The long-awaited Netflix box is finally here, with Roku, better known for making streaming music hardware the first hardware partner to release their product on to the market.
The box, which is available now from the Roku website, costs just $100 and allows users to stream movies and television from Netflix to their TV using the Instant Viewing feature.
Users install the box by hooking it up to their TV sets using composite, component video cables, HDMI or S-Video and then connecting it to their Wi-Fi network or via an Ethernet cable hooked to the box.
Set-up is simple, and as long as your broadband connection is strong and consistent, the picture quality is good, and streaming is aid to be almost, but not quite, lag-free.
An HD Future
High Definition video isn’t currently an option, but the box can handle them, and they are promised to be offered in the future. For now, those who insist on HD should stick to Apple TV or Vudu.
So assuming you’ve paid out the $100 asking price, which is very chap compared to some of the competition, and paid the $8.95 minimum Netflix plan (if you’re already on an unlimited Netflix plan, the content is free) what do you get?
Current Lack Of Content
Although Netflix offers a 100,000 plus library of content, because of the lack of streaming licenses, only about 10% of that is currently available through the set-top box.
Sure, that 10,000 strong library beats most of the streaming competition, but there is an earth of new and in-demand content currently available through the service.
This means most of the content on the service is already available to watch via Hulu, although Tim Twerdahl, Vice President of consumer products for Roku has promised the range of content will improve over time.
A Bargain, If and When?
The box is small enough to sit nonchalantly in your TV cabinet, and the $100 asking price seems to be a snip even for the content currently available.
If and when the amount of content rises to be more in line with the whole Netflix library, and the HD streams come online, this could and should be an Apple TV killer.
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