November 15, 2010, 10:51 AM — Time was the only way you could access Netflix's Watch Instantly feature was on a Windows PC. Now you only need to watch on a computer (Intel Macs included) if you want to. There are now many different ways to enjoy streaming Netflix content where you really want to see it--on your TV.
Each of the options has different strengths--including cost, video quality, and convenience. There's one big difference among all these: The user interface is different from device to device, so the elegant view you see on Apple TV won't be the same one you find on a internet-connected DVD player, for example.
Which one is best for you? Check out your options below.
1. Streaming video players
For a while, Roku's streaming player was the only stand-alone device you could use to get Netflix onto your TV. Now it's just one of a handful of video players that can do so, including high-profile additions like the new Apple TV ( Macworld rated 4 out of 5 mice )--with a custom Netflix interface--the Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex TV HD Media Player ( Macworld rated 3 out of 5 mice ), and Western Digital's WD TV Live Plus ( Macworld rated 4 out of 5 mice ). These devices specialize in streaming content, and they do the job well--though as more networked Blu-ray players and TVs enter the market, the future of set top boxes that only stream content may be in jeopardy. Many of the streamers, such as Roku's XD and XDS models, support 1080p streaming--Apple TV can only output 720p--but Netflix doesn't offer any content in 1080p resolution, and probably won't for a long time due to bandwidth realities. And some players also offer component video output--useful if you're already using all your TV's HDMI inputs and don't want to invest in an HDMI switcher.
2. Game consoles