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Netflix reveals $100 Apple TV competitor

post #1 of 93
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Making good on an earlier promise, movie subscription house Netflix on Tuesday introduced the Netflix Player, a set-top-box similar to Apple TV that allows subscribers to easily stream a growing catalog of flicks to living room TV sets.

The world's largest online rental service said it developed the device in conjunction with consumer electronics maker Roku. It's available for purchase starting today and is priced at $100, considerably less than the cheapest Apple TV box which retails for $229.

Measuring 5 inches square and 2 inches high, the device ships with a 9-button remote and includes HDMI, Component Video, S-Video, Composite Video, Digital Optical Audio, and Analog Stereo Audio ports. It also offers both wired Ethernet and 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi.

By comparison, Apple's set-top-box for streaming iTunes content is 7.7 inches square by 1.1 inches high, and includes all the same ports with the exception of S-Video and Composite video. However, it offers faster 802.11n WiFi support, includes a built-in hard drive, and also streams photos, music, podcasts, and YouTube videos.

Netflix said its new player will initially offer subscribers instant access to more than 10,000 movies and TV episodes from its vast catalog of over 100,000 videos. However, subscribers will need to be enrolled in an $8.99 per month "Unlimited" monthly subscription plan in order to use the device, which does not serve up same-day as DVD releases like Apple TV.

Apple doesn't offer a movie subscription service through iTunes for use with Apple TV and instead serves up rentals on an a la carte basis with prices ranging from $2.99 for standard definition rentals to $4.99 for new HD-quality rentals with Dolby Digital sound. Netflix currently offers only standard definition streaming video and stereo sound.



Another difference between the two companies' offerings is that the Netflix device still requires users to queue up movies on a computer, which the company touts as an advancement over the direct-from-the-sofa ordering method recently enabled by Apple with the release of Apple TV: Take 2 (Review).

"The key breakthroughs of the Netflix Player are simplicity and cost," said Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings. "[It] allows consumers to use the full power of the Netflix Web site to choose movies for their instant Queue, and then automatically displays only those choices on the TV screen. That's a major improvement versus the clutter of trying to choose from 10,000 films on the TV."



Netflix said each Netflix player includes its video streaming technology, which eliminates the need for a hard disk drive. Like Apple TV, it also includes built-in connectivity for automatic software upgrades, which will keep the device current with service enhancements.
post #2 of 93
I think the AppleTV still has key advantages but it would be nice to see this progress from "hobby" status in the R&D department. I prefer being able to navigate from the TV for rentals... I also like having access to the whole digital library on my network from one location.

This will offer a decent competitor to Apple but hopefully it will inspire further innovation and more efforts on tweaking it toward perfection.
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post #3 of 93
lets see the interface, and ease of connectivity to your network hmmmm for apple users.
now if my netflix subscription allows many views per month even of the same title this could be a great system and cheaper. but the devil is in the details. if this is only pc setup then no way will i do it. time will tell and SJ will get one and try it out, maybe atv will get cheaper and more options. e.g i don't want to buy, but when i rent i should be able to view for a longer period of time, especially for my kids, they view the same barbie dvd 25 times.
i just want something simple and gives me flexibility. if netflix can give you many streams of product apple should be also able to do so. but this won't sync with my future iphone to take on trips.
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post #4 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by NOFEER View Post

lets see the interface, and ease of connectivity to your network hmmmm for apple users.
now if my netflix subscription allows many views per month even of the same title this could be a great system and cheaper. but the devil is in the details. if this is only pc setup then no way will i do it. time will tell and SJ will get one and try it out, maybe atv will get cheaper and more options. e.g i don't want to buy, but when i rent i should be able to view for a longer period of time, especially for my kids, they view the same barbie dvd 25 times.
i just want something simple and gives me flexibility. if netflix can give you many streams of product apple should be also able to do so. but this won't sync with my future iphone to take on trips.

no computer's needed for this model ... you stream your existing broadband network. no harddrive ... so no putting your home movies or old dvd's on unit to view. It is simply a box to view netflix rentable movies. also no search function from what I've read... no hd content yet. But for people who want to rent movies ... the price blows appleTV away. I love my apple TV, but $9.00 per month I will consider this also. Apple is at about 1,000 movies and they are at 10,000 movies ... apple needs to fast track selection ... that is the biggest problem with apple tv now.
post #5 of 93
Interesting stuff. It sounds like NetFlix has some good thinking on this matter.

And their entire market cap is a cool $2B. Apple could buy them with a little over 1/5th of their cash-on-hand. A fusion of Apple design (both UI and hardware) and NetFlix's market concepts, agreements, and distribution network could be interesting.
post #6 of 93
what is netflix afraid of ... this launch is not on their home page? you got to dig deep to get the info.
post #7 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by stevetim View Post

no computer's needed for this model ... you stream your existing broadband network. no harddrive ... so no putting your home movies or old dvd's on unit to view. It is simply a box to view netflix rentable movies. also no search function from what I've read... no hd content yet. But for people who want to rent movies ... the price blows appleTV away. I love my apple TV, but $9.00 per month I will consider this also. Apple is at about 1,000 movies and they are at 10,000 movies ... apple needs to fast track selection ... that is the biggest problem with apple tv now.

Computer-less ability is ideal, in my opinion. I think part of why the first rev ATV didn't do well was that it was trying to be a rigid extension of the computer rather than a device that can operate on its own.

It would have been nice if they offered a drive for caching. I have broadband but I don't think it can sustain 1.5Mbps smoothly enough to watch a movie acceptably. It looks like it precludes HD except for those that can stream a lit better than that.

I'm interested in seeing how well this works.

I plan to get an AppleTV whether or not I get the Roku device.
post #8 of 93
They cap out your queue at 500 movies and I have been hovering around that number for years. Since us Mac users cant stream are movies to our computers. I may consider this.
post #9 of 93
agreed about it being better not to be tethered to computer. I only bought the new appleTV because it does not require a computer ... yet it links to it if you want to. best of both worlds. I buy all songs and movies on appleTV instead of itunes now ... and it syncs out to the macbook and my ipod nicely. This netflix box does not replace appleTV in my mind. It will only cause me to buy the movie rentals from netflix instead of apple.

As a matter of fact I will probably hook the netflix box to my appleTV ethernet port by my TV

If I really like a movie I will still buy it on the appleTV.

I also like having the storage space on apple tv because if internet is slow or down ... you are still in business and you don't need a computer. I have about 40 movies on it now and all my songs. works great.
post #10 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tokolosh View Post

I think the AppleTV still has key advantages but it would be nice to see this progress from "hobby" status in the R&D department. I prefer being able to navigate from the TV for rentals... I also like having access to the whole digital library on my network from one location.

This will offer a decent competitor to Apple but hopefully it will inspire further innovation and more efforts on tweaking it toward perfection.

There is very little Apple can do to compete with this, since the device and service are both different from what Apple offers. First, Apple's device has a hard drive, requires no computer for the rental and has faster wireless. Add those items and the two boxes would be relatively competitive in price. Second, this service is at present a money loser for NetFlix and only offers catalogue items. It is predicted that as this service becomes more established it will erode NetFlix's profits. so there is a bit of a bait and switch here. These prices can't last.

Yes, Apple needs to beef up it's library. It would be great to have access to 10,000 library titles. But these devices are aimed squarely at different audiences. Apple's device, with it's HD capabilities and it's superior wireless connection, it's internal storage and it's access to a library of new releases is aimed at those who want to own and rent, who have HD televisions and who want to see new movies. The NetFlix service is aimed at people who are interested in watching older films and don't care about HD but have a very fast internet connection with a really good wireless router. I'm not sure who those people are but the image in my head is older (55+) film buffs who don't want to spend the money for a new TV.
post #11 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by Obi-Wan Kubrick View Post

They cap out your queue at 500 movies and I have been hovering around that number for years. Since us Mac users cant stream are movies to our computers. I may consider this.

You can stream via iTunes, but not in the standard way. Purchase, and as it downloads, double click on the download. It will play what it has downloaded. It is the advantage of instant streaming, but it sits for further viewing on your hard drive for a day in rental mode, or forever in buy mode

much smarter system. You get the choice here, not netflix.
post #12 of 93
But Netflix can't do all the other stuff..... music, photos, video, YouTube? I like the convenience of being able to control all of it through one interface.
post #13 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by strask View Post

It seems clear to me that film studios are allowing NetFlix a pricing structure that they would never grant to Apple, probably in an effort to deny Apple the same sort of dominance in the on-line film business that they have in music downloads. For the life of me, I can't see how this will benefit film studios.

Yep, it's a conspiracy, C-O-N-spiracy (hopefully someone gets the "In Living Color" reference).
post #14 of 93
By comparison, Apple's set-top-box for streaming iTunes content is 7.7 inches square by 1.1 inches high, and includes all the same ports with the exception of S-Video and Composite video. However, it offers faster 802.11n WiFi support, includes a built-in hard drive, and also streams photos, music, podcasts, and YouTube videos.

What difference does it make if it is 802.11n if you aren't streaming directly to it from another computer, 802.11b is plenty fast for streaming from the internet because your internet service into the house is slower than 802.11b anyway.
post #15 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by roehlstation View Post

By comparison, Apple's set-top-box for streaming iTunes content is 7.7 inches square by 1.1 inches high, and includes all the same ports with the exception of S-Video and Composite video. However, it offers faster 802.11n WiFi support, includes a built-in hard drive, and also streams photos, music, podcasts, and YouTube videos.

What difference does it make if it is 802.11n if you aren't streaming directly to it from another computer, 802.11b is plenty fast for streaming from the internet because your internet service into the house is slower than 802.11b anyway.

FiOS is getting pretty popular in a lot of places. I got mine in a package deal at 20Mbps down, 5Mbps up. That's about 4x the typical bandwidth of 802.11b, and about the same as the typical 802.11g throughput. Only 802.11n can exceed the max FiOS residential service offering of 30Mbps down, 15Mbps up.
post #16 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by Booga View Post

FiOS is getting pretty popular in a lot of places. I got mine in a package deal at 20Mbps down, 5Mbps up. That's about 4x the typical bandwidth of 802.11b, and about the same as the typical 802.11g throughput. Only 802.11n can exceed the max FiOS residential service offering of 30Mbps down, 15Mbps up.

I doubt any internet movie service is is going to take advantage of those speeds in the next few years.
post #17 of 93
Odd that no one simply provided a link.

http://www.roku.com/netflixplayer/

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post #18 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by strask View Post

There is very little Apple can do to compete with this, since the device and service are both different from what Apple offers. First, Apple's device has a hard drive, requires no computer for the rental and has faster wireless. Add those items and the two boxes would be relatively competitive in price. Second, this service is at present a money loser for NetFlix and only offers catalogue items. It is predicted that as this service becomes more established it will erode NetFlix's profits. so there is a bit of a bait and switch here. These prices can't last.

It doesn't look like Roku's Netflix box needs a computer. I don't think the faster wireless makes the device do its job any better.

I don't see anything that suggests that it's truly a money loser. It might be, but it looks like it's $9 above the cost of a subscription plan, so you're talking at least $14 a month, $14 is assuming you can use the cheapest plan + internet rentals.

Quote:
Originally Posted by strask View Post

Yes, Apple needs to beef up it's library. It would be great to have access to 10,000 library titles. But these devices are aimed squarely at different audiences. Apple's device, with it's HD capabilities and it's superior wireless connection, it's internal storage and it's access to a library of new releases is aimed at those who want to own and rent, who have HD televisions and who want to see new movies. The NetFlix service is aimed at people who are interested in watching older films and don't care about HD but have a very fast internet connection with a really good wireless router. I'm not sure who those people are but the image in my head is older (55+) film buffs who don't want to spend the money for a new TV.

Even 10,000 barely scratches the surface. Even the difference in audience doesn't really help. I don't know where you get the impression that the age of a movie is a factor between the services. Just because there aren't many choices doesn't mean they're all new. For example, there's been about 575 Blu-Ray movies released in the US, and there are quite a few in there that are 5, 10 and even 20 years old. There's at least one black & white movie too.
post #19 of 93
You guys seem to be missing the point. If you rent more than 2 movies a month, from a cost perspective (which would seem to be most important considering that the movies are the same between the two services) the netflix box is a better deal. Apple is going to have a hard time competing with this. If you rent 4 movies a month, Netflix would charge you $8 while Apple would charge you $16. That's a big difference, especially since the apple box costs more than twice as much. Additionally, you can watch old tv seasons and other special content. You can also put tons of movies in your computer queue at a time, so for all intensive purposes you can operate it from your sofa. Apple needs to start looking into all you can eat plans for their content in addition to their current offerings or they will get left behind.
post #20 of 93
For me this is a 'so what' news story. It only allows for the existing on-demand catalog (which most folks pick over and watch everything they like within a few months)

I've got 200 movies in my queue and NONE are available for instant viewing. To me... this adds nothing. When I saw the title I got real excited until I read the details. watching on the PC alone is a pain in the butt.
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post #21 of 93
PR-Speak:

Quote:
"The key breakthroughs of the Netflix Player are simplicity and cost," said Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings. "[It] allows consumers to use the full power of the Netflix Web site to choose movies for their instant Queue, and then automatically displays only those choices on the TV screen. That's a major improvement versus the clutter of trying to choose from 10,000 films on the TV."

Translation:

Quote:
"We really want to kill the AppleTV, but we couldn't come up with a usable browsing interface to be able to browse 10,000 films from your couch, so we decided to make you browse via the website. Which, is better. Really..."

post #22 of 93
I'm surprised no one has yet bashed it's "boring design" or lack of "style" in comparison to the Apple TV

That being said, it looks like a nice addition to the party, and the price is sure to turn more than a few heads. However, I want to see the reviews first before I take the plunge.
post #23 of 93
I'm sorry but that thing is Ugly and cheap looking. I'm sorry but it doesn't do much beyond what's already available with a decent VoD seletion from your cableco.

http://practical-tech.com/entertainm...etflix-player/

sums it up nicely. Low rent ATV wannabe.
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post #24 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by Not Unlike Myself View Post

For me this is a 'so what' news story. It only allows for the existing on-demand catalog (which most folks pick over and watch everything they like within a few months)

I've got 200 movies in my queue and NONE are available for instant viewing. To me... this adds nothing. When I saw the title I got real excited until I read the details. watching on the PC alone is a pain in the butt.

It won't be "so what" for long. I can only assume that Netflix is the one providing the content for this new box, since Apple has claimed that the studios are the stumbling block for AppleTV (not providing digitized content quickly enough). Who's telling the whole truth?

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post #25 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

I doubt any internet movie service is is going to take advantage of those speeds in the next few years.

I would be interested to hear what Apple's data rates are, then. I know I can download their 2.2GB iPhone SDK from their dev site in under 20 minutes, so they do have the pipes if they wanted to allocate them.
post #26 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

It doesn't look like Roku's Netflix box needs a computer. I don't think the faster wireless makes the device do its job any better.

I don't see anything that suggests that it's truly a money loser. It might be, but it looks like it's $9 above the cost of a subscription plan, so you're talking at least $14 a month, $14 is assuming you can use the cheapest plan + internet rentals.



I don't know where you get the impression that the age of a movie is a factor between the services. Just because there aren't many choices doesn't mean they're all new. .

From the Associated Press:

"Although it's provided at no additional cost to most of Netflix's 8.2 million subscribers, the streaming service has had limited appeal so far because it doesn't include the latest movies and couldn't easily be watched on anything but a personal computer."

and:

"If anything, the streaming service is eroding Netflix's profits because the company's licensing fees are based on how frequently subscribers use it. And any customer who pays at least $8.99 per month for a DVD rental plan gets unlimited access to the streaming service."

The box doesn't require a computer but ordering the movies does. The CEO of Netflix says the device "allows consumers to use the full power of the Netflix Web site to choose movies for their instant Queue, and then automatically displays only those choices on the TV screen. That's a major improvement versus the clutter of trying to choose from 10,000 films on the TV."
post #27 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by strask View Post

From the Associated Press:

"Although it's provided at no additional cost to most of Netflix's 8.2 million subscribers, the streaming service has had limited appeal so far because it doesn't include the latest movies and couldn't easily be watched on anything but a personal computer."

and:

"If anything, the streaming service is eroding Netflix's profits because the company's licensing fees are based on how frequently subscribers use it. And any customer who pays at least $8.99 per month for a DVD rental plan gets unlimited access to the streaming service."

The box doesn't require a computer but ordering the movies does. The CEO of Netflix says the device "allows consumers to use the full power of the Netflix Web site to choose movies for their instant Queue, and then automatically displays only those choices on the TV screen. That's a major improvement versus the clutter of trying to choose from 10,000 films on the TV."

So the real question is... are the studios secretly subsidizing this? If it didn't make business sense for Netflix to pursue this, they simply wouldn't do it because their shareholders would revolt.

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post #28 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by Booga View Post

I would be interested to hear what Apple's data rates are, then. I know I can download their 2.2GB iPhone SDK from their dev site in under 20 minutes, so they do have the pipes if they wanted to allocate them.

My point is more that it's not necessary given the existing material. You want to have a comfortable speed margin above the data rate used by the video to be able to watch it as it downloads or streams, but after a certain point, it doesn't make any difference.
post #29 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

However, subscribers will need to be enrolled in an $8.99 per month "Unlimited" monthly subscription plan in order to use the device,


Are people interpretting this statement to mean there is $9 premium on using the dvice each month? My read, based on the grammar and their previous pricing model before the device available, is that all you need to do is make a one-time purchase of the box, then use the service for free each month as a feature of your existing qualifying plan. Thoughts?
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post #30 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZagMac View Post

Sorry ...I'm reading AI quickly while I should be working)

The rest of us here would never do something like that. Now, get back to work!

Cough. Cough.
post #31 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by NOFEER View Post

...my kids, they view the same barbie dvd 25 times.

I feel your pain.
post #32 of 93
There is no doubt that Apple TV is a better all around box, with HD and many other features the Netflix box can't match... However, all that will be overlooked by the masses if Apple can't put together a similar pricing structure.. They really need an all you can watch subscription type service. Despite the convenience of Apple TV, $4.99 is pretty steep for a 24 hour HD rental when there are unlimited plans available. Even if it means waiting for a Blu-Ray rental to arrive in the mail.
post #33 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZagMac View Post

Are people interpretting this statement to mean there is $9 premium on using the dvice each month? My read, based on the grammar and their previous pricing model before the device available, is that all you need to do is make a one-time purchase of the box, then use the service for free each month as a feature of your existing qualifying plan. Thoughts?
(Sorry if I missed someone catching this already...I'm reading AI quickly while I should be working)

I could be wrong, but I'm under the impression that you buy the $99 box, then pay $8.99/month for this service, in addition to your "unlimited" rentals plan. Their web site mentions that instant view choices would 'not interfere' with your DVD rental plan.

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post #34 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

I could be wrong, but I'm under the impression that you buy the $99 box, then pay $8.99/month for this service, in addition to your "unlimited" rentals plan. Their web site mentions that instant view choices would 'not interfere' with your DVD rental plan.


That is incorrect... Netflix unlimited plans already offer unlimited streaming downloads to a PC (not a Mac) in addition to your 2,3 or 4 physical movies... Purchasing this box just allows you to watch the movies on your television instead of your pc. There is not an additional monthly charge..
post #35 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by solsun View Post

That is incorrect... Netflix unlimited plans already offer unlimited streaming downloads to a PC (not a Mac) in addition to your 2,3 or 4 physical movies... Purchasing this box just allows you to watch the movies on your television instead of your pc. There is not an additional monthly charge..

That would make this service even more attractive.

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post #36 of 93
Don't know if this has been mentioned yet. From the Roku site FAQ:

Quote:
You need at least 1.5 Mbps to watch movies instantly on The Netflix Player by Roku. The faster your connection, the better the quality. For high quality video and audio, a connection of least 4.0 Mbps is recommended.



Out of my league, that's twice my current connection speed just for the minimum, which is only VHS quality according to the FAQ.

\

And who in the USA actually gets 4Mb throughput? I used to pay out the nose for Comcast's fastest connection, and only got actual speeds of 3Mbs...
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post #37 of 93
If they want to compete with the Apple TV (or anyone else that spent a day at Industrial Design Camp), can they at least make something that doesn't look like a big pile of shit that was run over by a Peterbilt then pissed on by a group of Hell's Angels then vomited on by the psych ward from the insane asylum?

Geezus, with products having nearly the same performance characteristics as every other product, the one distinguishing feature is ID. (Netflix, that stands for Industrial Design, since it's obvious nobody at your company knows what that means.) I know Roku designed this little pygmy-loooking toaster-with-TV-outputs, but I'm sure Netflix could have at least said, "Hey, make it look a little better than my gangrene-inflicted paraplegic sister's vagina."

What a friggin' joke. I like the device, I am a Netflix subscriber, I love the Watch It Now feature, but I'm not buying this thing simply because it LOOKS LIKE SHIT. Of all the beautiful devices I have in my A-V rack, the aesthetic (or lack of) on this wretched contraption would collectively bring the look of my entire living room down to the pit of ugly-hell this mutant box inhabits.
post #38 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

I could be wrong, but I'm under the impression that you buy the $99 box, then pay $8.99/month for this service, in addition to your "unlimited" rentals plan. Their web site mentions that instant view choices would 'not interfere' with your DVD rental plan.

Just ordered 4 of these for family members. Roku website states you buy the palyer from them for $99, then pay the monthly subscription fee to Netflix of $8.99, which also included 1 DVD rental at a time/unlimited per month.

This is smokin!
post #39 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

So the real question is... are the studios secretly subsidizing this? If it didn't make business sense for Netflix to pursue this, they simply wouldn't do it because their shareholders would revolt.

My guess, yeah. the studios have probably cut a short term deal at a favorable rate to get a player in the market that isn't Apple. Either that or NetFlix is willing to lose a lot of money to get this thing going.
post #40 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by strask View Post

My guess, yeah. the studios have probably cut a short term deal at a favorable rate to get a player in the market that isn't Apple. Either that or NetFlix is willing to lose a lot of money to get this thing going.


Netflix has been offering this unlimited streaming service to a PC for over a year now. The only difference is today a box was released that will stream it to your tv.
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