Along with the introduction of the new Roku 2 digital media streamers ($60 – $100) comes an updated Netflix app. While we knew 1080p video and subtitles (pics below) were onboard, I can now also confirm the presence of Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 pass-through audio. Of course, these richer AV capabilities are dependent on items within the Netflix catalog – and it’s safe to assume a good deal of content variability. However, the adaptive bitrate encoded feed that Roku has implemented will allow Netflix video to “adjust constantly to the speed of your Internet connection.” Meaning, no more stopping and restarting of movies or shows in hopes of landing a higher resolution feed when network congestion lets up.
Sadly, the enhanced Netflix app won’t be making its way to earlier Roku hardware. From Roku’s Director of Product Management:
Unfortunately, these new encodings will not be supported on previous generation Roku players. We try to ensure that new features in a channel are supported on all previous generations of players. However, this is not always possible.
Whether or not this is a technical limitation versus a business decision is anyone’s guess. Although the new Roku 2 hardware clearly seems more capable. Other than the small matter of that unresolved storage/memory shortcoming…