Netflix to Begin Streaming HD Videos

Service first comes this week to Xbox console, then Roku box.

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Tomorrow is the launch date for the first HD movies to stream from Netflix's service. About 300 hi-def titles will be available through Microsoft's Xbox 360 gaming console, at least to Microsoft Live Gold subscribers.

Early reviews welcome the new application, which comes as part of a broader update for Xbox. Dan Ackerman at Crave says the movie streaming could be a "killer app," though he warns it can be tough to master with the console's gamepad:

It takes some time to get used to how the buttons and triggers operate--we were constantly accidentally backing out to the main menu by hitting the "B" button.

The video feature could make the Xbox an "Apple TV killer" says John R. Quain at Electronic House. The video does fall short of true HD because of compression...

Nevertheless, the picture quality is generally superior to that offered by competing systems.

Not to be left out of the fun, Roku is saying that HD titles will come to its box by year's end. No word when other customers will get hi-def streams from Netflix, including TiVo, Blu-ray and even PC-based subscribers.