Posted on Wednesday, October 31st, 2012 by Angie Han
There’s no denying that streaming video has been a boon for movie lovers. Where you once had to wait for the local video store to actually stock a physical copy of a film you wanted to watch, now all you have to do if you want to watch, say, Big at home is log onto Netflix and click the “play” button.
Unless Big isn’t on Netflix, in which case it’s time to comb through HBO Go, Hulu Plus, or Amazon Instant if you already have a subscription. Maybe Vudu or iTunes, if you don’t. And then after all that, if it turns out none of the streaming services are offering Big for the price you’re willing to pay, you’ve just wasted ten minutes for nothing. Not the worst thing in the world, but perhaps not exactly how you wanted to use your time.
Yeah, streaming in general is certainly super convenient, but actually finding the exact movie you want isn’t always. Enter Roku, which has just added a very helpful universal search feature to its set-top boxes. Now all it takes is a single search to pinpoint exactly which service has Big, and for how much. Hit the jump to read more.
The company announced the new feature this week, via their blog. Users can go to Roku Search and type in the name of the movie, TV show, actor, or director they’re looking for. The program will then poke around Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, Crackle, VUDU, and HBO GO, and come back with a neat list of the services offering the title(s) along with details on the cost or subscription requirements. Over 130,000 films and TV episodes are included in the search, along with almost 100,000 actors and directors. Check out the video demonstration below:
As of now, Roku Search is compatible with Roku 2, Roku LT, newer Roku HD players, and the Roku Streaming Stick, plus Roku iOS and Android apps. Consumers who already have one of the supported devices can expect a free update to roll out over the next week, or, if they’re really eager to get things started, head to Settings to update their software. The Roku blog post has more.
It doesn’t sound like the new function is perfect. Some reviewers, such as Tech Crunch, have noted that the feature is “still pretty clunky due to the general Roku UI.” Even so, they conceded that it was a vast improvement over the old method of searching — i.e., checking into each channel separately. Roku isn’t the first company to come up with the idea of a universal search, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a great idea. Here’s hoping it catches on soon with other companies as well.