Recently, I noticed that D-Link added another box to their streaming player line-up, the MovieNite Plus. Besides the higher end Boxee (DSM-380), I wondered how this box was different from the regular MovieNite box that is only available at Walmart retail stores. Nope, you can’t buy the $48 entry level MovieNite on-line from Walmart. Well, you can, but it’s only available for in store pick-up (see update below).
The MovieNite Plus or the DSM-312 is now available for $80 at Amazon. Both boxes appear to be physically identical. Besides home delivery, I reached out to D-Link to find out how the MovieNite Plus is different than the MovieNite or the DSM-310. The short answer is apps. The MovieNite only runs a small number of apps including Netflix, Pandora, VUDU and YouTube. The Plus on the other hand has a 130 apps available via VUDU apps. In addition, Hulu Plus is under development for the MovieNite Plus but not the MovieNite.
The additional $30 does seem to be a lot for access to Hulu Plus and apps such as Facebook and Twitter. The MovieNite Plus also faces competiton from the new Netgear NeoTV Pro. The two boxes are similar in many ways. Both boxes look similar and offer the similar physical connectivity (HDMI, analog audio but the Netgear has digital optical audio). Both can stream 1080P and Dolby Digital Plus surround sound from Netflix and VUDU. Both boxes offer VUDU apps but the Netgear box supports Intel WiDi, an Airplay alternative. Also, the NeoTV Pro is selling for ten dollars less or $70. Yes, the field of streaming players is getting more crowded.
In comparison, the regular MovieNite is aggressively priced at Walmart and its basic functionality would satisify many consumers. Did D-Link give up some margin to play at Walmart? Walmart also carries the higher-priced Roku 2 XD and XS. The XD also provides 1080P but only connects via wireless. The MovieNite offers both wired ethernet and wireless.
In addition, the MovieNite offers an digital optical audio out. From a content and software point of view, the Roku is a more mature device. It offers additional content including HBO GO, Amazon Instant Video and hundreds of other channels. Given it’s sold at Walmart, there’s been speculation that VUDU would be coming to the Roku box for awhile. Whether the hold-up is technical or licensing, the lack of VUDU on the Roku may have created an opportunity to open up shelf space for the MovieNite (as well as its everyday low price).
Finally, I would speculate that the MovieNite Plus probably has additional on-board storage to accomodate the wider selection of apps. If you’re interested in a hands-on look at the MovieNite, our friends over at Zatz Not Funny have kicked the tires.
Update (7/27/2012): Walmart has dropped the price of the MovieNite to $38. They’ve also added an option for home shipping as well.