May 20, 2008

Technology - skip the DVD by mail and download direct

roku_dvd.jpg Preparing for the eventual extinction of its DVD-by-mail rental service, Netflix Inc. on Tuesday is introducing its first solution for subscribers who want entertainment delivered directly to their television sets with just a few clicks on a remote control.

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The breakthrough comes in the form of 5-inch-by-5-inch device tailored for a year-old service that uses high-speed Internet connections to stream more than 10,000 movies and TV shows from Netflix's library.

Although it is 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 could not easily be watched on anything but a personal computer.

At $99.99, the Netflix set-top box is priced like a DVD player and is as simple to hook up to a television. A high-speed Internet connection can either be plugged into the box or the device can pick up a wireless signal.

Although the streaming device bears the Netflix brand, it's the brainchild of Roku's founder and CEO, Anthony Wood. After temporarily leaving his startup to work on the streaming device as a Netflix employee, Mr. Wood returned to Roku earlier this year. At that point, Netflix paid $6 million for an undisclosed stake in Saratoga-based Roku. Several other former Netflix employees also work at Roku.

Posted by staff at May 20, 2008 12:45 PM