August 21, 2009, 8:07 AM — I have to admit to feeling a twinge of envy when the Xbox 360 got improved Netflix Watch Now browsing in its latest update. Although I own a 360, I prefer to use my Roku Digital Video Player for watching Netflix. Why? First, it's silent, while the Xbox 360 has a fan, and since I have an early model 360, the fan is rather loud. Second, the Roku is always-on. I don't have to wait through a boot up sequence and logging in to Xbox Live. And lastly, as a semi-dedicated device (it also streams Amazon's Video-on-Demand and baseball from MLB.com) the interface is clean and simple.
Well now I, and other Roku enthusiasts (and I make no claim to objectivity; I'm a bona fide Roku fanboy) can rejoice as it sounds like Roku is redesigning their Netflix interface to be more in-line with that of the Xbox 360. The news comes from two sources. First, from their latest newsletter:
In addition, Netflix is in the process of developing new features that will enable you to browse movies directly on any Netflix-ready device—including your Roku player. Stay tuned for more information.
That sounds a bit vague, but source two is the Roku Forums, where a user was asking why he should keep his Roku when the 360 offered better features. A Roku engineer responded with:
Roku does plan to integrate the same browse and add function to the Netflix experience on the Roku player. We do not have an ETA on exactly when this will happen yet.
And as long as we're talking Roku, the same newsletter pointed out that the little box now supports 5.1 surround sound for some Amazon Video-on-Demand content (which content depends on Amazon). Of course this will require a digital audio connection (either HDMI or optical audio) from your Roku to your home theater receiver.
Now they just have to start selling t-shirts that say "I <3 my Roku" and we'll be all set.