/Blu-ray and depend on the Roku for my streaming applications (neither the Samsung nor Roku offers YouTube, though). There is nothing wrong with the player part of the Samsung but it's stupid to keep paying Netflix for the streaming option and not be streaming anything. So, any and all opinions are welcome. I know of no one with a Roku standalone streaming device, but CNET reviews were overall positive. Would like to make a decision soon. Thanks! Oh, I will have to disconnect the Blu-ray player whenever I use the Roku because of a lack of inputs on the TV (Samsung also is known for flaky HDMI ports...I have lost 3 of my 4 HDMI ports so far and the on which works is hooked to the Blu-ray player). So, an added inconvenience will be to disconnect one device and switch the cable to another one.  OH, one more option I suppose is to buy an Wi-Fi ready TV and put the current LR TV into the bedroom. That's the most expensive option, though.
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Scott M2

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Re: Purchase advice requested
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2012, 10:11:09 AM »
A possible workaround if your player has an ethernet port (and the layout of your house supports it) is to hardwire it to your modem. I have a 100 foot CAT5 cable intricately woven from the modem in my studio, along baseboards, over a doorway down the stairwell under a hall carpet and into the livingroom. My OPPO bluray has a wireless option too - but I already had the cable in place from my pre-wireless days and wires will usually trump wireless for reliability and speed.

BTW - the OPPO was my choice because it supports surround music play from DVD-As and SACDs as well as Dolby and DTS. Bill - Diatonis in surround is a very beautiful experience.

jkn

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Re: Purchase advice requested
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2012, 10:03:52 AM »
I have a Mac Mini on my living room tv for streaming Netflix and Hulu...   wired always works better than wi-fi.  If you can manage it.. that's your best option.

Side note... the reason I like the Mac Mini (or a mini pc for that matter) over a Roku or Apple TV or similar... is it's now a full fledged computer...  I'm not limited to one method of content.  I can stream internet radio along with movies, browse youtube, or easily show the family a bunch of photos up on my flickr account or whatever...   

It's a little more expensive.. but a lot more useful.

but back to your question... in our old house we ran cat5 cable from our switch down through the floor and along the ceiling of the basement and then up through a hole near the tv.    In our new house - I had a ton of coax and cat5 cable ran thoughout the house terminating at wall plates... :-)



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mgriffin

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Re: Purchase advice requested
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2012, 10:46:29 AM »
Another vote for the Mac Mini home theater solution. It plays DVDs, any format of digital file, and all kinds of streaming. The only thing it won't play is bluray discs, but I have a player for that.
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Altus

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Re: Purchase advice requested
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2012, 03:20:44 PM »
Another option is a Sony PS3. Blu-ray, Netflix, Hulu, etc. $250.
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mgriffin

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Re: Purchase advice requested
« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2012, 03:30:58 PM »
I used a PS3 as a home theater media center until mine fried itself.
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jkn

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Re: Purchase advice requested
« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2012, 05:09:21 AM »
I hated watching blu-ray through PS3...  seemed to always be a royal pain to navigate menus (even with the dedicated remote) - and I seemed lose my place in the movies a lot.   

Totally worked until I could buy a dedicated blu-ray player though - so I'm not knocking it as an option!   A little hassle is far better than no ability to watch.  :-)

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Scott M2

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Re: Purchase advice requested
« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2012, 08:05:48 AM »
Another vote for the Mac Mini home theater solution. It plays DVDs, any format of digital file, and all kinds of streaming. The only thing it won't play is bluray discs, but I have a player for that.

Note - The current Mac Minis no longer have a DVD player, so you'd need to use an external drive.  Hmmm, maybe an external Bluray drive.
Otherwise, an earlier model, with the DVD drive, could probably be picked up used to save some $$$.

Also note - If you can't go wired, I've found that the Apple wireless base stations are more reliable at a distance and through walls and floors than my regular wireless modem alone. I can't speak for other companies' products.

Altus

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Re: Purchase advice requested
« Reply #8 on: June 28, 2012, 07:10:21 PM »
Even if you were to use an external Blu-ray unit, I'm not sure Apple supports Blu-ray playback. And the "DVD Player" software that comes with the OS is (for lack of a better word) shit.
I didn't have much luck finding any third party DVD player software either, but that was a year or two ago so things might've changed.

Mike, jkn: Sorry to hear you had a bad experience with PS3. :-\ I have the old 40 gig fatty and it's still working fine after many years.
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darkenedsoul

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Re: Purchase advice requested
« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2012, 03:00:17 AM »
I would say PS3 since if you have Amazon Prime you can watch (free and rent) movies, tv shows, etc...

Mike

jkn

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Re: Purchase advice requested
« Reply #10 on: June 29, 2012, 04:51:01 AM »
PS3 - love it - it's just not intuitive for watching movies.... we do a lot of watching a bit... rewinding... coming back to it two days later... etc...  if we were "watch the entire movie in one go" type people - it's be perfect.

Old mac mini's did not have hdmi - you have to have one heck of big clunky adapter.  (trust me I have one)

New mac mini's have hdmi.

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zzzone.net

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Re: Purchase advice requested
« Reply #11 on: July 01, 2012, 04:41:09 AM »
You may want to try replacing your wireless router.  That might help with your NetFlix connection and routers are cheap.

I have a Samsung DVD player with built-in Wi-Fi and it works fine for streaming NetFlix; I've never had a problem except when NetFlix was down itself for the player needed rebooting.

You can also use a powerline converter for your network and eliminate the need to run some ethernet cable if you want to try a wired connection for your DVD player.

http://www.newegg.com/Store/SubCategory.aspx?SubCategory=294&name=Powerline-Networking

And you can split that remaining HDMI port with another piece of gear:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&DEPA=0&Order=BESTMATCH&N=100006688&isNodeId=1&Description=hdmi+splitter&x=0&y=0

There is certainly more than one way to skin the CAT-5.

Bill Binkelman

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Re: Purchase advice requested
« Reply #12 on: July 01, 2012, 07:41:39 AM »
Thanks to everyone for their many suggestions. I am planning on staying with a wireless solution because the wireless signal is fine when my PC is in the same location as the TV so WiFi is not the issue (plus it would mean running an ethernet cable under the floor from one end of the house to the other). Since I don't game at all, the PS3 is out as it's not cost effective. I think I will go with a Roku or similar device since the Samsung blu-ray plyer is fine except for streaming. I am really looking for the lowest cost solution, so obviously buying a new computer (the mini Mac) is also out of the question. But I do appreciate every piece of feedback given here. If I had more money, I would  consider the more expensive options, trust me. And jimzzzak, yes, I am going to buy an HDMI splitter which someone suggested to me on FB as well.

Thanks, again.
May the odds be ever in your favor.