D-Link unveiled a new low-end streamer this week, the MovieNite (DSM-310) – exclusively available via Wal-mart for $48. So, as I’m wont to do, I immediately picked one up (and simultaneously discovered a new Roku box).
Unlike its chief competition at this price point, MovieNite has a finite number of pre-loaded “channels” compared to Roku’s 400+ channel bazaar (which often is bizarre). And D-Link’s competently covered all the bases with Vudu (by Wal-mart) for high quality video rentals, Netflix streaming, Pandora audio, and Picasa photos. Also, D-Link bests Roku by offering YouTube.
As to the actual experience, MovieNite can be a bit rough around the edges with a sometimes sluggish interface, perhaps exacerbated by a lack of transitions, and old school fonts. I also experienced a lock up that required pulling the power cable and another incident where the box let out a high pitched squeal as it rebooted. Having said that, the streamlined UI homescreen is suitable for novices — like my mom who’d be overwhelmed by all of Roku’s options and put off by their advertising. Further, the remote channel shortcut buttons make much more sense with a fixed lineup.
The hardware itself is larger than Apple TV and Roku, yet perfectly acceptable – both handsome and innocuous. And, unlike those streamers, MovieNite also features a remote power button. Something that, again, novices may be more comfortable with. Whereas the lower end wireless-only Roku devices cap out at 720p, D-Link’s offering hits 1080p and kindly integrates an Ethernet jack in addition to WiFi capabilities.
D-Link provides a MovieNite app for both iPhone and Android handsets… but I had a heck of a time locating it. Three calls to D-Link tech support were extremely frustrating and ultimately unsuccessful. D-Link’s PR agency set me straight, though – instructing me to search for “D-Link Remote” in the App Store rather than “MovieNite” or “D-Link”. Sadly, the app itself really isn’t worth the bother. First, the primary reason you’d want a virtual remote control is to access a QWERTY keyboard for text entry – think logins and content searches. But I couldn’t locate this feature. Further, the app seems to experience continual connectivity issues. And, lastly, if you accidentally tap that power button you’ll be hunting down the physical remote to turn the device back on anyhow.
Overall, D-Link’s MovieNite is a solid offering at the low-end that compares quite favorably to Roku’s LT and HD units for those who’d be satisfied with the fixed channel lineup.