D-Link MovieNite Review

Dave Zatz —  April 14, 2012 — 15 Comments

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.

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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.

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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.

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15 responses to D-Link MovieNite Review

  1. Some random notes…

    Press release indicates the device run $59.99 but Wal-mart online and the store I visited are selling it for $48. Netflix streaming will go up to 1080p with 5.1 audio according the D-Link PR. D-Link PR also indicates there are no plans for additional channels at this time – so you really do have to be satisfied with these offerings. However, as I said up above, they covered their bases and it’s a solid lineup.

    Also, D-Link is probably wise to revisit the lower end, basic streamer… given they’ve only moved 200,000 Boxee boxes (compared to the millions of Rokus sold).

  2. No Amazon? Sounds like a deal breaker for many of the types of people who buy these kind of boxes.

  3. John, Vudu should be equivalent to Amazon for VOD – although obviously without Amazon’s substantial ecosystem that many of us are tied into and Prime streaming. But for pure PPV/VOD, Vudu is a top notch offering. I’d also say Netflix is what drives most purchases of these kind of boxes – and a low price plus shelf space at a major retailer like Wal-mart bodes well for D-Link… which runs $10 less than Roku. Conversely, I’d imagine this box wouldn’t be suitable for many of our higher end savvy regular readers. But maybe our parents or less technical siblings with simpler needs. Roku’s UI has gotten too cluttered for someone like my mom, not to mention the account registration thing. She’d miss out on Amazon Prime streaming and can’t use HBO GO (thanks, Comcast) from the Roku, but D-Link’s more straight forward ad-free interface might be preferable. Thinking about giving her this box… we’ll see.

  4. The only thing that’s missing in my opinion is Crackle.

  5. Needs Amazon VOD (Prime + whatever you’ve bought in Your Video Library) and Crackle or no deal.

    Vudu is overpriced, IMHO.

    But I wonder how long it will be before we see net-tops drop to $199.

  6. Well, something like D-Link’s Boxee Box (~$180) is essentially a specialized net-top. Obviously, it’s not as flexible as a full fledged desktop OS but it’s perhaps more accessible and efficient. Haven’t looked lately – wonder what refurb Mac Minis with HDMI are going for these days. Probably more than I care to spend.

  7. Why does it seem so difficult for the box makers (this one, Roku, Tivo, etc…) to include a push-button or rocker on/off switch for the inevitable reboots?

  8. What inevitable reboots? I haven’t seen those issues with my Roku2.

  9. I’ve had my Tivo Series 2s and Series 3 lock up on occasion. I’ve had my Roku gen 1 lock up or freeze or get out of sync with hulu Plus and sometimes Netflix. So you have to grasp the device, unplug, and feel for the replug if the device is not clearly out in the open. How hard would it be to add a simple switch on the back to reboot the device?

  10. Thanks for the article. I could not find the android app. I wonder why they make it so difficult.

  11. So have you checked out the MovieNite Plus? That has over 100 apps/channels.

  12. If you need to replace the remote their website refers you to another site that charges $65 for a remote-more than the $48 to purchase at Wal Mart in the first place! Customer service is very poor. They don’t reply to e mail left for customer support : (

  13. At least it has a LAN input.Wireless is not an option in my environment.SD output is fine since 98% of the trash in in this format anyway.

  14. Yeah, well, it would be a reasonable option if D-Link’s online support was worth anything at all. At the moment the box appears to have no problem signing on, and it gets to the main menu, but then the light stays yellow and it won’t connect to any of the services. I had always regarded D-Link as a respected name in hardware, but after spending the past 30 minutes utterly frustrated by a totally non-responsive online “customer help” site (one that runs you around from one page to another and then back to the same page over and over when you try to submit a response—if, that is, it hasn’t already told you your session is expired by then—and that has a “virtual chat” service that can’t even recognize the model number of the equipment I’m having a problem with, I can pretty much guarantee I won’t be buying anything from them in the future.

  15. And @ Cole:

    After this experience, wit them, I’m not surprised to hear about the outrageous charge for a replacement remote. But hey—at least they let you *send* them an email. I can’t even find a way to do that!

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