Those looking to shift their Netflix addiction from the touchscreen to the big screen — and get some other web-connected staples in the process — will find D-Link’s MovieNite Plus video streamer a worthy purchase at a very palatable price of $80.
Though it’s just as capable and easy to use as the Roku XD, which is also $80, the MovieNite Plus doesn’t have the depth of content options available on the Roku. For that reason alone, the Roku is the superior device, and the one we’d recommend for most people. However, the MovieNite Plus is still a sensible buy for somebody who only cares about accessing one or two key streaming services (like Netflix and YouTube) and who doesn’t already have a way to get them, like a smart TV, console, or streaming box.The content choices may be limited, but the video quality is great, and it’s as easy to use as something this simple should be.
Setting up the 4.6-inch square hockey puck is dead simple — just plug the (included!) HDMI cable into an available port on the television and connect the device to your network via either Wi-Fi or Ethernet. The MovieNite player comes packaged with five services: Netflix, YouTube, Pandora, Picasa, and Vudu. The mydlink app is a sixth option on the menu, which you can use for integrating your set-top box with one of the mydlink products like wireless network cameras and routers.
The MovieNite Plus’ interface is a familiar and Roku-like sideways-scrolling array of these app icons. You navigate it with the directional thumb-pad on the remote. The remote also has your standard play/pause, stop, and fast-forward buttons, plus buttons for Back, Home, and Options. All of these buttons are comfortably large, and the layout is intuitive if you’re thumbing around in the dark. But D-Link makes jumping directly to one of the major services even easier — at the bottom of the remote are four plasticky logo buttons for Vudu, Netflix, Pandora, and YouTube.
In the performance department, the MovieNite Plus provides an entirely satisfactory experience for a sub-$100 media streamer. Pre-load buffering times on videos are minimal, though you’ll wait a little longer for HD content. 1080p videos stream with nary a stutter and virtually no artifacting — but of course, your results will vary depending on the quality of your home wireless connection. I had one issue with a firmware upgrade that left me stuck on an infinite loading screen, but a subsequent upgrade went without a hitch, and brought with it nice UI improvements such as a more PS3-like Netflix experience (a definite plus).
This box is actually an upgrade from D-Link’s original $48 MovieNite, and one of the big differences in the new hardware is the better selection of apps. In the main menu are selections for MovieNite apps and Vudu apps. The former offers a wide range of video content from sources like Etsy, NASA, and College Humor. Although labeled as “apps,” they’re really more like channels — and, oddly, you can’t add one of these sources to the main home screen interface. Within Vudu apps, you’ve got more traditional offerings like Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, and The New York Times. The apps aren’t necessarily fully fleshed out — with Twitter, for instance, you can view your stream, favorites, list, or search topics or hashtags, but there’s no option to craft tweets or view or respond to @ replies or direct messages. Not that you’d want to using the onscreen keyboard, anyway.
Although D-Link provides a handful of streaming staples and a number of apps on the MovieNite Plus, it doesn’t look like it’ll be getting other key services any time soon. The remote has those four quick navigation buttons, but if D-Link were to gain another major player like Hulu Plus, Vimeo or Amazon Instant, the remote would suddenly take one step away from relevance. There’s also a D-Link Remote app available for iOS and Android. It’s a nice thought, but the app frustratingly lacks an onscreen keyboard for typing search terms.
For comparison, the $100 Apple TV provides a handful of sports app channels and video content options, integrates with your other iOS products, and streams locally from screen to screen via AirPlay. Apple’s remote is even more simplistic in design, but it’s iOS app alternative is far better than D-Link’s. On the $80 Roku XD, you’ve got much of the same functionality as the D-Link, plus a ton of content choices, ranging from Disney and HBO Go to Facebook.
If you don’t subscribe to the Apple way of life, and you aren’t really looking for a hundred different things to do on your television, you’ll be more than happy with what you get out of D-Link’s premium set-top box. The content choices may be limited, but the video quality is great, and it’s as easy to use as something this simple should be.
WIRED Easy to set up and straightforward to use. Price is right. Quick navigation buttons on remote make it easy to jump from Netflix, to Pandora, to YouTube on a whim. Comes with an HDMI cable.
TIRED Too few streaming services on offer. Some of the interfaces, like Vudu’s, are a bit convoluted and initially a bit overwhelming to navigate. D-Link Remote mobile app less useful than the actual remote control. No option for viewing content from your computer.
Article by Christina Bonnington (c) Product Reviews - Read full story here.