No Netflix Closed Captioning for ROKU 1 Owners

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Re: No Netflix Closed Captioning for ROKU 1 Owners

Postby stratcat96 » Fri Aug 12, 2011 6:07 pm

some of you guys are cut ups. Everything is Roku's fault, they lied and lied and deceived to no end. The Roku 1's are capable of displaying subtitles, just as they do from Hulu Plus. They can't scrape them out of the air, the streams sent to the box need to have them enabled. That's all Netflix kids. Did Netflix lie when they said they expect Roku to have them by the end of the year? Not exactly, as the current Rokus do have them.Did they leave their statement "open for the interpretation" that Rokus as a whole would have them? Yeah they did. I can imagine that buying a Roku 1, or any box for that matter, expecting a feature to be introduced just to see it go to the new model is disheartening, but you really need to place the blame where it belongs and that is Netflix.
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Re: No Netflix Closed Captioning for ROKU 1 Owners

Postby nushmut » Fri Aug 12, 2011 7:00 pm

essence wrote:Yes, Gilgamesh, I as well would think you are in the minority. I purchased my Roku in June 2011 without realizing that it did not support subtitles. So I twittered Roku, and the reply was that they were working on it. Sure, the moment we purchase technology, we are behind. But the Roku 1 not supporting subtitles is not the same since the technology has been around so long. Roku is just catching up, and so I would expect them to provide a software update for Netflix subtitles instead of having us purchase a brand new machine. I am a Mac person. I don't have to buy a whole new laptop to take advantage of most updates. I just buy the newest OS. Come on, ROKU. We have been faithful in launching your success. Don't leave us hanging. You WILL lose supporters. I need a second device for another TV, but will jump the ROKU ship over this and purchase another brand of streaming device.


As a fellow Mac user, I would point you to Apple's iOS history for some comparison. Successive major releases have either removed support for older devices, or feature-limited them. I used to have a 2nd-gen iPod touch, and while it could install iOS4, few of the major feature additions actually made it to the device. 1st-gen users were left out completely. And 2nd-gen units have since been deprecated as well, as they can't get the latest iOS4 updates, and they will not get iOS5 either. I ultimately sold that iPod and moved up to a 4th-gen touch, and it was a great decision.

I'd also look at all this through the lens of the PPC-Intel transition Apple went through.

My point: the basic hardware design of the Roku had been basically the same until the Roku 2s came out, whose summer release timeframe was first mentioned in various news venues back in the spring. Roku 2 has new and different components (and firmware). The stream format that Netflix decided to use for the Roku 2s may simply be incompatible with the Roku 1 models. And that was ultimately and solely Netflix's decision, not Roku's, since Netflix programs and controls their own channel. No matter when you purchased it, the hardware had been in release for three years in various forms, so having third parties limit future feature support on older hardware, in order to do more advanced things with new hardware, should come as no surprise. This happens all the time.

Should Roku have been more forthcoming if they knew what the Netflix situation would be? Perhaps. But then Apple is known for being very tight-lipped with that sort of information until it's ready to present or release a product. And an NDA may have been in play, limiting what Roku could publicly disclose. Considering the potential options, I'd rather stick to what actually happened, than to have a case where Roku announces early that Netflix wouldn't be supporting subtitles and 5.1 for R1 models, and then have Netflix pull all of its support from all Roku devices. Frankly, losing Netflix as a part of the Roku experience would've been quite deadly, especially in the midst of this mainstream rollout.

Pinning this all onto a customer loyalty claim seems dubious at best. Especially when you only purchased your Roku in June. It sounds like this was your first Roku, is that correct? I don't want to turn this into a flame war or anything, but I don't think that someone who joined a user base 2 months ago can really compare their loyalty to those who were there 2 or 3 years ago and continue to support Roku. (And no, I don't fall into that latter group either, as you'll see in a bit.)

I've seen the same claims made when other companies limited or ended support for older hardware, and it rarely, if ever, has had a noticeable impact long-term. Given the mainstream push that is fairly new for Roku, I think it's far more likely that the influx of new buyers, including those who are looking for subtitle support on Netflix, will far outweigh the non-purchases from any past customers.

You're not wrong to be making the decision you've outlined, but it seems pretty clear that Roku has made a business decision, to risk losing a few existing purchasers in order to reel in far more newcomers. Right or wrong, it's not our call. We can voice our dissatisfaction, and ultimately take our business elsewhere if it seems warranted.

I bought my Roku last November, and I'm similarly frustrated by Netflix's decision to not support 5.1 audio or 1080p video on the older hardware. I'm disappointed that it played out this way, but that's all. There are still bug fix updates in the works, I'm sure. Plus, channels have continued to see Roku 1-compatible updates since the Roku 2 release. Even Netflix provided a stability update for the older hardware! And the recent Hulu+ update has resolved the vast majority of my issues with that channel. So while I don't get to enjoy 1080p or 5.1 audio from Netflix right now, or have the ability to play Angry Birds on my TV, my Roku still works, and it's still getting better all the time.

In my opinion, of course! :wink:
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Re: No Netflix Closed Captioning for ROKU 1 Owners

Postby mommom » Fri Aug 12, 2011 10:39 pm

So you are saying that if Apple charged $59 for a Macbook it would just require a new OS every year or 2?Or better yet,the 3 beautiful blueberry Imacs sitting in our storage shed just need a new OS to be up to date? Heck,Snow Leopard is like $35 ,a new Roku is $59.
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Re: No Netflix Closed Captioning for ROKU 1 Owners

Postby nushmut » Fri Aug 12, 2011 11:13 pm

Fully-functioning computers are different from an STB device like the Roku (or TVs, BD/DVD players, etc.). But, that is essentially the pattern Apple follows with both Mac OS X and iOS devices. A new major OS version comes out every year or 2, supporting the latest hardware revisions, while adding significant features and limiting or ending support for older hardware. And it happens to varying degrees with all computers and similar devices; Apple just tends to be easiest to follow since there aren't as many hardware options on the Mac market.

Older hardware eventually doesn't have the horsepower to handle new OS or firmware updates, so can only updated to a certain point. It will still function with whatever capabilities it has after the latest available update (just like Roku 1 models), it just may not get to have every single feature that is provided to the latest hardware release (i.e., Netflix's 5.1, 1080p, and subtitles features).
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Re: No Netflix Closed Captioning for ROKU 1 Owners

Postby jlsoaz » Sun Aug 14, 2011 4:59 pm

nushmut wrote:[...]
You're not wrong to be making the decision you've outlined, but it seems pretty clear that Roku has made a business decision, to risk losing a few existing purchasers in order to reel in far more newcomers. Right or wrong, it's not our call. We can voice our dissatisfaction, and ultimately take our business elsewhere if it seems warranted.

I bought my Roku last November, and I'm similarly frustrated by Netflix's decision to not support 5.1 audio or 1080p video on the older hardware. I'm disappointed that it played out this way, but that's all. There are still bug fix updates in the works, I'm sure. Plus, channels have continued to see Roku 1-compatible updates since the Roku 2 release. Even Netflix provided a stability update for the older hardware! And the recent Hulu+ update has resolved the vast majority of my issues with that channel. So while I don't get to enjoy 1080p or 5.1 audio from Netflix right now, or have the ability to play Angry Birds on my TV, my Roku still works, and it's still getting better all the time.

In my opinion, of course! :wink:


I thought this post had some good points in it.

A constructive thought, probably won't get anywhere, but a thought:

Would it be possible for Roku to put this issue into play in a different court? Could they somehow encourage one or two capable 3rd parties to try to make Netflix CC work over the gen1 device (without violating the letter or spirit of business agreements?). This would be a financial boon to customers who would prefer not to have to transition away from Gen 1 devices two or three years before they might have otherwise done so. Roku must have some decent relationships and ways of doing things in place for development of channels. Might this be modified into a relationship that could result in a de facto workable hack for the Netflix CC problem?
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Re: No Netflix Closed Captioning for ROKU 1 Owners

Postby destruk » Sun Aug 14, 2011 5:15 pm

If they allowed two channels to run at the same time, you could have a background process stream subtitles from a server you own (or have access to) in sync with the stream coming in from Netflix, however, with the focus being on lowest common denominator computing I doubt they would allow that option.
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Re: No Netflix Closed Captioning for ROKU 1 Owners

Postby salsaguy » Sun Aug 14, 2011 5:26 pm

My wife is pretty upset since she likes to use Closed Captions on most things and esp when they "speak funny" like when she watches the Tudors on Netflix. No CC for he is not good. I bought my XDS recently and didnt realize it didnt have it
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Re: No Netflix Closed Captioning for ROKU 1 Owners

Postby mommom » Sun Aug 14, 2011 6:35 pm

You can get her a nice Roku2 for $59 so she does not have to listen to them "speak funny".
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Re: No Netflix Closed Captioning for ROKU 1 Owners

Postby jlsoaz » Sun Aug 14, 2011 7:40 pm

mommom wrote:You can get her a nice Roku2 for $59 so she does not have to listen to them "speak funny".


If Netflix has added closed captions or English subtitles to that particular title in a way that is streamed through. I don't have netflix, but checking Hulu's websdite, it looks to me that maybe that title doesn't have cc? Dunno.
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Re: No Netflix Closed Captioning for ROKU 1 Owners

Postby salsaguy » Sun Nov 06, 2011 5:11 pm

I can use my PS3 to have her watch the Tudors WITH CC captions on but of course that is when the PS3 wants to load Netflix.

It seems NF takes forever to load on the PS3 but at least it does support CC and 5.1 Surround when available
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Re: No Netflix Closed Captioning for ROKU 1 Owners

Postby Heyitsrick » Mon Nov 07, 2011 7:01 am

essence wrote: I am a Mac person. I don't have to buy a whole new laptop to take advantage of most updates. I just buy the newest OS. Come on, ROKU. We have been faithful in launching your success. Don't leave us hanging. You WILL lose supporters. I need a second device for another TV, but will jump the ROKU ship over this and purchase another brand of streaming device.


So am I to understand that you are willing to PAY for firmware releases on your Roku box like you would have to do with operating system updates on the Mac? And by the way, your analogy totally fails for any Mac owner (like me) who has a PowerPC platform. Newer OS's and features aren't updated for PowerPC models.

The cost of newer Roku2 devices is so small in the grand scheme of things that I don't get the complaining about it. If it were a $500 device, I could understand it. But the top model has been offered for $75 recently (and one would think will be again with Black Friday/Cyber Monday coming up).
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Re: No Netflix Closed Captioning for ROKU 1 Owners

Postby jheartney » Mon Nov 07, 2011 9:18 pm

I was certainly one of the ones irritated by the fact that Roku 1 devices will never support Netflix captioning, but by now I'm over it; we just bit the bullet and got a Roku2 HD, which (after some teething problems) displays most Netflix captions. My two Roku1's are attached to older tube TV's that we can do without captions on.

I do think Roku1 customers had some pretty solid reasons to think that captions were on the way for their hardware. Up until Roku2, all Rokus had run the same firmware and had the same feature set (aside from some explicitly being HD and some not, and some supporting additional flavors of WiFi). Promises that the feature was coming could reasonably have been interpreted as applying to the existing hardware. In fact when I called Roku support a few days after the Roku2 was announced, I was told that captioning would be included in the next firmware revision to my Roku1 devices.

As we now know, the real problem is with Netflix, which isn't adding caption data to the streams used by the older Roku devices. Irritating, but what can you do?
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