i've been using my nexus one as a wifi hotspot for my roku, which made me find out that tmobile has a 5GB cap before they slow my internet to be unworthy.
Internet video (especially high quality internet video) is incredibly bandwidth piggish, with it being semi-common to use up around 2GB for watching just a single movie.
Doing video on such a low bandwidth ISP plan is a disaster waiting to happen.
i'm wondering if anyone knows/can find out how much data an average movie would use?
Varies with the movie, and the bandwidth quality settings displayed at, but I like to use 2GB as a good round figure.
It's actually possible to calculate a rough figure yourself, if you know the streaming rate you are viewing at and the length of the movie. For example, at the 1.5 megabit (NetFlix 4 dot but not HD quality setting) you would likely use a little less than 0.7GB per hour (i.e. 1.5mbits / 1000mbits/gbit / 8bits/byte * 60seconds * 60minutes) . HD video is obviously more bandwidth, and 2 dot NetFlix video quality only uses about 1/3 of that bandwidth.
if theres a way to force low quality and use less?
Yes, but only down to a certain point. And the setting only works on channels (such as the NetFlix channel) that have multiple quality/speed streams for each thing you want to watch.
Go to the ROKU's hidden bandwidth force screen, and select the speed you want to use (instead of letting the ROKU test and auto-pick your bandwidth quality/speed). For example, if you want the lowest (least bandwidth using) quality available, you would select the 0.3mbit setting from this hidden menu. Then the ROKU will give you an available quality/stream that is closest to the speed you selected/forced. However, if/when no steam is available at that slower speed (you selected), you will still get the closest available stream without the ROKU asking you first (even if/when the closest available stream is much higher bandwidth). The ROKU's hidden bandwidth screen is reachable by pressing the following on the remote (roughly 1/3 second wait between the various key presses):
Home Home Home Home Home Rewind Rewind Rewind FastForward FastForward
NOTE: The last time I tried forcing the really slow (and IMHO bad looking) "one dot" (300kbit) NetFlix stream, I got the "two dot" (500kbit) stream instead. So it may be that NetFlix is no longer offering the "one dot" stream anymore. And while it hurts your bandwidth, IMHO the "one dot" stream is so slow (low quality) it is semi-painful to watch anyway...
NOTE: Even if you force NetFlix to use the 500kbit (2 dot) stream, you will still be likely using up over 0.2GB every hour (on your 5GB plan, under 25 hours of viewing even if you used your bandwidth for nothing else). And that estimate doesn't even factor in other bandwidth using aspects of the ROKU. For example, there is bandwidth used by NetFlix to download the movie cover art and your "instant queue", there is bandwidth used by the ROKU to download firmware updates, etc. So even forcing a really low speed/stream, you will still be VERY TIGHT (requiring you to very much limit your usage, possibly limit ROKU background bandwidth by unplugging it when not using it, etc.) with such a low bandwidth limit on your ISP plan.