Last week Engadget reported that the XBox 360’s support for Netflix streaming would include a limited amount of HD content too – initially around 300 titles – prompting many to ask if High Def content would also make its way onto Roku’s Netflix set-top box.
Dan Rayburn quickly followed up to confirm that, despite the lack of an official company announcement, Roku’s hardware was at least technically capable of streaming Netflix in HD, leading to speculation that Netflix HD streaming could be a Microsoft exclusive, for the time being anyway.
Hacking Netflix points to a reply posted in Roku’s official support forum from a company employee confirming that Netflix HD support will arrive on Roku’s set-top box by “end of year”. The posting includes a few additional details:
- Roku will be using Advanced Profile encodes which will deliver HD at substantially lower bit-rates than what Xbox is offering
- The number of titles is up to Netflix but the library will be the same as or larger than the Xbox library
- The UI will be updated to run in 720p and more covers will be visible on the screen at a time
- And the release will include another major new feature that you’ll have to wait a bit longer to learn about
What that “major new feature” is, nobody knows for sure. My guess would be support for a second online video service, possibly Hulu, which unlike Netflix doesn’t require a paid-for subscription. Were that to happen then Roku’s set-top box would suddenly be a lot more attractive to consumers, widening its potential market way beyond current or future Netflix subscribers.