Roku ‘Netflix Player’ box streams old movies and TV shows to your TV

“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).

68 Comments

  1. At Gizmodo, the Apple-hating fanboys all went crazy over it. I don’t know why.

    Even though I’m not a big fan of Apple TV, I’d much rather have it than this box. At least I can stream and store whatever movies I want on top of purchases from the iTunes catalog.

  2. I’d prefer to see a little more analysis and a lot less jingoistic cheering for all things Apple.

    People who are using Netflix are already paying a monthly subscription fee. (And Netflix already has a huge user base.) For an additional one time payment of $99 they add online delivery of their content.

    I’m not sure who gets what kind of advantage here. But I’m very sure that the battle to win consumers to new types of video content delivery devices is moving into high gear.

  3. Of course if you already happen to have a Media Center PC, you can add this for free instead of paying $99. And yes, it is $8.99 a month, but you do get unlimited movies.

    But yeah, even I’ll give the nod to an Apple TV here. In the end, though, downloaded movies aren’t my thing. If I’m going to buy (or even rent) a movie, I’d much rather have the media, extras, and box, in the highest quality (Blu-Ray).

  4. I would not discount this as real competition. Windows has always been inferior and cheeper then the Macintosh, yet it enjoys 97% market share.

    Quality only matters to those that seek it. To the masses, this solution might be good enough. Just like Windows.

  5. I like the idea of older movies. I think 95% of movies past 1984 suck ass anyway, so the newer stuff doesn’t matter to me.

    Then again, I can just continue to use my G4 and ripped DVDs to stream my movies…

  6. If apple announced tomorrow that customers were able to opt in to a “all you can eat” subscription program for 8.99 a month via apple TV I would be all over it. My family watches A LOT of movies. We rent them in HD when that option is available, but we do not mind watching them in “near DVD” quality. I honestly think this Netflix box is a great idea, and I agree with a lot of the gizmodo article. I love my apple tv, but it is getting rather costly (60-80$/month). I was doing the whole netflix rip and watch later but I prefer to be legal rather than in a grey area. What I am getting at here is that sure the technology is a bit behind, and sure the movies are older, BUT I would use this product a lot and I think that many other consumers would/will do the same.

  7. I’m guessing there aren’t any accounting majors in room? The Netflix subscription is referred to as a “sunk cost”. It’s pre-existing and in this case, also pays for another service (i.e. receiving dvd’s, new and old releases, via U.S. mail). If you’re already shelling out the monthly fee, buying the Roku box simply adds another service for a flat $99, which you amortize over the life of the service. If you only use it for a year, it’s $8.25 a month. If you use it for two years is $4.12 a month. Cheap by any standard.

    $99 for the Roku box is roughly the price of cable for one month, which delivers the vast majority of it’s content in 480.

    Sorry to be the contrarian here but this product is an economic winner in my estimation, especially if you’d like to tell the cable company to take a flying leap.

  8. When they say, “unlimited”, how many movies are included? And, are they just “old” or are they B-catalog and worse?

    I mean cable has plenty of movie channels so you can watch 24/7, but they repeat over and over with both old and B-catalog films. Why should we pay more when you pay already for cable?

  9. I can see some benefits to this. I think NetFlix is a fantastic service. Unfortunately, being a Mac home, I have been unable to take advantage of their streaming service. This adds additional value to the $8.99 a month I pay for DVD/Blu-Ray rentals.

    Of course, what I’d rather see is a) NetFlix supporting Mac/Safari from their streaming service and b) AppleTV to include a fully-functioning Safari browser to allow access to NetFlix, Hulu.com, etc.

  10. AppleTV needs to catch up in two main areas:

    “With standard RCA jacks, S-video, component video, HDMI, and optical audio, the Player will work with virtually any TV, AV receiver, or home theater system.”

    and

    “Access a growing library of over 10,000 instant movies and TV episodes”.

    Note – the Roku doesn’t have a hard drive, so expect lots of skipping.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.