First, consumers got the $99 Roku box that lets them stream movies from DVD rental service Netflix directly to their television sets via a broadband connection.
Then came other boxes like game console Xbox 360 and LG Blu-ray DVD players that provide a similar Roku-like functionality.
Now things have gotten even better with LG Electronics announcing Broadband HDTVs that come with the Netflix service built into the device. This means you won’t need a separate device in your home theatre.
The LG plasma and LCD Broadband HDTVs with the Netflix functionality are expected to roll out in the spring.
LG did not disclose pricing for the new TVs.
LG already offers a Blu-ray Disc Player (BD300 Network ) that lets users stream movies instantly from Netflix.
Of course, you have to be on a Netflix monthly plan of $8.99 or more to be able to stream movies and TV episodes.
LG Electronics and Netflix plan to demonstrate the new Broadband HDTVs this week at the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (booth #8214, Central Hall, Las Vegas Convention Center).
Tiny Roku was the first to bring the Netflix service to the television set in the second quarter of last year.
We’ve been using the Roku box to stream Netflix movies to our Samsung LCD TV via a secured Wi-Fi connection for over six months and we’re quite happy with the quality but not the quantity (more on that later).
Roku lets you use a wired or wireless Internet connection. Setup of the Roku box is a snap and you can get going in just a few minutes.
Netflix’ Anemic Instant Play Content
Despite all the hoopla of instant streaming of Netflix content directly to TVs via the Internet, the content available for Instant Play is very limited.
From a catalog of 100,000 DVDs, Netflix offers a mere 12,000 movies/TV episodes for Instant Play.
The Instant Play picture looks even worse when you consider that only eight of the selections from Netflix Top 100 are available for instant viewing. That’s definitely a no-no.
And if you are a Bollywood or Kollywood fan, the picture is even more pathetic.
While Netflix has a huge selection of Bollywood and Kollywood DVDs, only a handful are available for instant viewing. And the ones that are available are really old junk like Door Ki Awaz (1964), Dus Lakh (1966) andÂ Ek Mahal Ho Sapno Ka (1975).
Another thing to keep in mind is how cablecos like Comcast and telcos like Verizon will respond to Netflix-like services. Because the more time you spend watching Netflix on your TV, you obviously spend less time watching the Comcast cable or Verizon FiOS channels.
With broadband penetration still pitiful in India (officially five million and with usage caps), it’s unlikely we’ll be seeing anything noteworthy happening there along the lines of Netflix direct to TV sets via high-speed Internet connection in USA.
In any case, Netflix is not in India (as far as we can tell) and we doubt that the Netflix clones have similar capabilities.