Roku users: second class citizens

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.


Roku has come out with a note on the Roku user forum about Netflix and HD quality:

  • Roku will be delivering Netflix in HD by the end of the year
  • Roku will be using Advanced Profile encodes which will deliver HD at substantially lower bit-rates than what Xbox is offering
  • The number of titles is up to Netflix but the library will be the same as or larger than the Xbox library
  • The UI will be updated to run in 720p and more covers will be visible on the screen at a time
  • And the release will include another major new feature that you’ll have to wait a bit longer to learn about

Though I was happy to hear that Netflix is finally rolling out HD content, I was astonished to read Netflix’s decision to roll it out for the brand new XBox, rather than the existing Roku users. Evidently, Netflix considers the early Netflix box users to be second class citizens, and would rather put its focus on the newer, shinier customer—the XBox user.

I had been recommending Roku boxes as a Christmas gift idea, but I can’t recommend the box any longer. Roku promised extra content, outside of Netflix, earlier thia summer, and has not delivered, yet. Roku also promised an SDK earlier this summer, and has not delivered it yet, either. Lastly, the company had promised that as soon as Netflix started streaming HD content, Roku would stream the HD content. As we can see, another promise undelivered, though this one does not seem to be Roku’s fault.

Considering that Netflix is an investor in Roku, one has to wonder what the heck is going on between these companies. In the meantime, promises are going undelivered. Until we’re given assurances that all of the earlier promises will be met, and that Netflix is still as committed to Roku users, as it is to every other box user, I can’t recommend the Roku.

Now, CNET is saying that everyone will get HD quality, but that the requirements are 8-10GB download speeds! (I’m assuming the author meant 8-10Mbps, not GB, but who knows…)

Netflix is calling this a “soft launch” since it is only rolling out such a small number of videos for HD streaming. The move mostly serves to stake a claim in the HD streaming market as opposed to being a full offering. Contrary to what others are reporting, HD streaming will be available on all streaming devices when it premieres with the New Xbox Experience. That means that the Roku, LG, and Samsung boxes will all be able to stream these HD movies, in addition to the Xbox 360. The PC and Mac based versions of Netflix, will not, however, be able to stream HD immediately. In addition, streaming in HD will require a large amount of bandwidth. Netflix estimates the requirement being in the 8-10 Gbps range.

Considering that 8-10Mbps exceeds the download speeds for a majority of broadband users, in addition to exceeding requirements for every other HD streaming server online, I have to wonder if this isn’t an error.

This whole thing has been badly managed. Press release by rumor rarely works well.


AppleTV update

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Now that’s the ticket…Apple has released its anticipated AppleTV update. I’m installing now, as I write this.

Among the changes are support for HD TV shows, of course, but also Genius playlists, as well as being able to put the machine into Standby mode using Settings, rather than having to hold and press the Play button. This is comparable with being able to put an iPod into Standby via a menu option rather than esoteric button/time combination.

Apple also added support for music videos. I have a couple, which I’ll have to move over to the machine, see how they do.

Other than that, no, Steve Jobs did not have a heart attack. I can’t believe how gullible the online world is, to accept the word of some anonymous commenter in a CNN any-hack-can-post site. Is “fact check” old fashioned? CNN’s any-hack-can-post site states with pride that the material is Unedited. Unfilterd. News. I guess two our three is good enough for CNN.

Interesting, though, how tightly Apple shares are tied into Jobs. He needs to take a lesson from Bill Gates and work to ensure that the company does survive his death. Well, unless Jobs wants Apple to be like the Viking Queen and immolate itself on his funeral pyre.


Game over?

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

From GigaOM:

There are other participants, some that are well known, like HP with its HP MediaSmart Connect, or TiVo. And some are upstarts, like Vudu, Zv, Verismo and Sezmi. But the future belongs to Amazon, Netflix or Apple. It’s still too early to tell which one will win the race to your big-screen TV, but they all have the right combination of size, recognition and content to get there.

The move to stream video to your TV from the Internet it too new to declare a winner. For instance, of the set top boxes the author of the article mentioned, he forgot a major one: your PC.

When the prices of computers drop into the 400 dollar range, and even Apple sells the Mac Mini at a reasonably affordable price, expect to see more computers hooked to TVs. Through our computers we can not only get iTunes, Unbox, and Netflix WatchNow, we can also access,, Hulu, and a host of other video streaming sites.

The opening shots in this battle have just been fired. We ain’t seen nothing yet.