I have done a signifigant amount of research on this and one thing lead to another and another and so on. My final setup on this is as follows:
Roku 2 xs~$100:
Can’t beat the price for what it can do. There a bunch of private channels you can use. Works with pretty much all the streaming services out there. Some of the channels you can use are: Crackle, Hulu Plus, Amazon, Netflix, Playon.
I already had it. I already love it. Works with most streaming services. Many of the same services as Roku which was key for me so I can have my content the same on different TVs.
Winegard Metrostart 360 HD Antenna:
Gotta have live TV. Like to watch Packer games and other things. Plus the HD quality is better than cable/satellite. Just hooked it up to the old splitter for cable and bam all my TVs now have antenna TV.
Those 3 things have brought me Video Content bliss. Now after I had all that setup what else can you do? Well looking at services lets have a see
Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon are all cool streaming services but I need to get more programming from the networks. CBS is not on Hulu Plus along with several other networks. Hulu has a bunch of programs that are not on Hulu Plus however there is no regular Hulu channel or app to add to my XBOX or ROKU. Here is where the gloriousness of Playon comes in.
Playon basically grabs video streams off websites to dump to your device. Install on a computer in your house and then your device will find your computer and give you your content! Works with my ROKU and XBOX. For a full channel list check it out: http://www.playon.tv/content-channels and at only $30 bucks for the year? Far cheaper than cable. Content is not HD, however the programming for instance from CBS is good and depends on how the website is putting the streams up. Bonus for Playon has a My Media which will play your own media files.
Playing my own media files? This got me to thinking ok, I have a cabinet full of DVDs. Rather than searching through those for a movie to watch would be cool to have those on the my media section. I had several in .ISO format. That was no good as it would not play those. Time to convert them! Used Handbrake to re-encode the movies to .mkv files with h.264 codec. DVD that is normally 4 gigs can be down to 1gig or less! You can build an impressive library of Movies that are ready at a clicks notice!
PBS has a nice article outlining various devices, services, etc here:
12/12/2012 – Update:
Playon is still cool if you need channel content streamed to Rokus. Currently I have switched primary media streaming in favor of Plex. (www.plexapp.com). New content setup is a:
1 – Synology DS212 with 2 x 3TB HD for redundant storage.
Synology can run Plex on the device and stream content to your devices (my case roku’s and Xbox 360). Be sure your content is in an acceptable format which seems to be the mainstream standard now: h264 video and aac audio with a MP4 container. If you have stuff that is in that format and not in a .mp4 file you can use FFMpeg to copy the contents to a .mp4 file. (xbox and roku compatible for HTTP streaming as the DS212 cannot transcode, give it a break it is a 2.0ghz arm proc).