Boxee and Roku make streaming video moves

The market for streaming video solutions that put Internet-delivered content on people’s living-room TV screens continues to get more competitive. Boxee has just announced it will begin offering movie content from Vudu next month, while rival Roku has announced the addition of television content from PlayOn. And while Boxee is demonstrating its upcoming Boxee Box to be distributed by D-Link, Roku has announced its entire platform—hardware and software—will be available for third parties to license…and Netgear’s unit is already in stores.

First up, Boxee has announced that the Vudu on-demand movie service will be available on Boxee’s Mac, Windows, and Boxee Box platforms this November. The partnership is Boxee’s first that will make newly released movies available on a pay-per-view basis as soon as they come out on DVD; Vudu also carries a large catalog of older films along with television shows. Vudu distinguishes itself with “the industry’s largest” library of high-definition content, along with the ability to stream content at 1080p resolution with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. On-demand rentals of new titles will cost $2 for a two-night rental.

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Right now, Boxee is available as a free application for Mac OS X and Windows, which users install on home theater PCs to serve as a central hub of their home entertainment experience. But folks who don’t want to commit a whole PC to Boxee —even a a nettop or Mac mini—will soon be able to opt for the Boxee Box by D-Link, which features HDMI output, Ethernet and Wi-Fi networking, an SD cart slot, 2 USB ports, and a QWERTY-equipped remote. Pre-orders are available for the Boxee Box on Amazon for $199, and units should start shipping next month.

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Meanwhile, Roku—which has had its set-top boxes on the market since 2008—has been adding to its content pool as well, announcing the addition of PlayOn TV to the Roku lineup. PlayOn gives Roku users another way to tap into Hulu, along with television networks like Comedy Central, Spike, ESPN, Nickelodeon, PBS, CBS, TBS, and more. Free 14-day trials are available to Roku owners now, with ongoing service priced at $39.99 for the first year and $19.99 for each year after that. Roku users will need a WIndows PC to download and install the software to their Roku unit.

Roku has also announced it is making its hardware and software platform available for licensing, clearing the way for electronics manufacturers to make and sell their own Roku units, or work Roku’s platform into other types of devices like Blu-ray players or Internet-connected televisions.

“Roku has built an open platform that has been enthusiastically adopted by content providers, many choosing Roku as the first product to launch their service into the living room,” said Roku CEO and founder Anthony Wood, in a statement. “With today’s announcement we are broadening our reach and giving many more consumers access to our product and all the great content it contains, whether they shop on-line or in retail stores.”

In the meantime, Roku’s partnership with Netgear—the first licensee of the Roku platform— is also bearing fruit: the Netgear Roku Player is now available at major electronics retailers at a suggested price of $89.99. The Netgear Roku player can handle 1080p video, offers wired Ethernet and 802.11n Wi-Fi for connectivity, and sports HDMI output for connecting to a receiver or HDTV. It can access Netflix, Amazon Video On Demand, Vimeo, Pandora, MP3tunes, SmugMug, Flickr,, UFC, and more.


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