For some time, the Sony Playstation3 was the only Netflix device that could play a 1080P video stream. Other Netflix devices that could display HD content were limited to 720P. The embargo is now over. The new Roku 2 that was just released includes a new Netflix client that supports 1080P video as well as Dolby Digital surround sound and closed captions. Our friends at Zatz Not Funny have some screen shots of the new interface. Apparently, previous generation Roku devices will not get access to the new Netflix client. That’s disappointing for folks like myself who purchased the XDS. The XDS was advertised as being a 1080P and Dolby Digital capable device (to clarify: it can pass through DD but not decode it). The Hub thought it was just a matter of time before the Netflix client was upgraded to take advantage of the Roku hardware. Furthermore, the XDS has superior dual-band wireless giving it an edge when streaming wireless video. If you’re also disappointed, the Hub encourages you to email Roku at firstname.lastname@example.org
The other announcement on the 1080P front is that Texas Instruments’ new mobile hardware platform (or chipset), the OMAP 4, has been certified by Netflix to play 1080P video streams. Planned for release later this year, the platform is designed for Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) tablets and mobile devices.
The speculation for some time was that Sony had an exclusive agreement with Netflix to provide 1080P video. That exclusivity appears to be over now. At least when the Playstation network goes down, we’ll have other ways to get the best audio and video available from Netflix. Official word from Netflix is that more 1080P Netflix devices are coming. One question is when? Will existing devices be upgraded? How about devices with the prevalent HTML5 interface? It won’t be easy to tell as Netflix uses the same “HD” badge for both 720P and 1080P content in their user interface. Depending on the size of your TV, you may be hard pressed to tell the difference. Keep your eyes open.