Best Media Players for Streaming Movies

It seems that more people know about streaming Netflix, than know about what devices are needed to stream movies and TV shows from the online service.  Perhaps that is why media players are one of the best gifts to get friends and family who know they want to stream movies and TV shows, but don’t know how to do it. Here are a few media players that are easy to use and make great gifts for people that aren’t tech savvy. They may need help setting it up, but your 80-year-old mother will turn into a streaming demon with these players.  If you are the one who has trouble understanding tech, you might think of getting one for yourself.

Roku Box The Roku Box is a classic.  Its remote has only a home button, playback buttons and a return-to-previous menu so there aren’t a lot of extra buttons to confuse a novice user. Although there are no buttons to directly open Netflix, the app is displayed right away on the home menu. Menus are laid out in grid displays. All channels (apps) use the same kind of navigation so you don’t have to learn different ways to choose videos on each app. All models of Roku Boxes are easy to use. The Roku 3 is perfect to give to your parents for their bedroom TV, as the remote has a headphone connection and will mute the TV so one person can watch without the sound disturbing the other.

D-Link MovieNite Plus (DSM-312) When I first connected the MovieNite, it was clear that even the tech novices in my household could pick up the remote and immediately start watching movies. The MovieNite has buttons on the remote to directly launch Netflix, Vudu, Pandora or YouTube, with few buttons to confuse the user. Grid displays are straightforward and simple to navigate.

NETGEAR NeoTV300 - The NeoTV300 has six direct buttons on its remote: Netflix, Vudu, Hulu Plus, Cinema Now, YouTube and Pandora. The NeoTV has the added benefit of turning your TV into a wireless monitor for your laptop PC running Windows 7. It uses WiDi technology that is as easy as clicking on the app on the PC to send the mirrored desktop to the TV (initial setup may be tricky and require a more tech savvy family member).  NETGEAR does an excellent job of streaming photos, music and movies from your computers or network attached server drives (NAS drives) to the NeoTV.

WDTV Play- The WDTV Play has a clean menu and a simple remote control with direct buttons to open Vudu, Netflix and Hulu. The WDTV remote app for Android and iPhones has icons for each app to directly open it without having to use the remote and navigate on the TV screen. Simply scroll to the Hulu Plus app on your smartphone WDTV remote app and it launches on the TV. Of course, there are many other devices that can stream Netflix and other movies and TV shows from online. Smart TVs, Blu-ray players, Google TVs, or a Chromecast dongle, are just a few examples. Still, when buying a gift for someone who is nervous about using technology, is easily confused, or otherwise a novice, these players may be the best option to avoid a daily call asking, “Tell me again. How do I start Netflix?” and have them thanking you for making it possible to stream all of their favorite holiday movies.

Barb Gonzalez ~ The Simple Tech Guru

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