Posted by: Cliff Edwards on March 3, 2009
Roku’s Video Player and Amazon’s Video on Demand service hope to make beautiful pictures together.
For those who didn’t think there was enough goodness in Roku’s $99 streaming video box, which offered a selection of mostly back-catalog titles from video subscription service Netflix, the company just updated its box to add some 40,000 movies and TV shows from Amazon.
Unlike Netflix, where you have to use your computer to populate the list of streaming titles you see on the Roku player, the Amazon service loads all the titles up in easy to browse categories. Like Netflix, you do need to use the computer at least once, to associate the box with your Amazon account and assign a credit card number for rentals and purchases.
I tried out the beta service over the weekend and found it still wasn’t as easy as I would have liked. There wasn’t a way to search quickly for a specific title. And standard-definition content didn’t look particularly great on a high-definition TV. Roku says the box is capable of streaming 1080i content when it is available (though the caveat is that you’d need an extremely fast Internet connection to do so).
And since the box is capable of streaming only, Amazon stores all your purchases on its servers. That means you’ll always need an Internet connection to retrieve video you paid for.
Despite it’s flaws, the Roku player seems to be well on its way to eliminating altogether the need to watch TVs and movies the old way. With a couple of clicks of the remote, users now have access to an extensive back catalog of older titles and many new releases available on Amazon’s service.
A la carte pricing may be a bother to some, but ultimately the model could challenge cable and satellite TV’s ever-more expensive monthly subscriptions.