Hot on the heels of a system software update, and as promised, TiVo Series 3, HD, and HD XL subscribers who also partake in an unlimited Netflix plan will be able to stream a wide variety of video content at no additional cost:
This morning subscribers can browse through an expanding library of more than 12,000 movies and TV episodes at www.netflix.com, add them to their Netflix Instant Queue, and then watch them on TV with just a click of the TiVo remote. Movies are streamed from Netflix through TiVo DVRs via wired or wireless broadband connection and a Netflix Queue-based user interface. The library includes titles from every genre, with a modest selection of HD content available as well. Both standard and HD titles are expected to grow in the weeks and months ahead.
As you can see from the video above and pics below, I’ve spent some time with the service over the weekend. While the hybrid Netflix+TiVo interface isn’t as snappy as my Xbox or Roku boxes, receiving Netflix digital video on a DVR ~a primary television set-top box~ is extremely significant. Also notable, this represents the first time TiVo has facilitated high definition Internet video. As with all current Netflix implementations, fast forward and rewind are atypical – scrubbing is done via thumbnail images and requires rebuffering of the content. I also encountered more periodic buffering than on my other Netflix devices, though this particular Series3 isn’t ideally positioned for wirelessly accessing my router. So I’m not sure if it’s a TiVo issue or a network issue.
While the new service offering is quite cool, especially in light of the zero cost to existing subscribers, Netflix still lacks a stellar lineup of current, big budget, blockbuster video – making TiVo’s HD support most exciting for me… assuming Amazon will offer better quality rentals shortly. (Having said that, Netflix does have a nice selection of foreign and indy flicks plus a good deal of television content. The recent Starz relationship has also enhanced the catalog.)