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Roku Netflix Player Will Also Do Amazon Video on Demand in "Early 2009"

Posted on Tuesday, January 6th, 2009 3:48 PM by Scott Jentsch

The Roku Netflix Player won't be a one-trick pony for long (read more about the player). Amazon.com announced yesterday that the media player will be able to purchase, rent, and watch digital movies and TV shows from the Amazon Video on Demand service starting in "early 2009."

Presumably, this will cause Roku to change the name of the player. A look at the Roku web site shows that they have indeed renamed it to the "Roku Digital Video Player," which is suitably generic for its upcoming new feature.

Amazon Video on Demand logoAccording to their web site, the Amazon Video on Demand service offers thousands of movies and TV shows online, with top new releases available the same day as DVD. I decided to check this against today's new DVD releases and recent television episodes:

TitleDVDAmazon VoD
Pineapple Express $16.99 / $22.99 Buy ($14.99)
Righteous Kill $20.49 -
Babylon A.D. $19.99 / $23.99 Rent ($3.99) and Buy ($14.99)
Bangkok Dangerous $19.99 / $23.99 Buy ($14,.99)
Disaster Movie $21.99 Buy ($9.99)
The Wackness $21.99 Buy ($14.99)
Battlestar Galactica, Season 4 $31.99 Buy ($1.99 per episode)
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (latest episode) - $1.99

So, based on this limited sampling, Amazon Video on Demand has a pretty good selection at attractive prices. The video quality of the previews was pretty good; I enlarged one to full-screen on a 1920x1200 monitor and it was acceptable from about 4 feet away (but not HD quality). While it would be nice to see more of the above titles available for rent, a Netflix membership (with Instant Watch capability that this player provides) could fill in those gaps. At the time of this post, the missing title from Amazon Video on Demand (Righteous Kill) was not available via Netflix Instant Watch, but was available on DVD and Blu-ray.

Of particular note is the fact that the only place you can seem to purchase the Roku Digital Video Player is on the roku.com web site. One would think that when this deal with Amazon goes through, that these devices will be available for sale on Amazon's site. That will definitely be something to watch when the new functionality is available.

The addition of Amazon Video on Demand capability to the Roku box helps it become more useful. For $99, it's not a huge investment, but considering that it currently only streams video from one source, its usefulness is limited. If Amazon can build up its library of recent TV shows so that it's possible to catch an episode of Law & Order that my DVR decided not to record for some reason, then we're talking a device that starts to earn its keep!

Given all the rumblings from Internet Service Providers about download limits, and the necessary limitations on the viewing experience (both video and audio quality) to make these files feasible to download, I'll take my Blu-ray discs from Netflix any day over downloads. That could change, however, given the right conditions, but it's not there yet.

The full press release appears below.

Press Release

Amazon Video on Demand Brings Customers New-Release Movies and TV Shows to the Roku Digital Video Player

Roku Adds a Convenient Way for Customers to Enjoy Movies and TV Shows from Amazon Video on Demand; Amazon Video on Demand Connects to PC, MAC, Sony Bravia Internet Video Link, TiVo, Roku and More to Come Soon

January 05, 2009 08:30 AM Eastern Time

SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) today announced that it will offer customers the ability to instantly purchase, rent and watch digital movies and TV episodes from its popular video service, Amazon Video On Demand, via the Roku Digital Video Player. Beginning in early 2009, the Roku Player, which currently supports only the Netflix service, will offer access to Amazon Video On Demand’s more than 40,000 commercial-free movies and television shows, enabling Roku customers for the first time to watch new release movie titles instantly.

With an easy-to-use interface that customers can enjoy from their couch, Amazon Video On Demand and the Roku Player will enable customers to:

  • Access and add to their virtual library of purchases via Amazon Video On Demand’s Your Video Library, and re-watch them anytime on the Roku Player or online with a PC, MAC or other compatible device.
  • Watch new release movies the same day that they are released on DVD. Hit titles such as “The Dark Knight,” “Hancock,” “Pineapple Express,” “Tropic Thunder” and hundreds more that are not currently available on the Roku Player.
  • Enjoy instant playback, no downloading, no waiting and no subscription fee.
  • Browse Amazon.com's huge selection of over 40,000 movies and TV shows for rent or purchase.
  • Enjoy Amazon Video On Demand’s high-quality video through its use of the advanced h.264 codec and an automatic bandwidth detection feature that seamlessly plays back the best quality file at either 300, 600, 900 or 1200 kbps.
  • Easily setup their Roku Player using its built-in Wi-Fi connection and begin watching videos within minutes.
  • Connect their Roku Player to any television set using HDMI, Component Video, Composite Video, S-Video, Stereo Audio or Optical Audio connections.

“With the subscription-free $99 Roku Player that connects to any TV, customers can now choose and watch their favorite new-release movie instantly and access all of their titles from their video library,” said Roy Price, director Amazon Video On Demand. “Amazon Video On Demand’s large selection makes the Roku Player the perfect choice for hassle-free on demand movie and TV entertainment.”

"We are excited to add Amazon's massive catalog to our player including new-releases and top movie and TV titles,” said Anthony Wood, Roku CEO and Founder. "This makes the Roku Player the ideal player for watching internet content directly on the TV.”

About Amazon.com

Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), a Fortune 500 company based in Seattle, opened on the World Wide Web in July 1995 and today offers Earth's Biggest Selection. Amazon.com, Inc. seeks to be Earth's most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices. Amazon.com and other sellers offer millions of unique new, refurbished and used items in categories such as books, movies, music & games, digital downloads, electronics & computers, home & garden, toys, kids & baby, grocery, apparel, shoes & jewelry, health & beauty, sports & outdoors, and tools, auto & industrial.

Amazon Web Services provides Amazon's developer customers with access to in-the-cloud infrastructure services based on Amazon's own back-end technology platform, which developers can use to enable virtually any type of business. Examples of the services offered by Amazon Web Services are Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Amazon SimpleDB, Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS), Amazon Flexible Payments Service (Amazon FPS), and Amazon Mechanical Turk.

Amazon and its affiliates operate websites, including www.amazon.com, www.amazon.co.uk, www.amazon.de, www.amazon.co.jp, www.amazon.fr, www.amazon.ca, and the Joyo Amazon websites at www.joyo.cn and www.amazon.cn.

As used herein, "Amazon.com," "we," "our" and similar terms include Amazon.com, Inc., and its subsidiaries, unless the context indicates otherwise.

About Roku

Roku is a market leader in innovative applications for digital media. Through its work in both software and hardware, the company develops and sells consumer products and business solutions to bring rich media to the end user. Its products include: The Roku Digital Video Player and the BrightSign digital signage controllers. Roku is privately held and based in Saratoga, Calif. For more information on the company and its products, visit: http://www.roku.com

Forward-Looking Statements

This announcement contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Actual results may differ significantly from management's expectations. These forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that include, among others, risks related to competition, management of growth, new products, services and technologies, potential fluctuations in operating results, international expansion, outcomes of legal proceedings and claims, fulfillment center optimization, seasonality, commercial agreements, acquisitions and strategic transactions, foreign exchange rates, system interruption, significant amount of indebtedness, inventory, government regulation and taxation, payments and fraud. More information about factors that potentially could affect Amazon.com's financial results is included in Amazon.com's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including its Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2007, and subsequent filings.

Source: Amazon.com

Thanks to reader Ron H. for sending this to us!



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