Online rental power Netflix has announced that they are working with LG Electronics to "develop a set-top box for consumers to stream movies and other programming from the Internet to HDTV's." Delivery is expected in the second half of 2008 with more details expected to be announced at the Consumer Electronics Show next week. The statement claims that more than 6,000 movies and TV episodes will be available to be "delivered instantly" over the Internet, but also indicates that high definition content is a future component of their plan. In reporting on the press release, the Associated Press notes that similar devices from Apple and Vudu run from $299-$399, but no prices have been announced for the Netflix/LG box.
To my mind, the competition for Apple TV and Netflix/LG is more with set top boxes from cable and satellite providers than with personal computers. Apple TV and Netflix/LG both require up-front payment for still another box in your living room, while cable and satellite providers do not. Netflix says subscribers will have a certain amount of access, depending on their subscriber plan, while everyone else appears to have a pay-per-view model. Potentially, though, Apple and Netflix could offer much greater choice of content. Still, no one's talking much about offering more high-def content this year. Will that wait until the great "analog to digital switch" next year for broadcasters and content providers?