After making an announcement ages ago, Blockbuster has finally launched its movie rental service via set-top boxes. Since word got out about the box and service, the only other option was to have DVDs delivered to your home, Netflix style, or to download movies and TV shows online. Now, with Blockbuster’s set-top box, you can snag movies with its OnDemand service whenever you want. The box is free if you pre-pay for 25 movies at the cost of $99, and while that sounds expensive, you wouldn’t be getting the box and service if you weren’t going to be watching a ton of movies, anyway – right? The set-top box works wirelessly and manages to deliver DVD quality to your screen, so if HD is an absolute must you’re pretty much out of luck with this one for now. If you’re a movie fiend and you have to have the latest hits from Hollywood, you’re still better off with the Blockbuster service as Netflix seems to be having a shortage of those movies lately. Anyone going to pick one of these up for the holidays?
While we sincerely doubt this to be the push Roku needs to become more, how should we put this, significant – Roku owners and potential buyers alike just got some great news. The Roku Netflix player, a $99 set top box packing that allows you stream Netflix downloads to your TV, has three announcements of varied interest coming down the pipe in the near future. First and foremost, HD. Roku will gain access to the entirety of Netflix’s HD library by the end of the year, though it is unclear exactly what kind of speeds we’ll see in terms of downloads. Next up, a sexy new 720p user interface that will obviously be capable of displaying more titles at a time. Lastly, a bit of a mystery to keep things exciting. Roku has stated the upcoming new release will also “include another major new feature that you’ll have to wait a bit longer to learn about.” Roku’s Netflix box already has optical and HDMI connections ready and waiting to feed Netflix’s HD content to your flat panel, so this news shouldn’t be much of a surprise. Let’s just hope the updates come sooner rather than later so Roku’s Netflix Player might make it to a few tech savvy holiday shopping lists.
Early last month we told you about this beauty of a Blu-ray player by LG. Affordability, sexiness and the added joy of being able to stream Netflix downloads to your TV make it tough to deny the BG300. Well people, it just got a little bit tougher. LG’s Netflix-streaming Blu-ray player is now officially available for pre-order from Circuit City and the already-attractive price is $50 lower than we all thought. Scheduled to start shipping next Friday, the BD300 is up on Circuit City’s site for $349.99. It is also available for pre-order on Amazon’s site but at the original $400 price point. Aside from being $50 more expensive compared to the Circuit City price, Amazon’s BD300 page also states an estimated ship date between two and five months. Umm, yeah – we’re going to have to go with Circuit City on this one.
Have you really not jumped into the set top box game yet? Remember how you made fun of your parents until they ditched their VCR and bought a DVD player – well we’re getting pretty close to the point in time where people are going to be laughing at you in the same way. For those of you who have been teetering, Vudu may have just given you the push you needed. From now until December 31 of this year, customers who purchase a new Vudu box from Best Buy ($300) will receive a $200 credit to be used on Vudu content. Of course there are a few stipulations, most notably is the fact that the credit must be used within four months and that it cannot be used on adult content. In other words, the box is now a very affordable $100 until the end of the year. What’s more, Vudu has just announced the addition of 1080p HD content so all you High Definition fiends out there will have something to chew on. As of now there are about 65 1080p titles to choose from but Vudu will be adding more titles moving forward. In fact, all new movies that become available in 720p will also be available in 1080p from now on. What’s more, 1080p content will be priced exactly the same as Vudu’s current HD content (720p downloads are between $4 and $6). These two new announcements might just be what Vudu needed to get bumped right up to the top of your holiday list.
Plenty of awesome-looking gear was flaunted at the CEDIA expo this past week and wallets will soon be shrinking all around the country as a result. From $35,000 70-inch plasmas to, well, just about everything else you would ever want to stuff into your home theater, gear fans around the globe are drooling over the releases to come over the next few months. Several announcements have caught our eye so far, and one of them is the little beauty pictured above. First announced at CES this past year, the LG BD300 might just be the Blu-ray player you’ve been waiting for – if you’ve been waiting for a new player that is. Forget about the 1080p Blu-ray video compatibility and the DVD upconverting (ok don’t completely forget about that), this little demon will also replace your current set top box and allow you to stream Netflix downloads to your TV. If you’re a Netflix customer who has been waiting to find the right Blu-ray player, you probably just found it. If you’re a Blockbuster Total Access customer who has been getting more and more annoyed as they increase prices and remove benefits, you probably just found a good reason to make the switch. Of note, the BD300 will ship with BD-Profile 1.1 and the company claims that firmware updates will be fast and painless in the event the spec changes five minutes after you buy the player. This makes sense of course, since the unit is always connected via Ethernet. The LG BD300 will become available in October and will carry a relatively easy to swallow price tag of $399.
Tivo owners will be happy to learn that starting today and continuing over the next few weeks, TiVo will be rolling out a new version of their software. And as the post title and video above would suggest, version 9.4 of TiVo’s software brings with it a healthy dose of YouTube love. That’s right people, YouTube on your TiVo. No, YouTube videos aren’t going to look overly spectacular on your 60″ plasma screen, but at least you don’t have to get off the couch anymore every time you want to rewatch that Wii hula-hoop girl video. You’ll need a newer Series3 model to enjoy YouTube however, as the YouTube integration marks the first time that TiVo is using a codec other than MPEG-2 (they’re indeed using H.264) and older models don’t support additional codecs. As for other new goodies in the latest software version, at the end of the video above you can get a quick look at the new SDV Tuning Adapter support as well as the presence of TCP Remote support.
In the quest to reign the world of home entertainment streaming, partnering with Microsoft to provide your movie download service on Xbox 360 is definitely a good move. In fact, it’s a safe bet that a good percentage of potential set top box owners are already packing an Xbox 360 and for these guys you’re practically a shoo in. Netflix, of course, is the lucky winner here. Showcased at a Microsoft roundtable event held yesterday, Netflix’s Xbox 360 streaming service was actually quite impressive. Movies and TV episodes added to the Netflix queue (this still has to be done on a PC for now) become available on the Xbox 360 almost instantly and playback is controlled with the same familiar navigational elements used during DVD and video playback. As Netflix continues to expand its streamable library beyond the 10,000 movies and TV episodes already present, this partnership with Microsoft is going to help their service tremendously. Once it launches, the Netflix on Xbox 360 service will require a Gold level Xbox-Live subscription.