Roku announced Monday that its Internet video player is able to play back HD titles available through Netflix's on-demand streaming feature, which currently offers a selection of about 300 high-definition titles.
The $99 Roku Internet video player requires at least a 1.2-Mbps connection to watch movies instantly, and the company recommends a connection of least 2.5 Mbps for high-quality video. Customers must subscribe to one of Netflix's unlimited DVD-rental plans to access the Internet-streaming feature.
Netflix vice president of corporate communications Steve Swasey said the company "has a decidedly underwhelming offering of about 300 titles to stream in high-def," which he noted lack multichannel audio.
"Eventually Netflix will add more HD titles for streaming and eventually they will play in [Dolby] 5.1 sound," he said, "but for now, it's more of a stake in the ground."
Other Netflix-enabled devices able to play HD content include TiVo HD digital video recorders and Microsoft's Xbox 360 gaming consoles.
Meanwhile, Roku said it expects to provide access to HD content from other providers in the first quarter of 2009. The new software that enables HD playback will be automatically delivered to all Roku players "over the course of the next few weeks," the company said.
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