Roku Steps Up Their Netflix Game

Dave Zatz —  May 5, 2010 — 11 Comments

As the first Netflix-enabled set-top device (spun off from NFLX), it comes as no surprise that Roku ($99) will be their first partner to bring the entirety of Netflix’s streaming catalog to the 10′ interface. Instead of merely browsing your queue (TiVo), or top genre selections if you’re lucky (Xbox), come June, Roku will allow us to browse, search, queue up, or play every title found within Netflix’s streaming catalog… from within a brand spanking new UI (above). And those of you pining for a QWERTY Roku remote to take advantage of the upcoming search functionality need look no further than this iPhone app ($.99), which provides automated text entry.

Some of the more sophisticated Netflix streaming implementations utilize Flash locally, yet moles suggest Roku’s solution is server-based – and the company has indeed confirmed it isn’t implemented in Flash. In addition to this jazzed up Netflix UI, I also expect we’ll also see a refreshed Roku dashboard in the near future to better accomodate their growing number of content partners.

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11 responses to Roku Steps Up Their Netflix Game

  1. Updating the dashboard is one of the comments I have been making in the Roku forums for awhile. As more channels as added, the linear style layout takes away from the user experience. I’m hoping they take cues from the Netflix UI when they update.

    Another feature the Roku DVP is in desperate need of is a viewable timeline. It is inconvenient to have to pause a movie to see the elapsed or time remaining. Considering the simplicity of the remote (which I love), the easiest implementation would be to use the down button on the direction pad, similar to how appleTV (another stripped down remote) does it.

  2. Just an FYI regarding the DVPRemote app. The app also works with the iPad, although it has yet to be optimized for the iPad. However, I have been in touch with the developer in the Roku forums and he indicated he was looking to update the app after he got his 3G iPad.

  3. Dave, I don’t see anything in that video that can’t already be done with the PS3 Netflix disc. You must not have been paying attention when they added search functionality a while back, but it is awesome.

  4. Hm, it was my understanding the PS3 was similar to the 360 in that they present like the top titles in select genres to browse but no text search of the entire library. I thought they were testing it at one point, but didn’t know it was live… Are you sure? I have the Netflix PS3 disc here, but I no longer have a PS3. (WMC7 offers text search, but I was referring to more traditional STBs.) Hm. :)

  5. I don’t know if the search covers the entire library, however, I just fired up the PS3 (I never use it for Netflix), and it does sport the search feature.

  6. In that case, I stand corrected! :)

  7. I believe the search feature for the PS3 was being tested by the Netflix marketing dept to see how users handle it and use it. AFAIK the search feature hasn’t been rolled out to all PS3 users.

  8. Very glad to see some puff back in Roku’s chest. Things have been a bit too quiet for them.
    Maybe we can get a few more channels added after this works out.

  9. Windows Media Center was the first to enable complete access to Netflix — browse the entire Netflix library, access and add to queues (instant and snail mail). In my experience, anything you can do via PC you can do via WMC interface. One of the only things that WMC has done better than the other guys to date. Of course it wouldn’t last!

  10. Now that Roku has updated their software interface, maybe they should fix their power supply problems. Hardware flaws make for mad customers.

  11. I had a Roku box failure, no led light on front panel and no display on my TV. The unit was dead. I suspected the power supply and measured the power supply output voltage at the connector. The voltage was 5.6Volts, which looked OK. I Emailed Roku support giving the details of my problem and received a response from “Mary” expressing concern about my “important” problem. After several with Email exchanges with “Mary” and others at Roku support, I was told to buy a new box, since mine was out of warranty. I bought a new box, but decided to see if I could fix the defective one. After prying the lid off the Roku box, I measured the power supply voltage inside the box. It was only 2.5 volts, which indicated a bad power supply or an overload due to a box failure. I tried a substitute supply and the Roku box worked fine. I opened the power supply by sawing along the joint on the case and found a bad output capacitor, 680 MFD 16 V. After replacement of the capacitor the power supply worked fine and I am back in business with the old Roku box. I am telling this story in order to help others with this problem. I find from searching the Internet that problems like the one described above are very common. Roku support should have given me proper guidance, as they are surely aware from a great many customer complaints that this is a common problem. I wonder how many Roku boxes they have sold because of Roku support’s poor advice. It is really a shame that a company with a great product like the Roku box cannot provide decent support.
    Don Gallagher

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