“Netflix today unveiled a new set-top box to be produced by privately held Roku Inc. that will allow subscribers to stream an unlimited number of movies and television shows directly to televisions. The device costs $99. The video content is free to anyone with a Netflix subscription of $8.99 a month or more. Most of the video content will consist of older material, rather than new releases,” Eric Savitz blogs for Barron’s.

“The obvious comparison here is with Apple’s Apple TV box, which costs more, requires paying for movies downloaded from iTunes, but also offers more functionality, like the ability to stream personal music and photo content to your television. Older movies for free? Newer movies for a fee? It’s an interesting choice,” Savitz blogs.

MacDailyNews Take: Yeah, Eric, it would be an interesting choice, if it made any fargin’ sense. We must have missed the memo where the definition of “free” was changed from “no cost” to “$99 upfront plus $8.99 per month (base starting price).” The Netflix box also requires users to queue up movies on a computer unlike the Apple TV, which lets users choose content from the comfort of their couches, no computer required.

Full article here.

It’s too bad that Netflix’s rather ugly black Roku box ignores new feature film releases, current TV shows, your photo libraries, your iTunes music libraries, music videos, podcasts, and YouTube content like Steve Ballmer ignores antiperspirant, hair gel, and cardio. They simply don’t exist, baby!

So, you “save” $129 if you buy the Netflix box instead of an Apple TV, at least until the first year or so of paying at least $8.99 a month goes by. Then, your “savings” go poof, you end up quickly paying much more for much less and, hey, you still can’t play your tunes, see your photos, check out YouTube and podcasts, see any new movies or TV shows, or have the option to purchase content. What a great product!

The fact that Netflix limits their selection of old movies to just weak 480i resolution only adds to the disappointment. Of course, Apple offers new releases, same day as DVD, in 720p HD with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound for Apple TV (hardware is capable of up to 1080i).