Review: D-Link DSM-312 MovieNite Plus

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.

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).

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