Roku Netflix Box Now Streaming HD (For Some)

Since the news broke on Friday, I’ve been obsessively diligently instructing my Roku Netflix box to check for the version 1.5 software update. While my serial number or region hasn’t yet been cleared for the upgrade and I’m stuck on 1.0.1, NewTeeVee’s unit has been hit with the refresh. The primary visible enhancement is the ability to stream Netflix’s small library of high definition video at 720p. But Roku’s also left us with a not-so-subtle teaser (as seen above):

This screen will become your launching pad for a number of great new channels that will begin to appear on your player in early 2009. In addition to the hugely popular Netflix channel, you’ll see movie channels, TV channels, web video and more!

For some time we’ve heard the Hulu rumors… but are these based on fact, or merely wishful thinking? YouTube seems like a natural fit. Regarding these “movie channels”, I wonder if Roku has worked a deal with someone like CinemaNow – which is on the now-shipping VuNow media box. Regardless of the new content sources and with the new HD streaming, it’s safe to say our economical $99 boxes are increasing in value.

8 thoughts on “Roku Netflix Box Now Streaming HD (For Some)”

  1. I received the update yesterday and it is certainly welcome and exciting for a little $99 black box.

    However, the HD quality from Netflix is certainly poor. Digital artifacts abound in everything from Pan’s Labyrinth to Heroes to 30 Rock. My streaming connection was at the highest quality.

    Here’s hoping for a better HD stream in 2009.

  2. In addition to the new 720p HD support, the new Roku software upgrade also allows for up scaling of SD titles to 720p and enables Roku’s switch to the new VC-1 AP streams, which previously used to be VC1-MP. The switch to the new encoding gives similar or better quality for lower bit rates. Roku’s HD quality videos are now encoded at 2.7Mbps and 3.8Mbps.

  3. If you manually go into the Roku STB and try to download the update 3 times, you should get the new 1.5 software on the 3rd try. The server stalled on me a couple of times when fetching the update, but eventually I was able to upgrade to 1.5.

  4. @ Philoneous

    Thank you for the tip, that worked for me. I am testing out the new features now. I didn’t know that getting the new update was like calling for Beetleguice.

  5. Thanks! That worked for me, too (the “try 3 times to upgrade to 1.5).

    Looks great! Those that quibble over movie choices and occasional screen ‘dirt’ just don’t get it… this is awesome technology… truly the ‘future’. I’m very impressed. ‘The Thing’ looks as good as you could want!


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