We hope you like the product once you receive it and give it a spin.
I think your comparison to TiVo with Amazon is valid. There are some major differences though. TiVo/Amazon is a download service where the entire movie sent to the TiVo and stored on the hard drive. Also, the Amazon Unbox service is a pay per view service, so you purchase movies on a per title basis. Since you are essentially "renting" movies, you also have a certain amount of time to watch the movie before it gets auto-deleted from the hard drive. TiVo/Amazon probably has more in common with AppleTV or Vudu.
As for your wish to eliminate the computer from the movie browsing process, it's definitely a feature we would like to see as well. There's a lot of work involved in conjunction with Netflix to make this happen, but we do know that it is something customers will want eventually.
For whatever it's worth, here are my first impressions now that I have watched a couple of movies. I guess I'll keep it in the thread I started, though I guess also you'll be seeing 10 Trillion of these sorts of posts over the next few weeks and months.
1. The elimination of my computer from the process is a bit more complete than I was worrying about. I think you worked at it.
2. Sound and video are acceptable at my 3 mbps DSL connection.
3. Stopping and rewinding and restarting and such are a pain in the neck, but I suppose somewhere in the realm of acceptable.
The most hard-hitting points I could make so far, as to limitations:
1. The lack of foreign-language captions, dubbing, director commentary track and other DVD bonus-features is a problem for some of us. VHS is a thing of the past, and the features that DVDs come with are some of the features I like best. I love listening a bit to what a director has to say about the film. I like being able to watch in a foreign language with a friend. Etc. Perhaps some of the more modern ones available will have these features?
2. I would like to see a pay-per-view structure for some movies rather than watch the industry wrangle for the next 15 years over many (but not all) viewable files. This includes anything from 1 minute newsclips to full length motion pictures to student films to whatever. I am fine to pay some negotiated price here or there if I can have control over what I watch.
The "all you can eat for $8.99 per month subscription" is nice but has some drawbacks. For me, I addressed my TV and Video Gluttony tendencies by getting rid of cable and even a TV antenna years ago. I've been buying an occasional video, so I watch a tiny bit of video every month, and the NP by Roku does allow me to eliminate mail wait-time and such, and it allows me to focus on classic films, but it's still a bit of a negative in terms of returning me to a sort of gluttonous uncontrolled steadily-purchased video-intake option (with a damper on quality and selection). I know, others would strongly disagree. I *do* like having the player and will enjoy it with my subscription. I guess I am making this point in part because I don't think others will do so very often.
I realize that these are largely Netflix issues (though maybe the NP by Roku maybe can also be used with other services in the future?), as to how they structure and negotiate with content providers what to provide in streaming format and how. I see it as my job as a consumer to voice some views (even if unusual) so they can think them over. Again... I am fine to pay for the occasional video, whether purchased impetuously on Amazon.com used or new, or purchased and viewed through Roku.
3. Hopefully we can use this player in the future either to browse to other services or Netflix will continue to innovate and evolve and meet our needs. For example, they could carry "channels" of internet TV auteurs... that kind of thing.
4. On the horizon, I don't make so much distinction as to files, whether music, video, book, magazine story, whatever... so I'm just mentioning, perhaps some sort of Roku player, perhaps in conjunction with some content-provider-intermediary like Netflix or Amazon, will be my avenue for those various files.
All-in-all I find my mind ajumble with various thoughts about this thing. As I said in starting the thread, and confirm now that I have the simple seemingly well-made device, I think this development is very exciting.