I read an announcement in Home Media Magazine that PlayOn, a service that connects devices with online media, just released a beta version of their software that includes support for the Wii. It's a way to view Netflix, Hulu and some other media sites through your gaming console. PlayOn lets you use the software for free for two weeks, so it's worth checking out. NetFlix also offers a free two-week trial, according to their website, so with two free trials you can presumably have Netflix for free on your Wii for a couple of weeks. (If you want to use PlayOn permanently it's $40, although someone who works for PlayOn put a coupon code for $10 off in the comment section below.)
Here's How to Install PlayOn
If you want to check out PlayOn, you'll need a Windows PC, a Wii that is connected to the Internet, and The Internet Channel, a web browser that you can purchase through the Wii's online store.
First, from your computer go to the PlayOn site and download and run the software. Once PlayOn is running on your PC, go to your Wii's Internet Channel and go to playon.tv. You will now see a list of media channels you can access. Some, like Netflix and Amazon VOD require a subscription, while others, like CNN, will let you watch video for free. Some, like CBS and Hulu, have commercials, although they seem to be short.
It is also possible to add channels through the use of a plug-in feature. There is only one official PlayOn plug-in right now for something called Revision3 (available here), which from a brief look wasn't all that exciting. However, at Playon Plugins you can find a wealth of plug-ins for online networks such as PBS and the Syfy Network (formerly known as the Sci-Fi Network; does anyone else think that was a really lame change?). These plug-ins seem to usually work, although the BBC one couldn't find any shows for me. There is also a plug-in that actually lets you view video stored on your PC.
After installing the Revision3 plug-in I was told to restart PlayOn. Not realizing there was a stop/start button, I simply exited PlayOn altogether, and then discovered that the installer does not put an icon for PlayOn in your StartMenu; only shortcuts to the user manual and settings. The PlayOn shortcut is only placed on your desktop. After restarting PlayOn I still didn't have Revision3, but it was there the next day. My advice: use the start/stop button when installing plug-ins.
When I installed some of the unofficial plug-ins, which require you to turn off PlayOn, put the plug-in file in a folder and restart, once again the plug-ins didn't show up. Even though I'd exited PlayOn, and it didn't show up in my taskbar, I discovered through the task manager (which you can access with Ctrl+Alt+Del or by right clicking the taskbar and clicking on "task manager") that it was still running, so I killed it and then restarted. Then my plug-ins showed up when I refreshed the PlayOn page in my Wii browser.
A Mini-Review of PlayOn
A quick exploration of PlayOn showed it to work pretty well. Once a video is playing, a little control panel that appears when you point the remote at the screen lets you click a full screen mode that centers your video. It's not perfect, but it works decently.
The biggest drawback to PlayOn is there is no search feature; you have to go to general categories and then just page through lists of videos. This means that while PlayOn includes a YouTube channel, you are much better off just going to youtube.com with your Wii browser. Hopefully they will have added a search feature by the time the software is out of beta.