Roku has won out as the first, official, hardware-based Netflix streaming box on the market. The concept and subscription plan that has been worked out by Roku and Netflix look very smart.
For those of you keeping score, Netflix's CEO Reek Hastings said in the past that there would initially be four hardware partners to offer up Netflix Watch-Now content. LG was the first one announced, Now Roku is obviously a second one and there are at least two remaining.
Here's some of the details on the Roku/Netflix Box:
- Roku Box Price $99
- Minimum Netflix subscription cost $9
- Roku Box look and feel: Small, boxy, black, fanless, comes with its own remote control
- Connections: HDMI (audio & video), Component Video, S-Video, Composite, Optical Audio, and Stereo Audio- cables not included
- Wireless and Wired Ethernet Connections Built-In
- Current accessible movie streaming available: almost 10,000 titles including movies, televisions shows and other content. Note that this does not include recent released movies which helps Netflix keep the cost low and their movie studios happy. I think this is another big disappointment, but still the large collection is a step in the right direction.
- Roku box is HD-ready and will support near-HD streaming once Netflix releases it.
- The Roku box will eventually support other online content in addition to Netflix
- Interface: I personally think the current offering is weak as there is no interface. You just use your remote to browse your already selected (using web browser on a separate computer) queue. You cannot currently search for movies with the boxes interface.
I think Netflix is making some very smart moves here. Use their excellent streaming capability and move as many titles to the boxes as possible. Hopefully now that they've hired a proven interface developer they will be working hard on improving the interface and expanding the watch-now streaming to other hardware/software solutions such as HTPCs.
What do you think? Would you pay $99 for another box with Netflix built-in?
UPDATE: Looks like Zatz is picking one up so we'll likely get firsthand reports at ZNF soon.
Roku Netflix Player Details at Roku Website
More on the Netflix/Vudu box versus AppleTV at NYTimes Blog