updated 08:15 am EDT, Thu July 31, 2008
LG BD300 with Netflix
LG on Thursday fulfilled early promises and unveiled its long-anticipated Blu-ray player with Netflix support. The BD300 lets users with a wired connection to the Internet navigate their instant queues on a Netflix subscription and stream either movies or TV shows directly from the device itself, turning the device into a networked media hub. Titles are presently capped at standard definition but start playing in as little as 30 seconds and give users full control, including the ability to skip through the video and rate the title.
The new set-top player switches from a conventional Blu-ray player interface to a new visually rich interface that not only helps browse Netflix movies by their box covers but gives access to local music and photos. LG hasn't said whether the BD300 will support local networks or just attached USB devices.
The Ethernet connection on the player is also key to the BD300's role as an advanced Blu-ray player, LG adds. The device is a full Blu-ray Profile 2.0 player and supports BD Live Internet features such as community features, downloadable extra videos and multiplayer games. It also addresses HDMI-CEC for controlling the input of TVs and other peripherals attached to the player, and upscales regular DVDs up to 1080p.
LG says the BD300 will ship in the fall for an unmentioned price, though it will cost well above the $100 Roku Netflix Player. Both devices require an active Netflix subscription but don't charge an additional fee for the Internet feature.
The device promises to be one of the first Netflix media hubs also capable of playing other content, including HD video through other sources. Microsoft is also expected to introduce Xbox 360 Netflix support to its local media and HD video store support and combined with LG will put particularly strong pressure on devices such as the Apple TV and particularly the PlayStation 3. The latter has game and local media support but has only just launched the PlayStation Store video service to offer HD outside of its Blu-ray drive.