Pre-orders and previews underway ahead of launch.
Netflix Launches Movie Streaming Set Top Box
The Roku box is about the size of a paperback book, has no hard drive, and simply streams video through an ethernet or Wi-Fi connection. For the best possible viewing experience, Netflix recommends an Internet speed of at least 1.5 Mbps.There is no additional monthly fee for use beyond Netflix's usual monthly charge (minimum $9/month) to have unlimited access to Netflix's 10,000 streamable movies.
Comparisons have already been made to the Apple TV, which offers a $229 set to box which allows you to purchase or rent movies on a per item basis. Forbes directly compares the two devices which appear to be targeting different markets. Apple's solution provides fewer (~1000) movies, but offers new-release titles and high definition content. Netflix's 10,000 titles consist mostly of older library titles and presently offers only standard definition video and stereo audio. Netflix's box, however, is said to be upgradable to High Definition and surround sound through a future software update. Like the Apple TV, Netflix is also planning to allow their device to accept non-Netflix content in the future. Gizmodo provides an early review of the unit.
Some of these differences are likely related to movie studio's willingness to license specific content in certain ways (sales, rentals, vs unlimited subscription model).