Roku to Stream HD Movies by Year’s End

The Roku set-top box will stream movies from Netflix (s NFLX) in HD by the end of the year, according to a post written to the company’s forums over the weekend (hat tip to Hacking Netflix). Some details revealed from the entry:

  • Roku will be delivering Netflix in HD by the end of the year
  • Roku will be using Advanced Profile encodes which will deliver HD at substantially lower bit-rates than what Xbox is offering
  • The number of titles offered is up to Netflix, but the library will be the same as or larger than the Xbox library
  • The UI will be updated to run in 720p and more covers will be visible on the screen at a time
  • The release will include another major new feature that you’ll have to wait a bit longer to learn about

The move follows on the heels of news last week that Netlfix’s streaming to the Xbox already offers a small library of HD titles, and that Netflix HD streams will be coming to TiVo as well.
It’s no surprise that Roku says it will deliver HD at “substantially lower bit-rates” than Xbox. When I spoke with Roku earlier this year, it said that it wasn’t worried about bandwidth caps from the likes of Comcast because of its work to squeeze better quality out of lower bit-rates and improved codecs. We’ll have to wait and see if/how much that quality suffers because of it.