Netflix's First Set-Top Box

Netflix has released the first set top box which will allow you to live-stream movies to your television on demand. The first unit is produced by Roku for only $99, and all you need is a netflix subscription to use it. I think I'm more excited about this device than anyone else I know. It's clearly the future of how we're going to watch movies. And while the Roku box has a lot of things right: The price, HDMI output, standard video quality, Wifi connectivity, and easy set-up/installation, it is still appears to be an early product.



The problems: Only 10,000 of the 100,000 DVDs are available for instant stream. That's not to say there aren't some great selections. Here is a sampling that Roku lists on their website:

  • 30 Rock (2007; TV)
  • The Good German (2006)
  • La Vie en Rose (2007)
  • Weeds (2006; TV)
  • Absolute Power (1997)
  • Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
  • Heroes (2007; TV)
  • Letters from Iwo Jima (2007)
  • Blade Runner (1982)
  • The Office (2006; TV)
  • 2 Days in Paris (2007)
  • Mean Girls (2004)
  • The Sum of All Fears (2002)
  • Misery (1990)
  • The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)
  • For the most part it seems like classic catalog titles and recent independent/mini-major releases. There is probably enough to keep me going for years. Especially their television show selection. And the offered selection is always growing.

    The biggest problem I have with the unit is that it doesn't allow you to choose a movie directly from the set-top box. You need to first go to your netflix account on a computer and add the instant watch titles to your netflix queue. And apparently you can have over 500 titles in your instant watch queue to choose from while sitting on your couch. But having to first add the selections to your account on the website is one extra set which seems unnecessary. I wonder if they have to do this to get around On demand exclusivity deals.

    Roku Back

    But imagine the possibilities. Imagine having 50,000 movies and tv shows to choose from. Imagine when a big company like Apple or Sony makes a set-top box for the service, how much better the functionality could be. Basically, imagine being able to rent a netflix movie when you want, and watch it instantly from the comfort of your couch, for not one cent more than your standard netflix description. It's going to happen, but this unit is clearly for the early adopter (a group I usually belong to). And for only $100, it's not a huge investment.

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