Archives For Netflix

We’re big fans of Roku here at ZNF. In fact, the Soundbridge was one of my first streaming devices way back when. (Not to mention Mari and I have both been satisfied ReplayTV owners – a company also founded by Anthony Wood.) Of course, these days, Roku’s all about their small television-connected media player… which comes in three variations: $80 SD, $100 HD, and $130 HD-XR. All units provide access to Roku “channels” including Netflix, Amazon VOD, and Pandora. Sports have also started to make an appearance with the addition of MLB.TV, UFC PPV, and NBA Game Time highlight channels.

We only recommend products that we’d buy; Therefore, the SD Roku model is not appropriate for ZNF readers (and why we rarely mention it even exists). The $100 Roku HD is what we normally discuss and is suitable for most. The $30 HD-XR surcharge bumps you from 80211.g to 802.11n, providing increased wireless range and additional bandwidth. More interestingly, the XR ships with a USB port. And, presumably, at some point Roku will offer local playback capabilities, via that USB connection and hopefully the LAN, to fend off the likes of Western Digital’s HD TV Live.

Through June 20th, Roku is offering $25 off the HD-XR model. So if you’re in the market for a Roku, $5 more for the HD XR over the base HD unit is a no brainer. Here’s how you get it: Click this link, add a Roku HD XR to your cart, click on past the accessories screen, and then apply coupon code ready2roku.

Netflix recently launched a very interesting presentation on their employment page that describes their ongoing evolution from physical media distributor to Internet-delivered content provider. PLUS a good number of slides (accurately) describe where they see the competition coming from. It’s a must read if you’re at all interested in the space (and/or a NFLX investor). Some specific highlights beyond the meta conversation:

  • DVD shipments will peak in 2013
  • Estimate of 17 million Netflix subscribers by the end of the year
  • International expansion beginning this year
  • No “adult” content

(via NewTeeVee and HackingNetfllix)

Click to enlarge:

Over the last week or so, I’ve received a few tips and inquiries regarding the Popbox folks removing all Netflix references and imagery from a redesigned website ahead of launch.

While the Popbox brings along many of the powerful local playback capabilities found in Syabas’ precursor Popcorn Hour devices, the Popbox introduces a refreshed UI and apps. Indeed, Netflix is now a conspicuous absence… given the competition, but also since Syabas pushed it hard as part of their launch announcement (CES flyer below, my CES briefingpress release here). Yesterday, I reached out to their PR team for clarification:

So I get the story right… Will Netflix be available on Popbox at launch?

PopBox wants to have as many apps on the platform as possible at launch but we don’t have the final lineup quite yet. The great thing about the platform is that it updates easily, so while I can’t confirm either way that Netflix will be available at launch just yet, we do hope to have Netflix on the box as soon as possible.

I have little insight into how Netflix licenses streaming partners – requirements, compensation, etc. But it does appear that something has changed or wasn’t worked out in a timely fashion by Syabas given the current Netflix situation. And something to (re)consider should you have pre-ordered a Popbox from Amazon.

(Thanks David, Tom!)

While those of us in the know were aware RCN has been deploying customized TiVo Premiere units to all-comers in the DC area the last few weeks, a press release and updated landing page now make it official. Unlike the retail TiVo Premiere ($299), RCN’s rendition is currently limited to the the original TiVo interface. But what you gain in functionality and support is pretty substantial.

For only a few bucks more over the monthly cost of the generic RCN DVR, TiVo renters end up with a much better experience. More storage, more features, better UI. Compared to a retail TiVo, the RCN includes over 10,000 hours of On Demand content – transparently utilizing SeaChange technology and RCN broadband to get it done. While features like YouTube and TiVoToGo are enabled, and something not seen in prior relationships like DirecTV, someone has made the decision to prohibit access to Netflix and Amazon VOD. Yet it’s not a unilateral blockage of third party VOD service, as Blockbuster On Demand is available. Go figure. (Given their respective catalogs, for competitive reasons, it’d make more sense to block AMZN and BBI while allowing Netflix.)

In the long run, it’s possible a RCN-provided TiVo (max: $20/mo) could cost more than it’s retail counterpart. But official cable-co support is priceless. They will figure out any CableCARD problems. They will replace defective units. And if a better retail TiVo comes along, cancel the rental and grab it. Other than the loss of Netflix, I’m having a hard time seeing any downside.

As the first Netflix-enabled set-top device (spun off from NFLX), it comes as no surprise that Roku ($99) will be their first partner to bring the entirety of Netflix’s streaming catalog to the 10′ interface. Instead of merely browsing your queue (TiVo), or top genre selections if you’re lucky (Xbox), come June, Roku will allow us to browse, search, queue up, or play every title found within Netflix’s streaming catalog… from within a brand spanking new UI (above). And those of you pining for a QWERTY Roku remote to take advantage of the upcoming search functionality need look no further than this iPhone app ($.99), which provides automated text entry.

Some of the more sophisticated Netflix streaming implementations utilize Flash locally, yet moles suggest Roku’s solution is server-based – and the company has indeed confirmed it isn’t implemented in Flash. In addition to this jazzed up Netflix UI, I also expect we’ll also see a refreshed Roku dashboard in the near future to better accomodate their growing number of content partners.

sony-dash9

As I proclaimed (on camera) at CES earlier this year, 2010 ushers in a new category of media consumption devices. Something us geeks have dabbled with for ages, but the trend is finally making its way into the mainstream. And while I actually missed the Sony Dash at CES, it landed on my radar big time when Netflix streaming was announced in February.

Unlike the tablet-esque iPad or Nook, the now-shipping Sony Dash ($199) is more of a stationary Internet widget station that houses a 7″ capacitive touchscreen. Speaking of those widgets, the core app catalog is provided via a partnership with Chumby. But fortunately dispenses with the hacky sack look. The Dash features at least two default displays and Chumby widgets, added via the unit and/or configured via an online portal, are windowed – but can optionally also be expanded fullscreen. My preferred presentation, after about 24 hours of testing this loaner unit, is pictured above.

sony-dash10

Beyond Chumby, Sony has impressively channeled their Bravia Internet Video platform — which includes the likes of Netflix, Pandora, YouTube, and Slacker. I briefly played with the Netflix app and was surprised at how good it looked when streaming an episode of Weeds. Of course, most of us won’t want to actually watch long-form content on a 7″ screen. Which is why one of my first stops was Slacker. That particular UI consist of grainy album art and lacks text labels, but once I got my account linked online, I was loving the Dash. Audio volume and quality are OK for a kitchen or bedroom. The speakers won’t blow anyone away, but they’re better than most laptops. Most impressively, and something an iPad can’t do (yet), is the ability to stream that Slacker audio in the background while say running the Chumby Twitter app. Continue Reading…

Woot‘s got the Samsung BD-P1590 up today for a low $85 shipped. I can’t say it’s the best Blu-ray player, or even very good. In fact, one of the top ZNF posts of all time is our coverage of Samsung’s sister unit, the BD-P1600. Because it’s got problems. Amazon commentary of the 1590 isn’t very flattering either.

However, if you’re willing to accept slower boot times, run of the mill picture quality, and that “Wireless Ready” does not equal wireless… $85 is a pretty good deal. Because, in addition to Blu-ray playback, you’ll have access to Netflix, Pandora, YouTube, and Blockbuster VOD.

I wouldn’t recommend this Samsung for your living room, but it might make a nice addition to the den or kid’s room. Assuming you can hardwire it.

Netflix has been getting a lot of attention for its new iPad app that lets users not only manage their queue, but also stream movies and TV shows to Apple’s new tablet. But it looks like you might not need to pick up an iPad to get that feature. Netflix has pretty much said that the app is on its way to the iPhone and iPod touch as well.

There’s no word on how long we’ll have to wait. But Netflix has already done the hard part. Previously, you need a computer with the Silverlight plugin to stream Netflix “watch instantly” videos. The Apple iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch don’t support that plugin (or Adobe Flash), so Netflix had to retool the video streaming service to use HTML5 and other web standards that are available on these mobile devices.

This post republished from Mobiputing.