I've been told by my son-in-law not to waste money on one of these devices because I can just use my computer as a video streamer. What's the diff?
asked by kellyjp on October 29, 2012
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Showing 1-10 of 18 answers
He's right to a point. It depends on the type of computer and TV you have. For example, many laptops have a port that allow you to connect a special cable to your TV in order to stream stuff from the internet. Some laptops have an HDMI port, mini display port, etc. You just have to buy the right cable that will hook up to your TV. If your TV is newer, this will be easier. If it's older, it may get trickier. Also, using your laptop to stream works well if your computer is able to handle being the "middle man." Some cannot take it, and the fan will struggle to keep things cool. Some people prefer to use a Roku or Apple TV device to stream so that they won't have to use their computer, especially if it's older and cannot handle it. Some people prefer to have a dedicated streaming player attached to their TV instead of plugging in and unplugging their laptop all the time just to stream to their TV. If you're able to use your computer to stream, go for it. It's cheaper to buy a connecting cable and try it before you spend extra on a separate streaming player. Hope this helps.
annieo answered on October 31, 2012
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The difference is this small box connects to your TV. To use it you just change your input and you are ready to go, just scroll thru the channels. With a computer you either watch on your computer monitor or connect your computer to your TV. I've done both, the Roku is much easier to use. The computer you have to boot up, open the application, maybe browse to an Internet site, etc.
clymerclan answered on November 18, 2012
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Don't take his advice. I'm a very techie person and would NOT tell you to use your computer over one of these. This is simple plug & play. Why mess with having to hook up your computer to your TV every time you want to watch something? Bad advice on his part IMHO.
J. Nichols answered on December 17, 2012
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To use Amazon Prime hi-def, you have to have a device like this, either a supported TV, Bluray, Roku, AppleTV etc. **High definition** movies from Amazon Prime will not stream via computer. SHAME on Amazon, but it is what it is. You can stream low-def Amazon Prime movies via computer, but of course, the quality isn't as good. We have a dedicated computer hooked directly up to our TV via HDMI port and it works great. However, the other thing that the Roku offers is easy integration of channels. We can see the amazing array of (mostly free) channels (LOL) that we've subscribed to via an easy remote control based interface. With the PC we have to use a mouse and keyboard which is a bit klunky, and we have to bookmark sites and move around the net that way to see our channels. When our Amazon Prime expires or when Amazon allows us to stream HD via PC, the Roku will be a luxury. But for now, it's part-necessity, part-luxury. The purple Roku doesn't stream hi def movies anyway. You need one of the higher end devices. We have the XS, the only model with an ethernet port for a wired connection. We use ethernet because it's much faster and more reliable for streaming movies than wireless internet.
Teresa answered on December 17, 2012
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I would not wear out a $500 lap top when I can wear out a $ 50 device that I can return if it does not work out.
robert nixon answered on January 2, 2013
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I wondered the same thing. It took me a month to figure out- and then believe it's really that simple- that YES, I can simply connect my high-end laptop to my mid-range flat screen TV, by HDMI to HDMI ports on each device, and stream anything I could get on my laptop, directly onto my flatscreen TV... But, why on earth WOULD I WANT TO? YES- You CAN do it, but why bother? If you do use your PC as a live stream (to TV) device, then every time you want to watch live-stream TV (vs. cable TV), you have to remove your laptop from it's current location (ie, maybe you were using it earlier,
Anonomous answered on December 17, 2012
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You can use your computer as a video streamer, connected either through an HDMI or VGA port on the TV. My MacBook works much better than my old PC for streaming. We added the Roku just to make it easier. However, it may not provide as much access to streaming as the computer does.
rayp answered on December 11, 2012
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Your son is wrong. I stream programs through my computer that are not available through devices such as ROKU. Example, HGTV, ABC family channel, many others. It's more cumbersome, and you can not use your computer for anything else while streaming through the computer. These devices =such as Roku, do not tie up your computer. My wife can use the computer while I stream movies through ROKU. Since Roku is both wired/wireless, you can watch it from any room. for $ 49, it's a no brainer.
P. Stein answered on December 17, 2012
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The Roku is so much easier to use than a computer, unless you can spare a computer to put next to your TV and the computer has a remote control. You really don't want to run a wire across the room from your computer to your TV. I tried it. It's a pain, and can be techically compicated. Plus, the video quality wasn't so good over the composite video connection I set up. There are units that will wirelessly send HD content from your computer to your TV, but the cost likely will be 5-10 times the cost of a Roku.
Jeff B. answered on February 12, 2013
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Depends on your setup overall, and how techinically inclined you are. I have two HTPCs (Home Theater PC) which is essentially what your son-in-law is suggesting, and I have to say they aren't for everyone. For starters, there's not a lot of money in targeting HTPC owners, so much of the software requires manual configuration and a lot of searching to find the right solutions (currently XBMC seems to be the best supported). There's also all the fun things people love about PCs: crashing, driver conflicts, etc. The best overally media device I've found is the PS3, it works exactly as it should for all the different formats (blu-ray 3d on a PC is such a pain, almost all the software is garbage).

If you're just looking for streaming, then either a device like this or a blu-ray player with built-in wifi is probably your best solution. They're fairly stable enviornments so they tend to have less user configuration involved. It comes down to size and cost as well; nobody can say for certain what works best for your situation, but I personally prefer the dedicated devices over a PC; plus if you don't do a PC right it just looks sloppy connecting a laptop or something to a TV, is that something you really prefer to see when you have guests over? Or something small and hidden? Some people might not care, but I know many others do.
P. Killion answered on December 17, 2012
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