Netflix streaming multimedia players are heating up with HD content. Folk at Roku has revealed plan, at its public discussion forum, to deliver Netflix movies in HD by the end of year. Joining the recently announced Xbox 360, the soon-to-update Roku player will be the next Netflix Networked streaming player to support HD content.
In what would seem at first glance a surprising move, Roku have opened up their Netflix Player box to tinkerers by releasing the GPL code for the Linux-based download device. It turns out that the DRM decoding is all handled by the NXP PNX8935 chip, probably satisfying any of Netflix's concerns that opening the box up would potentially impinge on their copyright responsibilities.
Netflix are pretty much synonymous with mail-delivery films in the US, and the company is now trying to do the same for internet-streamed media. The Netflix Player by Roku is the first piece of hardware promising to bring download movies to your TV, and going by the launch-day reviews it sounds like they've got a winner on their hands. $99.99 gets you a compact set-top box that, when linked to your online Netflix account, lets you play from the company's 10,000 strong catalogue of titles, automatically selecting the highest resolution your broadband can support.
Saturday is a day for putting ones feet up on a small, raised stool, supping from a glass of slightly warmed cinnamon milk and listening to the latest in Czech talk-radio; Roku have obviously known this for years, which is why they're taking advantage of that wireless network you've set up (you have got one, haven't you?) to stream music around your house with the SoundBridge. Starting with the essentials of an alarm clock (in fact an atomic one, so you need never set the time) and remote control, Roku have added a clear display, presets to your favourite playlists and radio stations and a full stereo speaker pair with subwoofer. There's even a SD/MMC card slot for loading music direct. Hottech TV like the SoundBridge so much that they've made a video about it; check it out below.
Streaming video is a proven winner, and just about everyone is getting in on the cable-cutting. Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Fire Stick, Apple TV, Chromecast, and Android TV all vie for a place behind or next to your TV. All do about the same thing, too, in feeding you content via Netflix or a similar service. A new app on Google Play suggests Android TV may be trying to distance itself from the pack by offering up live content. Whether or not that will work is another matter entirely.
After revamping their mobile website, we wondered when the Vimeo mobile app would get some needed attention. More to the point, we wanted to know if it would see Chromecast support any time soon. In their attempt to keep pace with other video services, Vimeo has overlooked one key component that could keep us coming back in Chromecast. Today, Vimeo promises that Chromecast support is coming. To at least one of their services. At some point. They just don’t know when.
Yesterday, Starbucks announced they’d be launching a program in Portland to allow customers to order and pay in the app. Being a resident of Portland, my immediate reaction was one of disbelief (we typically don’t get opportunities like this), then curiosity. Is ordering and paying for something in-app as good as it sounds, or would there be severe hiccups that would make it an experience to forget? To test Starbucks’ new program out, I ordered coffee. From my phone.
Amazon may have been late to the streaming box game with the Fire TV, but the retail behemoth isn’t letting that initial tardiness hold it back, following up with an even more affordable way to bring on-demand content to your living room. The Amazon Fire TV Stick comes in at just $39, undercutting Roku and just a few dollars more than Google’s Chromecast, and offers - in broad strokes at least - the same multimedia prospect as its more expensive sibling. At less than half the price of a Fire TV, though, have so many corners been cut as to suddenly leave Jeff Bezos’ dongle unsatisfying? Read on for the full review.
Set-top boxes are a common gadget at this point, with the most notable ones being devices like the Roku and Chromecast. Other lesser-known options are available, however, often requiring a few tech skills to get everything setup but offering more user freedom in return. The new CuBoxTV is one such item, offering users the XBMC platform alongside a tiny cube-shaped design with a variety of connectivity options and media support. CuBoxTV comes from SolidRun, which has put the device up for pre-order.
Unless you have Amazon Prime, seeing their “Instant Video” app on your Roku or other streaming device is just one big tease. Unless you sign up for the $99/year quick-shipping Prime option, Instant Video is useless. Though we’ve heard this kind of rumor before, it’s back, and from a new source. It seems Amazon may be prepping an ad-supported Instant Video layer, which would make their service free or very low-cost to use for those without Prime. The new video streaming offering is said to be part of an “overhaul” at Amazon’s media branch.