As the title states, the Blockbuster OnDemand MediaPoint 2Wire box just isn’t ready for prime time. While the pricing is extremely reasonable ($99 for the hardware, including 25 movie rentals), the interface looks pleasant, and the content selection is solid… the device is in need of a software update before I can recommend it.
Blockbuster attempts to do more than the basic Roku Netflix box, such as couch-based content browsing, but the experience is largely flawed. What started as a minor annoyance has grown for me – many screens fill too slowly. I’m not sure if this is due to the hardware, software, or retrieving network content. Either way, it’s a turn off. (And a reason why I also tend to avoid TiVo’s Java-based network apps.) It peaked when the entire thing slowed down to an unusable state and the power button was ineffective, requiring an unplug. Speaking of unplugging the unit, each time I moved this box room to room it mysteriously forgot my WPA2 passphrase – tedious to repeatedly reenter those 19 characters. I’ve only rented one flick, the latest Indiana Jones installment. The initial download automatically restarted a few times while attempting to retrieve a license. During the download, video can be watched but transport controls (rewind, fast forward) are disabled – so I waited for the completed download watching. Later in the evening I was greeted by the above DRM error message, requiring a few hard reboots (and WPA2 key reentries). Who knows if there was an issue with the content or their licensing server. In the end it doesn’t matter, it just added to my frustration. The “DVD quality” video looked fine when it wasn’t marred by artifacts and stuttering, which was quite noticeable on four occasions. Additionally, at two points the audio and video lost synchronization – a pause/play toggle corrected it. So that’s my experience after one day with the box.
As it stands, I’m banishing the Blockbuster OnDemand unit (and my 24 remaining credits) to the closet until I learn of a firmware update. I have too many other, less frustrating, options available to me.