Netflix reveals $100 Apple TV competitor

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 92
    tokoloshtokolosh Posts: 101member
    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.
  • Reply 2 of 92
    nofeernofeer Posts: 2,422member
    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.
  • Reply 3 of 92
    stevetimstevetim Posts: 482member
    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.
  • Reply 4 of 92
    boogabooga Posts: 1,077member
    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.
  • Reply 5 of 92
    stevetimstevetim Posts: 482member
    what is netflix afraid of ... this launch is not on their home page? you got to dig deep to get the info.
  • Reply 6 of 92
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    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.
  • Reply 7 of 92
    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.
  • Reply 8 of 92
    stevetimstevetim Posts: 482member
    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.
  • Reply 9 of 92
    straskstrask Posts: 107member
    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.
  • Reply 10 of 92
    pg4gpg4g Posts: 383member
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 92
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 19,101member
    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.
  • Reply 12 of 92
    caliminiuscaliminius Posts: 944member
    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).
  • Reply 13 of 92
    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.
  • Reply 14 of 92
    boogabooga Posts: 1,077member
    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.
  • Reply 15 of 92
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    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.
  • Reply 16 of 92
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,989member
    Odd that no one simply provided a link.



    http://www.roku.com/netflixplayer/
  • Reply 17 of 92
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    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.
  • Reply 18 of 92
    davvi28davvi28 Posts: 2member
    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.
  • Reply 19 of 92
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 92
    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..."



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