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First set-top box for Netflix streaming service goes on sale today

Written by Rich Fiscus (Google+) @ 20 May 2008 10:28 User comments (12)

First set-top box for Netflix streaming service goes on sale today Today Netflix began promoting the first set-top box for streaming movies directly to a TV using their Instant Watching service. Instant Watching is part of every subscription to Netflix DVD rental plan, but until now a computer with Windows Media Player has been required for taking advantage of it.
The Netflix Player, which is manufactured by Roku, can be connected to a home network via Ethernet or Wi-Fi. TV outputs include HDMI, component video, composite video, and S-video. It's being offered from the Roku website for $99.99.

According to Roku VP of consumer devices Timothy Twerdahl the box includes a full complement of copy protection on the TV connections, including HDCP and Macrovision and "has been fully vetted by the studios.

He's also quick to point out that the unit has the potential to be far more than just a Netflix client. Its an open environment, Twerdahl said. It supports a lot of different codecs, a lot of DRMs, so its not limited to just playing movies from Netflix. For now, though, only the Netflix service is available on the device.

In the coming months at least one more set-top box for use with Netflix is expected. In January Netflix announced a deal with LG Electronics to produce their own Netflix compatible unit which is expected to ship in the fall.

Now that the problem of getting content from the internet to the television appears to be at least in the first stages of being resolved, perhaps Netflix can address the lack of popular movie and TV titles in their streaming library. Although there are a few noteable exceptions, such as the wildly successful "Heroes" from NBC, the selection of recent movies and TV shows is very limited.

No high definition ccontent is being offered at this time either, although according to the FAQ on the Roku site their set-top box is capable of handling HD streams.

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12 user comments

120.5.2008 10:33

Quote:
has been fully vetted by the studios.
What?, they are proud to be controlled my the studios?

220.5.2008 11:36

Would it be fair to assume that this could just be used as a media extender... instead of a PS3 or 360?

Quote:
He's also quick to point out that the unit has the potential to be far more than just a Netflix client. Its an open environment, Twerdahl said. It supports a lot of different codecs, a lot of DRMs, so its not limited to just playing movies from Netflix. For now, though, only the Netflix service is available on the device.
I'm going to keep my eye on this.

320.5.2008 11:38

This is a really cool idea. This is how it should be, no more renting dvds and returning them.

420.5.2008 11:53

they're happy to be controlled by the studios because that means they get the support.
yeah, support means money for them but it also means content for their customer base.

this is definitely a good thing. internet media needs to show up on the tv in more homes.
shows up on my tv, after all. maybe by the time i can afford one, i won't need a home theater pc.

520.5.2008 12:06

Quote:
Quote:
has been fully vetted by the studios.
What?, they are proud to be controlled my the studios?
Yes, it sounds that way (DRM):

Quote:
It supports.......a lot of DRMs, so its not limited to just playing movies from Netflix. For now, though, only the Netflix service is available on the device.
Supporting an open environment doesn't go hand in hand with DRM in my opinion, so I don't see it being comparable to a media center or an extension to a PS3 or 360. It may be a direct competitor once those two get a full video service up and running.

Who knows though. My Popcornhour is a nice little device with alot of capabilities, and it looks like it has the same connections - except the popcorn hour supports DTS audio out. Maybe next year I'll compare the latest Netflix box to my Popcorn Hour box with the latest firmware and see which is a better deal. I may just use it to rent movies if the basic membership price doesn't change. $8/month isn't bad.
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 20 May 2008 @ 12:08

620.5.2008 12:40

Quote:
Would it be fair to assume that this could just be used as a media extender... instead of a PS3 or 360?

Quote:
He's also quick to point out that the unit has the potential to be far more than just a Netflix client. Its an open environment, Twerdahl said. It supports a lot of different codecs, a lot of DRMs, so its not limited to just playing movies from Netflix. For now, though, only the Netflix service is available on the device.
I'm going to keep my eye on this.
I think movies will be shot through Ethernet form netflix servers, but probably won't let you stream stuff from your own PC.

720.5.2008 14:26

I guess I shouldn't have used the term "media extender", as a true media extender has the ability to do a lot more than what this unit could.

My main purpose would be to just stream my own movies from my PC. And with their comment of

Quote:
its not limited to just playing movies from Netflix.
I'd be inclined to think it's possible.

I do use one of my 360s for that purpose now, but why waste a $450 console (it's an Elite) if a $100 set top box will do the same thing.

I don't care about streaming from Netflix, I'm just trying to look "outside the box". ;)

820.5.2008 17:50

Originally posted by c1c:
This is a really cool idea. This is how it should be, no more renting dvds and returning them.
Just think about how much $ they would save in postage alone.

920.5.2008 18:30

Quote:
Originally posted by c1c:
This is a really cool idea. This is how it should be, no more renting dvds and returning them.
Just think about how much $ they would save in postage alone.
HA... that's the truth. And yet, as typical with every business, they'll give a reason to raise rates.

1020.5.2008 22:09

Silicon Alley Insider tells us why this Netflix box won't matter at all and won't change the game.

Quote:
Why does this matter? Most people haven't even thought about adding a Web video set top box to their living room setup, let alone a $100 box that's, at best, going to replace a few obscure cable channels showing reruns and bad movies. If newer movies are available for a few bucks on your cable box's on-demand system, that still makes more sense than wasting time with a Netflix box.

The $100 price tag will make this an attractive toy for early adopter-types. But we have a tough time seeing a lot of Netflix's 8 million subscribers running out to buy one of these one-function-only gadgets, especially when they can continue sampling Netflix streams on their PC. We're more excited about multi-use gadgets with Netflix streaming software built in, like whatever LG is working on (a Netflix-integrated Blu-ray player?) and the Netflix-Xbox tie-up we keep hearing rumors about.

1120.5.2008 22:35

Quote:
I guess I shouldn't have used the term "media extender", as a true media extender has the ability to do a lot more than what this unit could.

My main purpose would be to just stream my own movies from my PC. And with their comment of
Quote:
its not limited to just playing movies from Netflix.
I'd be inclined to think it's possible.

I do use one of my 360s for that purpose now, but why waste a $450 console (it's an Elite) if a $100 set top box will do the same thing.

I don't care about streaming from Netflix, I'm just trying to look "outside the box". ;)

Less than $50, an old XBOX with XBMC...

1223.6.2008 14:21

"The box includes a full complement of copy protection on the TV connections, including HDCP and Macrovision and "has been fully vetted by the studios.

That's all well and good, except for the fact that if you want the content bad enough, all you need to do is watch the content from their webiste on your PC, record the content with a streaming recorder and then, if the recorded file is corrupted with protection, just run it through a program like SoundTaxi and that'll take care of the stupid DRM. Real tough road blocks to be sure. If the studios trust that technology enough though to sing off on it then who cares. Everyone wins.

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