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jlsoaz
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Browse Neflix InstantWatch Library Directly From Roku NP?

Thu Aug 14, 2008 9:12 pm

I suggest that it would be good if we could browse the Netflix InstantWatch Library directly from our Roku device and the TV screen, without having to log in via computer to our Netflix account. Perhaps some answer has been given already as to why this has not been implemented?

It seems that I am able to use my soundbridge to browse various genres of radio stations and try out different ones. Is this dependent on my interfacing with Radio Roku or is there some other reason I am able to do this?

For browsing Netflix's library, I wonder if it would be possible to do this without setting up something like "Video Roku". For browsing to many other "stations", perhaps setting up something like "Video Roku" would be part of the answer, or perhaps it would be possible to set it up to do this without such a thing.

.... whatever will reduce the number of times I have to turn to my computer to operate what is coming in to my video, the better.
 
nowhereman
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Re: Browse Neflix InstantWatch Library Directly From Roku NP

Fri Aug 15, 2008 10:02 am

jlsoaz wrote:
I suggest that it would be good if we could browse the Netflix InstantWatch Library directly from our Roku device and the TV screen, without having to log in via computer to our Netflix account. Perhaps some answer has been given already as to why this has not been implemented?


The official reasoning is that most NetFlix users spend a lot of time on the site anyway managing their physical DVD queue, so it would be natural for them to just manage their Instant Watch queue at the same time.

I tend to agree. Keeping the interface for this box dead-simple is going to be extremely important in order for the average NF customer to find it worth while. And existing NF users are already familiar with the queue paradigm, so doing it this way has a minimal learning curve. I think this is a lesson Roku learned partly by doing the SoundBridge. The SB is extremely cool and I use mine every day, but it's fallen into a niche market because it's perceived as a geeky toy. The average music listener would probably find it cumbersome to setup and operate.

jlsoaz wrote:
For browsing Netflix's library, I wonder if it would be possible to do this without setting up something like "Video Roku". For browsing to many other "stations", perhaps setting up something like "Video Roku" would be part of the answer, or perhaps it would be possible to set it up to do this without such a thing.

.... whatever will reduce the number of times I have to turn to my computer to operate what is coming in to my video, the better.


Having yet another website like radio.roku that you have to deal with to manage the box would increase the number of times you have to turn on the computer, so I doubt that's the answer. For those who might be wondering, radio.roku.com is a web site where SoundBridge owners can go to search for and discover internet radio stations to play on their SoundBridges. In its simplest form, it's basically a web-managed queue for the SoundBridge, not entirely unlike the web-managed queues we have for our NF boxes now.

I do think it would be nice to be able to browse titles other than those in your instant queue from the box, but I absolutely to not think it is a good idea from an interface standpoint to try and add searching or browsing of all 10k+ title to the box itself. A happy middle ground might be to add the ability for the box to browse through your own queue as well as a handful of pre-programmed queues. Maybe one of the most recent additions to the IW service or one of the most popular titles on the service. Kind of what they did with the new IW RSS feeds they put out last week.

My $0.02 8)
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KennyJ
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Fri Aug 15, 2008 1:57 pm

When I got my Roku, I went through NoWhereMan's list http://www.thenowhereman.com/netflix/index.php?s=R

And picked out everything that looked interesting (I pretty much just browsed 3-4 star ratings) and added them to my instant Queue. My Queue has about 300 titles.

Every few days I check the RSS feeds for new instant watch movies and add anything the looks interesting to my Queue.

I pretty much have no need for adding movies from my couch.
 
jlsoaz
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Re: Browse Neflix InstantWatch Library Directly From Roku NP

Fri Aug 15, 2008 4:56 pm

nowhereman wrote:
The official reasoning is that most NetFlix users spend a lot of time on the site anyway managing their physical DVD queue, so it would be natural for them to just manage their Instant Watch queue at the same time.

I tend to agree. Keeping the interface for this box dead-simple is going to be extremely important in order for the average NF customer to find it worth while. And existing NF users are already familiar with the queue paradigm, so doing it this way has a minimal learning curve. I think this is a lesson Roku learned partly by doing the SoundBridge. The SB is extremely cool and I use mine every day, but it's fallen into a niche market because it's perceived as a geeky toy. The average music listener would probably find it cumbersome to setup and operate.


The soundbridge, perhaps like other similar devices, does have some annoying cumbersomeness to it, but the more that this resolves in favor of genre-based browsing for new stations, right on the soundbridge itself, the less I have to worry about using my computer.

While it is hard for me to guess (without having tried it) whether the addition of full-library video browsing right on the box would be, on balance, my preference over netflix site use, I think it would. Nearly the entire reason that I got a soundbridge was to involve my computer as little as humanly possible in sound playback, and nearly the entire reason that I got the Roku NP was to involve my computer as little as possible in video playback. While station and video selection is merely a preface to playback, there is still a decent amount I do not like about having to fire up a computer to deal with it.

It's great that you prefer it a different way, and it seems you have a different guess than I do as to netflix instantwatch-using Roku NP player owners and what their preferences would be.

This is perhaps not a critical argument, but I want to make clear to the NP creators that some of us would vote a preference for browsing on the box, or at least we suspect that if we were allowed to try browsing on the box, that we would prefer this to browsing on the netflix website.

I rather suspect it could be made a reasonably intelligible process. People browse satellite TV menus with hundreds of stations on them. I don't think it would be any more difficult to browse a 10,000 film library divided up into a couple of dozen (or so) genres on the box than it might be on the site.


nowhereman wrote:

Having yet another website like radio.roku that you have to deal with to manage the box would increase the number of times you have to turn on the computer, so I doubt that's the answer. [...]


The existence of Radio Roku is (I'm not sure, but I think) what allowed me to start adding stations to my favorites, and browse broad genres, without as much hassle. It also allowed me to do some searches on the site. Perhaps that was about the same thing as the genre-browsing on the box itself?

Ultimately, while I go to Radio Roku maybe once per year, it seems to have allowed me to browse a much wider breadth of stations. Previously I was frustrated, feeling I did not have the secret to using this too-hard-to-operate-box.

So, the reason I was asking if it would follow as a possible need, to set up something like Video Roku, is to ask if setting up such a thing would help in a similar way... removing much of the technical geek hassle of having to know the secret of bringing in obscure or difficult areas or channels or stations. So, I am asking if ultimately it could help reduce computer dependency here, and perhaps not increase it, as you seem to suggest it might.

In the end, perhaps setting up such a site does not help that much unless there are dozens or hundreds of stations to choose from. If so, then this conversation is moot for the NP Player unless and until there are dozens or hundreds of video sites to choose from via the NP player.
 
Bron
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Re: Browse Neflix InstantWatch Library Directly From Roku NP

Sat Aug 16, 2008 1:49 pm

nowhereman wrote:
I do think it would be nice to be able to browse titles other than those in your instant queue from the box, but I absolutely to not think it is a good idea from an interface standpoint to try and add searching or browsing of all 10k+ title to the box itself. A happy middle ground might be to add the ability for the box to browse through your own queue as well as a handful of pre-programmed queues. Maybe one of the most recent additions to the IW service or one of the most popular titles on the service. Kind of what they did with the new IW RSS feeds they put out last week.


This was exactly what I was thinking. It should be fairly easy to give access to a few other pre-defined queue's like "Top 50", "Recent Additions", "Latest Sci-FI" or whatever. These all exist or could exist on the Netflix servers. Once you do this, you can have 'queues' for any other services that are added as well (e.g. hulu.com, youtube, etc.)

But bottom line I'm another vote for keeping the interface simple. I'm perfectly OK setting up my queues on the Netflix site as I always have. But having a few queues that are updated every week or day that I could browse (should be fairly short, no more than 50 items, say), would be nice.
 
scopey
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Re: Browse Neflix InstantWatch Library Directly From Roku NP

Mon Aug 18, 2008 9:57 am

Bron wrote:
nowhereman wrote:
I do think it would be nice to be able to browse titles other than those in your instant queue from the box, but I absolutely to not think it is a good idea from an interface standpoint to try and add searching or browsing of all 10k+ title to the box itself. A happy middle ground might be to add the ability for the box to browse through your own queue as well as a handful of pre-programmed queues. Maybe one of the most recent additions to the IW service or one of the most popular titles on the service. Kind of what they did with the new IW RSS feeds they put out last week.


This was exactly what I was thinking. It should be fairly easy to give access to a few other pre-defined queue's like "Top 50", "Recent Additions", "Latest Sci-FI" or whatever. These all exist or could exist on the Netflix servers. Once you do this, you can have 'queues' for any other services that are added as well (e.g. hulu.com, youtube, etc.)

But bottom line I'm another vote for keeping the interface simple. I'm perfectly OK setting up my queues on the Netflix site as I always have. But having a few queues that are updated every week or day that I could browse (should be fairly short, no more than 50 items, say), would be nice.


I'll "third" that. The simple interface is great, just add the ability to surf other queues (Top.. and Recent... sound great)--that would be awesome!
 
Bumper
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Mon Aug 18, 2008 10:30 am

I like the simple interface too, but that's just not an excuse.

There is absolutely no reason why the simple interface can't be kept the way it is and simply add a small button somewhere (or a TAB to go along with the Settings Tab) that will lead a "qualified user" to an area where movies could be browsed and added to the instant queue. This wouldn't change the main interface, but it would add the ability for someone to add movies.

I'll throw this out there, the reason why this isn't done is because in the future there will be a higher model that will allow it to be done, and that model will of course cost more. Those are the simple facts of life, it's just a shame when people pull the wool over their eyes and actually make excuses for the manufacturer.
 
nowhereman
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Mon Aug 18, 2008 11:44 am

Bumper wrote:
I like the simple interface too, but that's just not an excuse.

There is absolutely no reason why the simple interface can't be kept the way it is and simply add a small button somewhere (or a TAB to go along with the Settings Tab) that will lead a "qualified user" to an area where movies could be browsed and added to the instant queue. This wouldn't change the main interface, but it would add the ability for someone to add movies.

I'll throw this out there, the reason why this isn't done is because in the future there will be a higher model that will allow it to be done, and that model will of course cost more. Those are the simple facts of life, it's just a shame when people pull the wool over their eyes and actually make excuses for the manufacturer.


No need for insults. No one outside Roku and NetFlix can know for sure why they did things the way they did, but those of us who are software engineers and who have been in the industry upwards of a decade know the process the they went through to get this box to market and we have an inkling of the reasons they may have done things the way they did. And those reasons have nothing to do with wool. I also doubt they have to do with future price hikes.

The reason a more robust interface has not yet seen the light of day may simply be time. Remember that a big reason for the early success of this device is that it was first to market. Adding a more feature-rich interface could have pushed out the release date which would have meant being beaten to market and potentially the failure of the product.

Or the reasons may not lie with Roku at all. This device is built by one company and has to interact with data from a completely different entity. NetFlix may simply not provide Roku the data paths necessary to do much more with the interface. I tend to believe this to be the case since the XBox and LG interfaces are equally simple. There may also be contractual restrictions to the interface.

So those of us who you see as "making excuses" for Roku may just have more realistic expectations given a general idea of what they went through to bring us this product.
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pnaulls
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Features

Mon Aug 18, 2008 12:13 pm

nowhereman wrote:
No need for insults. No one outside Roku and NetFlix can know for sure why they did things the way they did, but those of us who are software engineers and who have been in the industry upwards of a decade know the process the they went through to get this box to market and we have an inkling of the reasons they may have done things the way they did. And those reasons have nothing to do with wool. I also doubt they have to do with future price hikes.


Yes, exactly. I happen to work on a an embedded box, and face these very issues (our market is very different), but producing a robust (in the other sense of the word) user interface and feature set is an enormous challenge to get right. For a first version, simple is best and vastly reduces customer support for stuff that is well handled elsewhere.

I have high hopes for this box also. I've been poking at the stuff in another thread regarding its internals, stuff that's been discovered regarding its Linux setup, etc, etc (embedded Linux is something I have considerable experience with). As per the other gentleman, I have no desire to interfere with Netflix or Roku's services, but there is much potential if the device's software stack can be modified.

Even without that, there might be stuff that can be done in terms of augmenting its display of movies, like feeding it locally served movies via a proxy setup. Anyway, we'll see - my box is hopefully arriving in the next few hours.
 
Bumper
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Mon Aug 18, 2008 1:18 pm

Like I said, you guys could make all the excuses in the world for the manufacturer, it doesn't change the simple truth.

The fact of the matter is that our low end $99 device will not be able to browse titles while the more expensive future models will. flower, I'll even bet $50 that altho our $99 device is "capable" of outputing HD, it never will. Only the $199 model will :wink:

You get a LOT with the current $99 model, I love the thing. But for the better features we will have to pay more money, it's just the way the world works. Until then, keep making excuses...

P.S. nowhereman, I did not say anything insulting. If you were offended by me saying people were pulling the wool over their proverbial eyes, then you need thicker skin. I simply stated the obvious truth, if you choose to pull that wool, then you surely shouldn't be offended.
Last edited by Bumper on Mon Aug 18, 2008 2:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
wideasleep1
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Mon Aug 18, 2008 1:36 pm

Bumper wrote:
Like I said, you guys could make all the excuses in the world for the manufacturer, it doesn't change the simple truth.

The fact of the matter is that our low end $99 device will not be able to browse titles while the more expensive future models will. flower, I'll even bet $50 that altho our $99 device is "capable" of outputing HD, it never will. Only the $199 model will :wink:

You get a LOT with the current $99 model, I love the thing. But for the better features we will have to pay more money, it's just the way the world works. Until then, keep making excuses...


Up it to a $99 Roku box, and I'll take you up on that HD bet! I could use a second unit! :D
Then as it was, then again it will be
An' though the course may change sometimes,
rivers always reach the sea

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Bron
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Mon Aug 18, 2008 6:23 pm

Bumper wrote:
Like I said, you guys could make all the excuses in the world for the manufacturer, it doesn't change the simple truth.

The fact of the matter is that our low end $99 device will not be able to browse titles while the more expensive future models will. flower, I'll even bet $50 that altho our $99 device is "capable" of outputing HD, it never will. Only the $199 model will :wink:

You get a LOT with the current $99 model, I love the thing. But for the better features we will have to pay more money, it's just the way the world works. Until then, keep making excuses...

P.S. nowhereman, I did not say anything insulting. If you were offended by me saying people were pulling the wool over their proverbial eyes, then you need thicker skin. I simply stated the obvious truth, if you choose to pull that wool, then you surely shouldn't be offended.


Bumper, you have a write to your opinions, no problem there, but when you characterize those who disagree with you as "making excuses" that does sound a bit snippy to me. But, it does not bother me a bit. I'm too busy enjoying my Roku to care. ;)

But I do think you are very wrong. Roku may certainly one day release a more advanced model at a higher price, what would be unusual or wrong with that? However, I think the business model with Netflix is based more on volume and ease of use. Sometimes that means limiting things intentionally. $99 is a pretty aggressive price point and this box is a great value by any measure. So fine with me if they release a $200 "advanced" box somewhere down the line.

Anyway, it's all a bit moot since we're all really just shooting the breeze, but I think the logic is more on "our" side than yours.

Cheers!

Bron
 
Bumper
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Tue Aug 19, 2008 5:05 am

Bron wrote:
Roku may certainly one day release a more advanced model at a higher price, what would be unusual or wrong with that?
You see, this is where the problems start, when people just don't read.

When did I say there was anything unusual or wrong with it?

Did I not say many things such as "That's just the way the world works", and "Those are the simple facts of life"? Those lines seem to make it out as being a very usual practice and nothing wrong with it, no?

So why did you try and act as if I said it is wrong? Please explain that...

It's business, it's just the way it is, no need for you to make excuses to cover the fact that a company wants to make a profit, jeeze...

However, I think the business model with Netflix is based more on volume and ease of use. Sometimes that means limiting things intentionally. $99 is a pretty aggressive price point and this box is a great value by any measure.
Yes, it is great! It's a solid unit and a good deal for $99, no one is arguing that. But it's already been announced that the $99 Roku is the bottom of the line unit and higher models will be coming out in the future. Those models will have searchable movies from the box and HD. HD might come to our $99 unit as well, but most likely in a limited form. Mark my words.

but I think the logic is more on "our" side than yours.
From what I've read from "your" side, there is very little logic being used, just excuses for some strange reason... I just can't see how this is even being argued, it's the classic business model that is used by just about EVERYTHING. Whether it be an electronic device, a car, etc.

But hey, you could keep arguing it with yourselves.
 
nowhereman
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Tue Aug 19, 2008 9:03 am

Bumper wrote:
The fact of the matter is that our low end $99 device will not be able to browse titles while the more expensive future models will.


What definition of the word "fact" are you using here? We don't even know for a fact that there will ever be another model, let alone its price point or capabilities. For that matter, we don't know the future capabilities of our current boxes either. So unless you define "fact" as the commingling of multiple wild assumptions.... 8)
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pnaulls
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Tue Aug 19, 2008 9:14 am

nowhereman wrote:
What definition of the word "fact" are you using here? We don't even know for a fact that there will ever be another model, let alone its price point or capabilities. For that matter, we don't know the future capabilities of our current boxes either. So unless you define "fact" as the commingling of multiple wild assumptions.... 8)


Yes, indeed. Let me offer instead some real facts and educated guesses based on real world expertise and similar products:

- Some people just like to complain. That's true no matter what ;-)
- Chances of a new version, eventually, are likely but there has to be a compelling hardware differentiation (compare iPhone models, but there are other examples). I'd give it 12 months or so.
- There's nothing obviously missing hardware wise right now, unless we're talking a different product space like a DVR or Netflix enabled Blu-Ray player, which are well covered.
- Developing new features and getting them exactly right, is time consuming. This is not a defense of Roku, merely a reality of software development. But it's often _more_ effort to make arbitrary software distinctions between similar platforms that could easily run all the features.
- Likely if Roku don't add this particular feature, someone else will, eventually. Moreover, if they open up the platform, lots of features we won't have thought of will be added.

Finally, I'm reminded of this:

http://www.misterbg.org/AppleProductCycle/

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