The LG model BD300 will be only the second set-top device compatible with the Netflix instant-streaming offering. The first was a dedicated $99 Roku player introduced earlier in the year. Microsoft’s Xbox 360 will also add the capability this fall.
The Netflix instant-streaming video service offers more than 12,000 movies and TV episodes in standard-definition format online for virtually instant playback.
Users will be required to register for a Netflix subscription membership, allowing its traditional mail-delivered disc rentals and now streaming video services via a broadband connection.
The “premium” positioned player will be 1080p HD output capable, and will also be BD Live and Bonus View ready, meaning that with the addition of a USB flash drive for persistent memory it will be able to access online extra content and interactive features. Bonus View will enable playing picture-in-picture running commentaries over the feature film. The player will include a built-in Ethernet port for a wired connection to in-home Internet networks.
LG digital media division marketing and sales VP Allan Jason said the third-generation Blu-ray player will ship in the fall at a suggested retail price range “well under $500. It will be competitively priced with the other new Blu-ray Disc players coming to market.”
LG Electronics and Netflix plan to demonstrate the BD300 Network Blu-ray Disc Player for the first time Thursday night to invited press members at its 2008 summer line show here.
Jason said that in addition to playing back Netflix streaming video and Blu-ray Disc content in up to full 1080p resolution, the player will also up-convert standard-definition DVDs to 1080p.
“Consumers are all about content,” Jason told TWICE. “They are speaking loudly saying ‘We want what content we want, when we want it and we want flexibility in how we get it.’ ”
Netflix makes its instant-streaming video service available to members who sign up for eight out of nine membership packages. Each package entitles members to varying numbers of Blu-ray and DVD disc rentals at one time. Membership including an unlimited streaming video package runs about $8.99/month. Netflix members (the company said it has 8.4 million of them) may stream videos for playback on their PCs or on TVs via the Roku and soon LG BD300 player. In the fall Xbox 360 game console users will also have access to streaming content from Netflix.
Streaming content includes some day-and-date movie releases, but for the most part, movie selections are older catalog fare. However, the streaming service also includes episodes of many popular TV programs, many of which first appear the day after they originally air, said Steve Swasey, a Netflix spokesman.
The player will rely on a wired broadband connection and queue-based user interface. Netflix members will use the Netflix Web site to add movies and TV episodes to their individual instant Queues. Those choices will automatically be displayed on members’ TVs and available to watch instantly through the LG player.
Once selected, movies will begin playing in as little as 30 seconds, LG said. With the BD300’s accompanying remote control, Netflix members will be able to browse and make selections on the TV screen and also have the ability to read synopses and rate movies. The streamed videos can also be fast-forwarded and rewound.
The BD300 also includes LG’s SimpLink technology, which allows users to control similarly equipped LG TV and AV products via onscreen menus or directly from the product.
Jason said LG opted to work with the Netflix service because “they have the highest visibility amongst consumers. They have the latest movie releases both on Blu-ray and DVD and they now have a service that’s moving beyond just disc-based movies. We think LG and Netflix is the perfect marriage. We now have player that takes full advantage of their full portfolio.”
In addition to the 12,000 standard-definition instant-streaming titles, the Netflix catalog includes more than 700 movies in high-definition Blu-ray Disc format and more than 100,000 titles in standard-definition DVD, which the player will up-convert to 1080p.